A Companion That Walks Beside Us …

Empathy is connection … Empathy is connecting with the emotion that someone is experiencing, not the event or the circumstance. …

… Empathy is a strange and powerful thing. There is no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’

— Brené Brown from Daring Greatly

 

There’s no way to be spared sorrow. I wouldn’t even wish that upon someone. But we shouldn’t get stuck in our grief; it’s not a permanent address but a companion that walks beside us. Everything I love, I will lose. That’s the harsh truth. You either have to shut down your heart — and miss the love that is around you — or wrestle with that truth and come out the other end. There is indeed such a thing as joyful sorrow.

The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give. If I carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine and won’t develop much compassion for other people’s suffering. Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible.

And we must have compassion for ourselves, too … we’re so driven to make ourselves “better” all the time, as if the better we became, the more people would like us. We are mercilessly hard on ourselves for our losses, our defeats, our wounds, our failures, the parts of us that don’t measure up.

— Francis Weller (author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief) from The Geography Of Sorrow (interview)

 

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