Empathy or sympathy - while they are similar, they are not really the same. Empathy is more like actually trying to put yourself in someone's shoes. Sympathy is like acknowledging someone's feelings - but not really trying to know what they are feeling. At least that is how I interpret the definitions.
I empathize with a lot of people. I try to put myself into their situation to experience what they are experiencing. Of course, I could never really know exactly what it is like, but that is why I have so much compassion for other people.
I see someone walking down the street with a back pack when it is very cold outside, and I want to know their story. I want to pick them up, feed them a hot meal, and talk to them. I don't do it of course. And I always feel sad that I didn't. The reasons for not doing it vary, but I still feel they are all "excuses" and I don't like them.
It saddens me that there is such a fear in helping people. I see people sitting at the end of the highway with signs. I give them money. I've heard the arguments that you shouldn't, and that just doesn't sit well with me. I don't care what they spend that money on, that is their decision to make. I did the right thing. No one will ever convince me otherwise. You never know how close we are all to being in their shoes.
This is also a big reason that when I read the newspaper I walk away with tears in my eyes over people I had never heard of until that day.
I don't really know if it is a good trait or a bad trait, I have been told by a lot of people that I am "too nice."
A boy who goes to Allie's school decided at the age of 17 that he didn't want to continue with his life last night. When Allie told me, all I could think about was what could have possibly been going through this boys mind that he would want to do such a thing? And then the thoughts of his parents, and what living hell they are going through. It makes me wish I could have done something - which is irrational of course, I had never met the boy, and it's not like I can possibly meet every person on earth and convince them that life is worth it.
I laid down to go to sleep last night and I couldn't do it. My chest ached for this boy and his family. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I got up to go talk to Jeff. He was on the couch watching a movie and I sat down in front of him. I laid my head on his shoulder and talked to him about it. Why people, especially kids, think that nothing is ever going to be better. Life is all about trial and error, there will always be good times and bad times.
I wondered if there were any missed signs. I wondered if it is possible for me to miss signs. For something this horrific to happen in my family.
I know high school is hard. There are kids picking on each other, making fun of each other, trying to knock people down a notch. And yes, I know that the kids who do that are the ones who are really insecure themselves. They need to make people feel bad to make themselves feel better... whatever. Teenagers can be SO. MEAN. (So can adults I know, so it is not just an age thing!) And every time I hear any of my kids, or any of their friends say anything bad about other kids in their school, I tell them to stop. I've lectured so much over it that it now only takes a look from me. Then they are jumping all over themselves to defend their snarky remarks. But I think they are getting better about it.
So, today, my heart is heavy and my thoughts are with this boys family. I just want to pull my kids close and hope they know how much I love them.