GUEST COMMENTARY: Empathy changes lives | Guest Commentary

With this pandemic plaguing our world right now, I feel that for the first time many more of you will understand what it feels like to be a cancer survivor because we share that feeling of not being in control of our lives. But I worry that you too may feel loneliness because maybe everyone around you isn’t on the same page. Maybe COVID has created uncertainty about your health or caused you to lose your job. Maybe you have feelings of being an inadequate spouse or parent and worry about the future.

Please tattoo this on your brain: Those feelings of sadness and anxiety are normal.

Scary thoughts shared

The life that you knew of is gone and that is freaking scary. But again — you are not alone. Your neighbor gets it. The guy at Target stocking shelves gets it. This girl writing this column gets it. We just may not realize that others face similar thoughts.

In October, when you see those pink ribbons all over the place, instead of ignoring them because you don’t know anyone with breast cancer, consider them like little flags or calling cards identifying other people who have faced a tough time and are somehow finding the strength to push through to greet their new normal. But they too feel alone and often misunderstood. And they too feel scared.

On my bathroom mirror, I post inspirational reminders on sticky notes. I plan to add this one to my mirror from author Brene Brown: “Empathy has 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.’”

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