Sympathy vs. Empathy

A friend shared this video today.  I could not help watching it over and over again. It made me laugh and cry at the same time. It reminded me of the first day leaving the hospital after losing my child.

It was June 29th, 2013, a sunny summer day. My heart was deeply scarred. It hurt like thousands of knives dropping from the sky, cutting me like raw meat. I was in a wheelchair, holding a keepsake box, with Kevin’s last memory. As we turned corner, a nurse came by, she leaned over, giving me a big hug, said, “You take care.” I could almost see the tears in her eyes.   As she walked away, one wound out of a thousand stopped bleeding.

Walking into the same house that I prepared for months welcoming a newborn was hellish. Joo, my husband, did his best cleaning up the house the day before, dissembling the cradle, putting away onesies, and hiding the new parents’ books.   But, my mind kept going back to the happy moments, the projected image I had engraved in my brain for the last six months I was carrying my child. Now, all I left was a 16 inches of scar from the C-section, hurting like crazy, with no baby to show for. How did I make sense of this? I was a lonely and hideous monster.

Friends and neighbors kept coming. They came with food and concerned faces. They asked us what had happened. Like a recorder, I spoke to each one of them about the moments I could remember. The first time or two, I choked on every word and barely could be heard. After 5 more time, words just fell out of my mouth, without me thinking too hard. It almost felt those words lifted heaviness from my shoulders. It stitched up a part of my broken heart. As the neighbors leaving, Joo kindly asked, “Please come talk to Jasmine, more often.  She will feel better that way.”

As I shared, some friends opened up about their personal stories: things I never knew about them. They talked about their miscarriages, infertilities, and less-than-perfect child. As I listen, I no longer felt I was a lonely monster (still hideous). I was not the only one had tragedy happened to. Lots of women had similar pain and coped with it.

I was thankful for their kindness. They understood me. At that moment, maybe nothing the other person say would make things less hurt. Being there, listening and sharing their worst moment, was the best medicine I had. It took a lot of courage to show empathy towards the other person. I was grateful!

Give someone pity, sympathize someone is easy.   Anyone can do it. Show empathy and offer a crying shoulder is not. I am glad that I have those friends, the courageous ones.

You know who you are!

Thank you from my bottomless heart!


About jasmine shei

My blog is to express my journey in finding a purpose in life, after a great loss. As I wonder in the woods, I hope I will eventually find a path to a lifelong fulfillment.
This entry was posted in Infant Loss, Recovery, Relationships and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sympathy vs. Empathy

  1. I’m glad you have a support system around you!


  2. Georgia B. says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. During my pregnancy last year, my friend shared that same video with me. LIke you, I laughed and cried. It was helpful and painful at the same time to realize who was in my life that was truly empathetic and who was not. I’ve just come across your blog now because I followed a search link that led someone to my blog… a search on WordPress for the tag “infant loss”. I’ve been discovering all the many blogs out there that are about infant loss. Again, I am so sorry for your loss. You mention the date that you lost your baby. I was saddened, as I saw that it is one day after the day I found out something was gravely wrong with my baby girl who was in my belly just 13 weeks along. It was the worst day of my life, and as I see the day approaching on the calendar… the one year mark… I grow more and more sad and dread the day more each moment. It’s painful to relive the day in memory, and something about the day coming again just makes it so hard. So I know that you must be feeling similarly with your baby’s 1st birthday coming. May you get through that day with grace and peace and feelings of love for your baby. I’m sure it will be hard. But I hope it will be healing, too.


    • jasmineshei says:

      Thank you for sharing your story! I am thinking about the anniversary all the time but have not formulated a plan yet. But, I will keep it simple and do something healing. Think, hard, before it is here. 😦


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