My family recently suffered a devastating loss which has left us shaken and emotionally broken. Many of our friends and family have offered condolences and kind words. Flowers, cards, and fruit baskets filled our house. Phone calls and visits from friends, co-workers, neighbours and family were constant and very much appreciated. The flood of love that we received and support that was given has been heart warming and provided a much needed emotional cushion for the difficult days that I know are yet to come.
One thing that has been apparent is the empathy my friends and family showed. It was obvious that in the wake of devastation and loss, there was love and kindness. Although this doesn’t erase the loss and it doesn’t change the situation, it certainly does make me appreciate the amazing people I have in my life and know that in this world where empathy seems to be in a deficit, I have surrounded myself with people who are full of it.
In our house, it is important for my husband and I to show our emotions and explain to our daughter what we are feeling and why. Throughout these last few weeks, my daughter saw my emotions range from sadness to happiness, from hopelessness to lovingness and everything in between. She watched and she asked questions. She saw how the actions of others influenced my feelings and emotions. She saw how the kindness and compassion we received made our days a bit less unbearable. She saw, in real life, how empathy works.
We all have the ability to experience the feelings of others and take appropriate action. I felt it. And just as we do this in real life, we can do it online. Our kids are watching and learning and with a little direction, our empathy offline will transfer to their empathy online. As parents and care givers, the empathy we show others and that in which we receive in our day to day life, will inspire our kids to do the same, online and off.
“When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you” - Susan Sarandon