True empathy is not loud.
It is not listening to someone else’s story, fidgeting and rushing to tell the other how such a situation affected you, too.
True empathy is still.
Is not anxious about tears, or the absence of tears.
It just sits.
It offers the most precious of gifts: Time and Self.
Time for another to simply talk, without the need for your answers, for they rarely come.
Time to say “I haven’t got a clue how deeply you feel this, but I am not going anywhere. I will stay until you are done talking”.
The gift of Yourself to not judge, compare or try to make sense of it all; that will come much, much later down the road.
The gift of being VERY careful as to what pithy phrases, trite platitudes, or even precious scriptures you quote, which right now cannot be absorbed.
So please – at this time of year which can be heartbreaking for so many, both in the present and in the re-surfacing of crippling anniversaries, be VERY careful about asking someone “How are you?”
…unless of course, you are prepared to give Time, and Yourself, and stay awhile….