Sympathy is something most people can express but empathy works better for me. What’s the difference? Well, when someone sympathises with you or your situation they tend to show pity. They can commiserate and show an understanding for what you are going through but may say things such as “Oh no. I can imagine how awful that is for you but hey, at least you’re not dead!”, which doesn’t help at all.
When someone empathises however, they connect with you because they understand and can share your feelings, maybe because they too have experience of it or even if they don’t, they might be able to say something like “OMG. I don’t know what to say. I’m just so glad you told me.”
Looking back, the people around me who helped me the most emotionally, were those who had experience of a devastating, life changing situation.
Through the workshops I’ve attended over the last few months I’ve made some new and very dear friends. Connecting with people and sharing experiences is a wonderful way of getting through a difficult time and has allowed me to show support for others on the same or very similar journey.
You don’t have to have been through a cancer diagnosis to show empathy to a cancer patient, you just need to be able to make a connection to how they are feeling. This video clip sums it up perfectly.
On the other hand, here’s what not to say…