Empathy Not Sympathy!

Here I am in the ever busy Accident & Emergency clinic for my night call with my coursemates led by a senior registrar,we’ve been asked to clerk this old man that had just had an accident,he is conscious and alert,well oriented in person,place and time but unable to raise his lower limbs.

Clerking went pretty well and I felt I needed to make Baba happy,to at least give him hope that he would be better soon and will walk again.

After clerking,Baba said he wanted Malta Guiness,I was ready to help Baba get Malta Guiness because I felt his very old wife sitting besides him was too old to do the running around seeing how stressed she looked already,but then,happy me thought the opportunity to make Baba more cheerful had come,I went to the senior registrar to tell of Baba’s thirst for Malta Guiness and I was replied with a sharp“EMPATHY NOT SYMPATHY”.

I felt like I was just severed with a knife and my mind went back to that interesting day during our Basic Therapeutic Skills course in medical social work class,we were taught the difference between being empathetic and sympathetic;empathy is the ability to understand and share the feeling of another while sympathy is a feeling of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune,I had mumbled those words to myself over and over as if I knew I would be guilty of them.I was sad,“How could my humanity get in line with my profession and professional ethics?” I asked myself and I promised never to default.

I almost defaulted when I was on paediatric surgery rotation.Each day I encountered sick children with the emotional part of mothers glaring,God! Mothers are priceless!
Everyday I saw mothers wearing the joy of motherhood on their faces,displaying courage and hope I couldn’t understand,even in the worst cases,laughter that they shared with their children were contagious,tears and prayers that touched my heart!

A mother will go to any extent to make her children happy regardless of the circumstance.There I learnt something about mothers,they just never let go!

Say a prayer for your mother,get her a gift or give her a call telling her you love her,that woman has done a lot for you!
If you’ve lost yours,say a prayer for your dad or the mother figure in your life! 🙂

The tears of those mothers almost made me cry but just at the nick of time I remembered “EMPATHY NOT SYMPATHY!”


5 thoughts on “Empathy Not Sympathy!

  1. Nice write up! Thought for a moment you kinda lost the train of thought but you came back in the end. Empathy, really difficult to draw the line where that ends and where sympathy begins.

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