Are We Sympathetic? Yes Empathetic? Not so Much

via Daily Prompt: Sympathy

Such a relevant topic for a day like today. It is the anniversary of 9-11 and we are experiencing tumultuous weather issues in the USA.  Our television news channels are broadcasting coverage of these events as people unify to send aid, workers, and more into the areas of need.  Being sympathetic to the masses has been something we have all been able to do in the last few days and I assume it will continue for a while.

Sympathy, or the feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune is common during times such as these. We can see the emptiness in the eyes of those who have lost so much and we are pained in knowing that life can be so cruel.  We watch as heroes of the catastrophes rise up and become noted on the screen and in the papers. Those who walk into scary places without fear for their own lives and recue people are those who we want to be like and they give us that good feeling deep inside knowing that they are there and that humans can be so loving and so kind. We cheer on the little guy driving out of harms way with his family in tow. He who is attempting to keep the family safe from harms way are heroes in their own sense.

We jeer and ridicule those who stay behind thinking them to be foolish yet forget that they have their reasons. Perhaps they do not have the money, gas, or a good vehicle to get them to safety hours or days away. We forget about the disabled, those who cannot drive, those who are ill and who are possibly just out of surgery.  We scoff them even when all they want to do is survive the personal storm they are going through and tolerate the rest. Yet, I hear people say how those people who stay are stupid. Are they dumb or are they the true heroes of this whole thing? The heroes are also those staying at the bedside of a loved one who is in their last days. The heroes who those staying to help an elderly grandparent to be sure they are taken care of. The heroes are staying there to get the electricity back on and to put out the fires. They do not ask for your judgement, nor your condemnation for their choices. They would like your respect.

Sympathy is abounding, yes it is. But, empathy, well empathy is not so strong. The ability to understand what someone else is going through and let them do as they feel they need to without judgement is lacking.   To share how they feel and why they feel the way they do is quite often forgotten. People have reasons. Let’s take two scenarios and look at them for just a moment-

** Within a few days of when my father died there was a massive ice storm. Trees were down and the power was out across our area.  Most of the people could not get to town to the funeral. Safety was first for many.  I applaud that. Yet, some chose to still go as we did not want him be buried alone. In that case some may have thought we were dumb and judged us.  Sympathy was overflowing as many loved my father. But, empathy was not as apparent.  To put yourself in one’s shoes and allow them to choose without the ramifications of judgement and gossip are not a strong suit in the US. I am just as guilty.  I judged many that day and since.  I am trying to change. But we need to go on…


**** Another scenario – Weddings occur at all times. Why just this morning I watched the news as a couple told of how they modified their destination wedding and had it locally instead. They redid this all while driving back from Florida via phone calls and texts to various sites. The wedding seemed lovely. The bride appeared thrilled to have just had the ceremony and to be married to the man she loves. That newscast reminded me of our wedding nearly 40 years ago. It was to be held on Jan. 28th, 1978 – but a blizzard came through. (No, I am not making this up. My life could be a TV series LOL) We had one week during a blizzard to redo the entire wedding. Flowers could not get in etc.  We were lucky. Others did not have it so well.

My point is that somewhere someone is having a double issue every time a catastrophe happens. People die, babies are born, people get hurt, weddings and reunions have to be postponed. The elderly cannot get to their medicines, people need to be taken out of their homes on snowmobiles, boats, rafts, and more. I wish that they would show more people who tower over the storms of life and are victorious  on the news. Those brides that save their weddings, those people who rescue the newborn puppies, or stay with a young mother as she delivers her newborn child. Those moments are the ones that are able to strengthen and unite us as a nation. Those are when we can look and say “Wow” I cannot believe that they survived that!”

I have always been proud to be an American.  I am most proud when I witness the people blessed to live in the US help one another and come together to be unified as one. Times when we do not gossip nor finger point but get off our butts and help one another and do so with pure gusto. When we unify we are stronger than ever.

Be that strength that the bride who has to redo her wedding needs. Be the hope that a man burying his mother in a storm needs as he stands against the strong winds of change. You are designed to be able to do such things. Rise up America, it is time that we unify and become brothers. We need to stop dividing ourselves by bickering and picking on little things that do not matter that much in the big picture. Life matters, hope matters.  Sympathy is a good thing. We are good at that one. Now, let us tackle empathy. Understand one another. Love one another. Edify one another. Love all Americans, be the light and the salt. It is on us. We just need to believe and act upon it. We can do it!



Dear ones with a disability & their loved ones, (a letter)

Dear ones with a disability and their loved ones,

As one who had taught children with an IEP for years I owe you all an apology. I understood some of what you needed me to but other parts I HAD NO CLUE. I thought I did. But, now I know that I did not. Allow me to expound.

If I could go back in time prior to my accident I would have understood that you were trying. I always knew that you were, in manner of speaking, but I did not know how long and frustrating the paperwork trail was and the doctors search can take. I apologize for thinking that it must be easier than it seemed and for thinking that you were just making excuses.  So often I heard people state that you did not seem to care and that you were not even trying. Who was I to judge you? Who were we to judge you? You, the ones who were in the middle of the battle. The battle to get the best care for your loved one or for yourself. You must have gone to doctor after doctor to just find one willing to fill out the paperwork. You must have seen doctors that looked at your records and told you that they could do nothing and did not even examine you. I know because I have. I have had those who we are supposed to be able to trust, lie to my face and tell me that the paperwork will be filled out in a manner in which I agree to. Then find the paperwork in my mailbox a few days later with statements that we had not agreed to and no attached paperwork.  The one that came yesterday had never been sealed. Did the needed papers fall out? Who has my information? The list goes on and on.

Attorneys, the fees are exorbitant and what you get back in return is people who go to court with you and then quit the next day. (Mine did) Or how about the ones that tell you that they will get to your case when they can and that they are already  missing their child’s game trying to just keep up with the caseloads that they have taken on. That is not our fault. That is  not an adequate excuse when we are without an income for months, or years at a time to be able to afford the meds that we will be questioned about by those who sit on committees etc. I understand now why some of you had to cut meds in half or even choose to pay for only one med of the prescribed three. You needed to keep a roof over your heads and have food in the pantry. Free lunches and food handouts can only help so much.

I want to apologize to you for a system that seems to not care. One wherein you can ask them to dim the lights during a meeting for your loved ones eyes and then hear them complain that they are half brain dead from not being able to see.  This comment alone stays with you for quite some time as you hear it in the light of one who has a loved one with dead brain cells who cannot see as they used to and never will again. Or how about the person in the hearing who you divulge your deepest concerns to that at the end of the meeting when time is almost up that asks, “What does any of that have to do with why we are meeting today?” Then they announce that it is time to wrap things up. In your mind you know even before the papers come that you lost again. You feel crushed. No more funds to live on for months to come and the paperwork will start all over again. Back to the doctors, calls to the lawyers and more. All costing money that you do not have.

I am so sorry that I treated you as I did. I am so sorry that the local schools I offered to go into to speak now did not even call me back. I cannot speak for you in their meetings but I can BLOG. I can fight and call the representatives and tell them that enough is enough. It is so hard to live with a disability but the feeling of being one nobody cares about is the worst to me. Know that I care. Know that God cares. I am here for you if you need a disabled retired teacher to talk to. I now get it. I now understand things that I never knew. Dear ones, you are loved. I am sorry. Keep on fighting for your rights.  HUGZ


PS Thanks for letting me get that out. 🙂