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Sympathy and Empathy are not the same

I talked a little bit about sympathy and empathy back at Christmas, but I want to dive further into that today. For many years I didn’t know the difference, do you? Often words in the English language sound so similar we assume the have the same meaning. However, sympathy and empathy have some very distinct characteristics.


As a grieving parent, I get a lot of sympathy from others. In any given conversation where I mention I have a daughter in heaven, I will inevitably hear, “Oh, I’m so sorry! I can not imagine!”


My mind can go many ways with that statement. First, I think we can all imagine how awful loss truly is but what I believe the speaker is conveying is that they do not understand the depth of pain that child loss brings. My next thought is honestly, “I’m so glad they don’t know!”


You see, I never want anyone to know the pain of loss. The great empty blackness that can swallow a parent in grief. Or the elephant that sits on your chest keeping you from drawing in breath. The anxiety that makes you fearful for your other family members, wondering how will we survive this? No, I would never wish that on anyone else.


Sympathy is a gracious and caring response to devastating loss, so how is empathy different?


Empathy is a feeling deep in the body of someone who doesn’t need to imagine what that loss it like. Empathy has lived through it and knows in their gut the devastation. Empathy also relives their own loss every time they hear of someone else’s loss. This week we had some mutual friends but more just acquaintances that had some devastating things happen in their life. This devastation is walking them into child loss and heart break. David and I are not close to them, yet our immediate response was flooding tears and an aching broken heart.


We cried because we knew the pain firsthand that was coming to rest in their lives. We feel it profoundly because it takes us right back to the day we handed Millie back to heaven. A day I can’t even begin to describe and one you can’t imagine unless you have walked it. Then your own empathy comes out and you know…deep in your being, you know and can weep with us and for us.


And so, we are praying for their family. We are weeping for their pain. We are remembering the life they loved so dearly and will miss so profoundly. A life that, praise God will be continued in heaven as a believer, yet those left behind will have to wait to see again someday. We are filled with empathy.



I pray that your hearts only know sympathy today. I pray that you never have to walk empathy, but if you do, I pray you know Jesus. I pray that he is your hope and sustainer. I pray that you can lean on him like we do as we miss our precious Millie. I pray that the families who have children in Heaven can remember that heavenly healing is not what we wanted but it is healing. Just as “Millie Finds Her Miracle” may each grieving family have eyes to see their child’s miracle despite the pain.



~Telling Christ’s story {Because of Millie}

…….︵‿︵‿୨☆୧‿︵‿︵……. ☆。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆ 。・:*:・゚★ I still believe in Millie’s Miracle ☆。・:*:・゚ Hebrews 11:1 。・:*:・゚☆ ………..︵‿︵‿୨☆୧‿︵‿︵………



“Millie Finds Her Miracle” is now available to preorder on Amazon


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