Vail Daily column: Have compassion and empathy for aging community members – Colorado News

Vail Daily column: Have compassion and empathy for aging community members – Colorado News

Compassion is a strange thing. By definition, compassion invokes sympathy, pity and perhaps even sadness for other’s misfortunes or sufferings. Compassion often drives people with a sense of desire to assist and alleviate duress from others. Many would believe that compassion is a good thing, even admirable.

Many dictionaries use the word sympathy when providing a definition for compassion. However, herein lays a dilemma. With what amount of conviction does sympathy alone motivate people to help others? Sympathy is an emotion often held for someone else. While it is powerful in its driving force and ability to motivate people to help others, in my opinion, it falls short of empathy.

Empathy, on the other hand conveys more of the ability to understand and share another’s feelings — it precedes compassion. Empathy is more of a personal understanding and/or personal “relating” to another’s situation or emotions gained from personal experience — idiomatically, having walked the walk.

Ask elders what they desire

“Novelist C.S. Lewis once expressed, ‘I’m afraid as we grow older, life consists more and more in either giving up things or waiting for them to be taken from us.’”

Our fast-paced, high-energy, youth-oriented culture doesn’t leave much room for the aging.


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