How does one empower a person who is experiencing tragedy in their lives? In what way can you help another to heal and find strength? How do you turn the consciousness of the world from a focus on tragedy, pain and suffering to one of healing, growth, and wholeness?

     In the face of pain and suffering, many people find themselves at a loss of what to say or how to react. A lot of the good old statements that have been passed down from generations idly slip through the lips in an attempt to reveal the profound. There are sentiments pointing the finger at fate, destiny, and greater forces in order to resolve oneself of the burden of having to just surrender to the situation and experience the emotions.
     A friend’s family experienced a severe tragedy this week with  a death in the family, a suicide of a brother that had long been suffering from depression. Although everyone was shocked at the situation, they were really prepared to hear the news due to the ongoing decline of the gentleman and a previous failed attempt.
     I had not ever met this person, yet he weighed heavily upon my mind the past few days. I wondered about him, his life and what the consciousness of this experience meant in mine. I thought about what he may have felt as a child, if he felt unimportant or ignored. I wondered if people had time for him and listened to what he needed to say. I wondered if he was allowed to express his emotions as a child and if someone were there to witness, support, explain and understand what he was experiencing. I questioned what in his life experience could have changed the outcome of his life.
     My next thoughts were how people must have reacted to this man while he was alive; his friends, his family, his co-workers. I am sure many of them viewed his situation and his life with sympathy. There surely was the thoughtful glance or moment of contemplation about the man from time to time. Sympathy is a way of extending outwardly to another person or so it would seem. However, it is actually taking on another’s experience and feeling sadness ‘for’ them or anger or any emotion but always ‘for’ them. It is seeing the other party as weak and wounded and having no way out. It is standing as witness for their helplessness and hopelessness. It is a distant cousin to the ‘pity party’ where the ‘sympathetic’ onlookers invite themselves.
     I found myself contemplating a different approach. Perhaps what this man needed was not sympathy but empathy. Empathy says ‘I can stand here for you, understand you are in pain, but see you as whole until you can see it for yourself’. Empathy is holding the space or holding the flame for another in their darkness. Empathy simply states, ‘I understand you are in pain. I may not understand the pain or how it feels but I recognize you are in pain. I recognize you.‘ Empathy allows people to have the right to experience their pain without shame or guilt or self debasement, live through it, hurt through it and, in many cases, actually come through it. Empathy allows an individual to have a strong outlying support system that appears reachable because those individuals are open and receptive.
     I feel that the world needs empathy now more than ever. Empathy belongs everywhere; from the pre-schooler to the elder in a care home, the child from privelege beginnings to the inner city kid in the projects, home front to foreign battlefield, from the person who has been shot to the one who pulled the trigger. A person’s greatest desire is to have love…to be acknowledged…to feel as if someone thinks they count. How often do you go out of your way to let the people in your lives know you value them? And how the world would change if people not only did that for family and friends, but also showed that level of humanity and respect to three total strangers a day? Sometimes not even a word needs to be said; just allowing a moment of silence and contemplation in honor of the existence of an individual, their life experience, and the true vision of wholeness that they are, would create change. On some level they feel it…and the world would shift. And, if people were courageous enough to actually verbalize the sentiments, it would have a two-fold effect because both individuals would connect on a soul level and cellularly would change something for generations to come.
     My thoughts shifted to why I experienced this situation within my realm of consciouness. I believe things that show up around us are a reflection of something that needs to be looked at and pondered within our own interior landscapes. It is a way to proactively approach one’s own growth and healing. Regardless of how many people experienced a situation, different perspectives would extract varied topics of healing unique to each individual. The angle at which something is viewed determines what personally needs to be seen.
     Immediately one thought came to mind, ‘What part of me left? What part of me has died? Which part of myself committed suicide and is no longer present?’  
     All people allow parts of themselves to wither away and die; the areas judged or that go unacknowledged. They are the parts of the personality that are presumed unloveable or unworthy of existence. Sometimes they are the parts that were authentic and unique; but the uniqueness might not have fit in with everyone so it was banished. In many instances, it is what is disliked about others, judged in regard to others, jealously felt about , or simply held as insecuriities.
     The first and foremost place empathy needs to be brought is… ‘Home’. It is time to acknowledge pain and feel self-love. This is the moment to recognize the wholeness. Sometimes the biggest illusion of all is the inability of human beings to see their own beauty and perfection.
Choose EMPATHY instead of sympathy and show the world how to…
BELIEVE…Beyond The Illusion!
Warmest Regards,
Simran Singh