Empathy

On Talking About the Hard Things of Life @racheltoalson

“We are taught to believe that strength and perseverance and hope do not include brokenness. But that’s simply not true. Our brokenness, our sadness—they are the precursors to becoming strong and mighty. We step into our cracks and we kneel down and we pour our attention on them, and that is what becomes the superglue that puts us back together.

We do this alone and we do it together.

When we turn away and hide our sadness or our mess or the hard places in our lives, apologizing that we can’t get it together, what we’re doing is denying others the opportunity to step into our cracks with us. To come alongside us and say, Hey, you’re not alone. To take our broken pieces and and glue them back into place.

The opposite of turning away is turning toward. I know that sounds obvious. But what exactly is turning toward in a situation like this one?

It’s acknowledging our sadness, however deep it goes. It’s talking about our sorrow, however founded or unfounded it may be. It’s sharing our pain, our sickness, our burdens with one another and healing together—whether that together is with friends, family or people you just met who share your own pain or sickness or the kind of burdens you carry.

Maybe some won’t always take our brokenness the right way. Maybe sometimes they’ll call us names or shame us or make us feel like we’ve done the exact thing we should never have done. But the only way to survive the hard places is to open them to the light. The only way back to strength is to acknowledge how this thing has weakened us. The only way out is through the cracks.”

Surviving #Cancer Without the Positive Thinking. Losing Yourself, Seeing the Beauty and the Love @embeedub

"My husband and I were always transparent with the kids. They saw me cry; they saw me get scared. We used words like died rather than passed away. Now I see the kids as these amazing, compassionate, clear-eyed people who know how to comfort others and who have made space in their life for death. That is so unusual in our culture. I want my kids to have a relationship with the fluidity of life—with the fact that sometimes people get sick and sometimes bad things happen, and to know that within that there is also grace, there’s also beauty, there’s also comfort. Because if you go down into the depths, there is treasure there. Cancer still sucks, but there’s also profound connection. It’s the privilege of allowing yourself to participate in the full experience of humanity, which includes grief and sickness and death. If you don’t look at [those things], you’re not living...

There’s this assumption that because you got better, you did it courageously. But that’s not my story. I didn’t “warrior” my way into getting better. It was not my achievement; it was science’s. Whenever I hear someone say “I beat cancer,” it just feels so disrespectful to others, such as my friend Debbie. It divides us into winners and losers. I know it’s not deliberate. We want to make meaning. We want to make sense of it. But you see how random [survival] is. I have known people who were healthier than me and younger than me who tried, I think, harder than I did to fight their cancer but who didn’t live…

The story is about losing something—yourself, people you loved, what you thought you knew about the world—yet still being whole. Butterflies are all about transformation. I try to see the beauty in all the damage. I try to see the beauty in all the ruin. And I definitely see the love."

Rappelling Together, Downward and Inward #Compassion @ParkerJPalmer @onbeing

“When I came home and went back to work, I looked around and said to myself, ‘If only we could see the 'inward rappel' so many of us are making right now — the daunting challenges so many folks wake up to each morning — we’d have more compassion and offer each other more support. If our inner struggles were more visible, more compassion would flow.’

I know there are situations where it's dangerous to be transparent about your fears — though I also know there are ways to create safe space to get the support we all need. But whatever our situation, all of us can exercise an empathetic imagination about the ‘inward rappels’ others are making, just as the poet Miller Williams urges us to do:

Compassion

Have compassion for everyone you meet

even if they don't want it. What seems like conceit,

bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign

of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.

You do not know what wars are going on

down there where the spirit meets the bone.”

.The Gift of Presence, the Perils of Advice @PARKERJPALMER

“Here’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.

Aye, there’s the rub. Many of us ‘helper’ types are as much or more concerned with being seen as good helpers as we are with serving the soul-deep needs of the person who needs help. Witnessing and companioning take time and patience, which we often lack — especially when we’re in the presence of suffering so painful we can barely stand to be there, as if we were in danger of catching a contagious disease. We want to apply our ‘fix,’ then cut and run, figuring we’ve done the best we can to ‘save’ the other person.”

@BreneBrown on #Empathy. "What makes something better is connection"

"What is the best way to ease someone's pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities". 

Letting #Patients Tell Their #Stories. @DhruvKhullar

“As we acquire new and more technical skills, we begin to devalue what we had before we started: understanding, empathy, imagination. We see patients dressed in hospital gowns and non-skid socks — not jeans and baseball caps — and train our eyes to see asymmetries, rashes and blood vessels, while un-training them to see insecurities, joys and frustrations. As big data, consensus statements and treatment algorithms pervade medicine, small gestures of kindness and spontaneity — the caregiving equivalents of holding open doors and pulling out chairs — fall by the wayside.

But all care is ultimately delivered at the level of an individual. And while we might learn more about a particular patient’s preferences or tolerance for risk while explaining the pros and cons of a specific procedure or test, a more robust, more holistic understanding requires a deeper appreciation of ‘Who is this person I’m speaking with?’

In Britain, a small but growing body of research has found that allowing patients to tell their life stories has benefits for both patients and caregivers. Research — focused mostly on older patients and other residents of long-term care facilities — suggests that providing a biographical account of one’s past can help patients gain insight into their current needs and priorities, and allow doctors to develop closer relationships with patients by more clearly seeing ‘the person behind the patient’.”

Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me

"It is the reason a neighbor knocked on our door to tell my husband that everything happens for a reason.

'I’d love to hear it,' my husband said.

'Pardon?' she said, startled.

'I’d love to hear the reason my wife is dying,' he said, in that sweet and sour way he has.

My neighbor wasn’t trying to sell him a spiritual guarantee. But there was a reason she wanted to fill that silence around why some people die young and others grow old and fussy about their lawns. She wanted some kind of order behind this chaos. Because the opposite of #blessed is leaving a husband and a toddler behind, and people can’t quite let themselves say it: 'Wow. That’s awful.' There has to be a reason, because without one we are left as helpless and possibly as unlucky as everyone else".

They Brought Cookies: For A New Widow, Empathy Eases Death's Pain

"So I'll tell you the positive effect and you know it already: empathy is pain's best antidote. It is, says Robert Burton in his astonishing Anatomy of Melancholy, 'as fire in Winter, shade in Summer, as sleep on the grass to them that are weary, meat and drink to him that is hungry or athirst.'

The pain doesn't go away; but somehow or other, empathy gives the pain meaning, and pain-with-meaning is bearable. I don't actually know how to say what the effect of empathy is, I can only say what it's like. Like magic".

The Gift of Bad News. #Dying #Coping #Healthcare

"We’ve all been told we should live each day as if it were our last, but how many of us truly can? Life is a journey. We’re in the middle of it. When we hear the news, we know — for the first time really know — our journey will end. What do we want from our doctors at that moment? What do they want from us? No matter where we sit, we are infinitely far apart and impossibly close. They have given us something no one else on earth has ever given us before, and we are transformed."

The Difference Between Empathy and Compassion Is Everything.

"Empathy is a gateway to compassion. It’s understanding how someone feels, and trying to imagine how that might feel for you — it’s a mode of relating. Compassion takes it further. It’s feeling what that person is feeling, holding it, accepting it, and taking some kind of action".