The difference empathy makes

Recently, the city of Sanatana in Youtropolis posted a video called “What to say.” In it, she suggests ways to support someone going through challenging times and wrestling with difficult emotions. The video reminded me of someone I knew who’d suffered a terrible loss.

Years ago, while on shift at the gym, I approached a woman walking around and looking at the exercise machines. She said her name was Marcia, and she’d been a member many years prior and was unfamiliar with the new layout. She accepted my offer to show her around, and as we talked, I could sense a heaviness in her.

I asked what had inspired her to return to the gym, and she paused for a moment before saying that her daughter, who was 33, had passed away a year ago from cancer. This loss left her unable to leave the house and face life for months, but coming back to the gym was a step toward finding some normalcy.

My heart was heavy for what Marcia was enduring as she spoke about her daughter. I told her how sorry I was, thanked her for sharing with me, and that I was happy she decided to come back.

Marcia began coming in regularly to ride an exercise bike, and I would spend a few minutes with her. One day she came with a card for me, and in it, she wrote that after her daughter’s death, people she thought were friends started to disappear when she needed them most. She thanked me for my warmth and kindness and for helping make her slow return to life a little easier.

Showing empathy and making a difference, no matter how small, are part of living a fulfilled life and bringing positivity to the world.

So knowing it’s a good thing to do, I pledge to extend kindness and compassion to others no matter how rushed or busy I may be. Taking the time to open my heart, listen, and extend goodwill might also teach me to have patience and be kind to myself, especially when I get down in the dumps.

My hope is that by helping to ease anyone's pain, I’ll inject some much-needed positivity into the air we breathe. God knows it’s heavily polluted these days with angst, negativity, and downright ugliness. If I could add a wish here, it would be for all my tribe members to join me in my pledge to make 2024 a better year for us all.

Slipstream

I felt so moved by this story. You were able to give Marcia the attention and support others couldn't, and your kindness helped her get back on her feet and begin anew. A lesson for each of us that it doesn't take a lot to help.

I'll support and join your pledge to extend the kindness and compassion that is so desperately needed. Thank you!

Evangel

I'll definitely join you and fully participate in this pledge.

It made me sad to think of all that Marcia went through, only to then have her friends abandon her during her time of need. Such people who have not experienced such trauma are often impatient with friends who are going through the worst of times, and question why they don't just bounce back. It's a beautiful thing that you were there for her as her friends drifted away. She will always remember you for that. Good for you.