The Power of Empathy

Posted on February 7th, 2010 by Dr. Nancy

Sad but true we will all lose someone we love.  We may lose a beloved pet or a Grandparent we dearly love. None of us will miss this major life changing event unless of course we ourselves head out sooner than expected.  My father recently crossed over.  I like to say that because that is my belief that our life is a training mission. I cannot imagine any of us can get it right the first time. Oh well, I will not bore you with my beliefs or crazy thinking. It just makes me feel better to think someone I love leaves and finds a much better place. Just like in the “Tale of Two Cities” when the aristocrats are facing their death and he says to his beloved: “it is a far better place we go to.” Doesn’t that just make it better knowing there is a party up there waiting for us when we go “home”?
OK, I am off subject again. I was telling you about my father’s passing.  He was almost 91 years old and he had been at the mercy of the terrible disease, Alzheimer’s.  He stayed at home and mother took care of him.  He really beat all the typical symptoms of this disease and he remained sweet, considerate and helpful up to the time he took his leave. He smiled and even though he did not know who you were he was always ready with a smile and a greeting.  His passing took a brief 6 days once he began his last journey and during that time my family told stories, bonded and held each other and we all said our goodbyes and well wishes to my father.  We knew the time would come but when he took his last breath we held ours thinking we would hear one more.  When it did not come we cried and held each other and began to put together a celebration of a life full of purpose and meaning which we knew many did not know about.  It gave us all a chance to tell the world how special he was and how much he had done while on this earth. It made us all feel humble when we examined a life well lived full of love, faith and dedication to the God he served well. We gained much in this life lesson.  What we also learned is how much people care and want to support you when you lose a loved one.
I am still getting cards almost three weeks later and I am humbled by the kindness and words of support I receive almost daily.  It has made my mother and my family stronger and better with this out pouring of love and empathy.  It is with the support of others that we can withstand anything, no matter how hard it may be.  I want to thank so many people for this support and I can only say that we humans have an amazing characteristic to give to others during really difficult times. It makes living worthwhile when I see what we do for one another. I am blessed and I think we all share a common invisible bond that is there when we need it.
Today is the first day of the rest of my life and I think it is a good time to reach out and call  someone you have not talked to in a while.  It is a great time to  lend your love and support to others and I promise you will feel wonderful and so will the person you reach out to.  If you are having a hard time for whatever reason, reach out and I promise there will be a helping hand to hold and to lift you up. We are in this together and so we might as well enjoy this ride we call “life”.

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