Let’s talk about compassion and empathy…
Compassion and Empathy
Her name was Marla Lane. We were seven years old. We were in the second grade but not in the same class. It was the first year hot lunches were served in my school in Kankakee by the Sea. I noticed Marla Lane in the cafeteria. She did not get in line for lunch and did not bring a lunch from home. She sat all alone. I remember feeling sad because I could feel how she felt and I wanted to share my lunch with her. I wanted to help her.
After school, I walked the eleven blocks home with two girlfriends. As soon as I arrived home I told my mom the story about Marla Lane and asked my mom if we could buy her lunch.
I can still see my mom’s face melt as she hugged me to her. She told me I had the gift of caring for others when I saw someone in need. My mom gave me the money each week to pay for my lunch and Marlas throughout the second grade. When I returned for third grade I looked for her. She was gone.
Wondering how at seven years of age I could feel empathy and compassion I did some reading. At age two, we begin to feel empathy, the ability to feel the emotions of others. Compassion is another emotion. We have the desire to help. You can feel compassion without acting on it. These traits are 30% biological and 70% behavioral.
What Life Now Can Teach About Compassion and Empathy
I think this Pandemic and living in Elsewhere can teach our children and grandchildren about compassion and deepen their sense of caring and sharing with others. It is a good time to share with them life stories of people who took positive action to help others.
I think the Pandemic and life in Elsewhere is a perfect time to teach our children and grandchild to watch their words. You can teach them how to exercise diplomacy and kindness by letting them watch and listen to the news on television. They will not like what they hear and see. It is a lesson on poor behavior and not one to be missed.
This is also a good time to teach them not to cry over spilled milk. Teach them the importance of moving forward by telling them the story about the scientists and doctors who are trying to find a vaccine and prophylactic drugs to help fight the virus. Explain how they take one step backward followed by two steps forward. They never stop trying. Their work ethic is a great example. Moving forward is central to a life that works.
A Few Suggestions For You Darling
During COVID-19 you can reach out to others and offer your listening ear, drop off a single flower or little plant at a friend or neighbor’s doorstep with a note. Or, deliver a loaf of homemade bread to a neighbor living alone or make an early morning call to a friend. There is no better gift that you can give then the gift of caring.
And, what can you do for ‘you’ while living in Elsewhere? You can acknowledge all of your blessings. Take the time to do a reality check. It is human nature to lament a litany of woe’s but not profitable for happiness. So, take time to simply be grateful.
We are limited to what we can do in Elsewhere but we can still have lovely life experiences. Indulge yourself in live music, living books (not ebooks), and nature. And, if you can, grow a garden. Yesterday a friend of mine showed me photos of the greenhouse her father is building in his back yard. You can still make things happen in Elsewhere. It is not productive to watch things happen.
We can all muster our strength to grow through these hard times in Elsewhere and in general. Everyone goes through reversals in their lives. And, many women have multiple struggles. This is a time to ask for support and take personal action. Sometimes we have to accept what is thrown at us because it is the flow of life. And remember, have compassion and empathy for yourself.
Ask Honey – On Compassion and Empathy
July 30, 2020
I am 68-years-old and have been a teacher for over 30 years. I was planning to continue working until COVID-19 hit us. Now I am very concerned about returning to in-person teaching, which looks like the way it’s going right now. I could take a leave of absence or retire. but both leave me wondering what to do with myself. I am divorced and have two grown children who don’t live nearby.
My friends are all younger and not ready to retire anytime soon. Wondering what you would do in my situation. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! By the way, I enjoy your blogs very much, we seem to be on the same page!
I agree with you that it is unwise at age 68 to go into the classroom. Personally, I think you should consider taking a leave of absence rather than retiring because teaching seems to be the center of your professional and social life.
My thought is to become a virtual tutor and definitely continue your relationships with your younger friends. They may be your best resource for tutoring children because they probably have a few children who need help.
Make plans to meet your friends for dinner. It is also time to consider joining a group. A book club, a movie group, or travel groups. Have meetups with your friends as well. I would ask them if they have students that need tutoring. They seem to be your best resource.
Sorry. My English is not so well. But, I have a husband that has dementia. I love him but I feel at the end of my rope. How I take care of him when all I want is to run away sometimes?
I do not really want to run, but it is hard when I am so tired. How do I keep my spirit up?
I know how you are feeling because my father had dementia. You are sad, frustrated, exhausted, resentful, angry, and need help. You probably have no time to care for your own wellbeing. Your feelings are normal so don’t be angry with yourself.
I know that you will only upset yourself further if you argue or try and reason with your husband… so don’t. Think about his feelings and rub his back, help him eat, play music, and smile at him. I think he will understand and you will not be so frustrated.
Darling, I really need more information to help you. I don’t know where you live and I don’t know if you have family members or friends who can help you care for your husband. As well, I don’t know if you can afford a caregiver a few hours a day or one day a week or more often. I don’t know your age so I don’t know if you have medicare or Medicaid.
I do know that `Medicaid covers long term nursing care in-home and in a nursing care facility? Their phone number is, 800-677-1116 and their website is, www.alz.org. Please call them for help. Don’t be afraid to make the call.
If you need my help, email me at email@example.com and I will help you.
I came across your blog, and as a younger person, I found it an amazing resource for those with the privilege of having grandparents.
My grandma and grandpa are getting older, and I have a hard time relating to them now that they can’t do or talk much. How do you stay connected to those who are aging?
Thank you so much for your help!
What a special granddaughter you are; so loving, compassionate, and empathetic. I understand how you are feeling too because I was a granddaughter and experienced what you are now experiencing; coming up against obstacles of how to interact.
My grandparents loved to listen to me tell them stories about my social activities, my boyfriends, and my dreams of one day traveling the world. I would share my life with them and always tell them how much I loved them. They would listen and were so happy to hear about my life.
I would take walks with my grandparents and I would tell both of them how much I loved them and I would thank them for teaching me valuable lessons and how grateful I was for their love.
I would share cut up apples, letting my grandma cut up hers while I cut up mine, and when they did talk to me I would be a good listener.
As well, I watched movies with them and introduced them to my friends. We would go out for lunch and dinner with others and even in their silence, I knew they were so happy to feel involved and observe my life through their eyes.
Just be yourself. Don’t over try. I recall seeing a movie of a grandson and his grandfather. At the very end the grandson was holding his grandfather’s hand, no words spoken but I felt their love projecting through the screen.
Thank you for writing to me, Sarah. I am touched. I am Jewish and in my religion, a newborn baby is given a Hebrew name, My Hebrew name is, Sarah.
Sarah, I would love you to sign up on www.honeygood.com.
What are your thoughts and feelings on compassion and empathy? Let me know in the comments at the bottom of this page.
We are all GRANDWOMEN with Moxie, and we need to stick together. If you have a question for next week, please ask it in the form below.