Compassion is different from pity. Pity merely means that we feel sorry for someone and/or their situation. Compassion, on the other hand, goes deeper. It is with compassion that we enter into the suffering with others. For example, I feel compassion for those who died alone in the hospital, due to the coronavirus. I also feel compassion for their loved ones who could not be with them as they each took their last breaths. Now, when I say enter into the suffering with the ones who suffer, it means that I, too, feel their pain. So, rather than pity, we need to show compassion to those who suffer.
My heart breaks at the thought of dying alone in a hospital bed. No one can visit with the sick and dying. Anecdotally, I hear that priests cannot visit with the dying due to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). This equipment must be reserved for the hospital workers. So, the patients die without receiving Last Rights. Compound that pain, with the loved ones who could not be at the bedside of the dying. Now, the family must bury the dead, alone, due to social distancing requirements. Again, I enter into the suffering, of those who suffer, and I show compassion.
This coronavirus is insidious in so many ways, and will result in psychological impacts for years to come. The lack of closure with a loved one, at the end of life, is just one of the numerous negative impacts for which we must contend. Yet, if we can find it in our hearts to show compassion to others; to let them know they are not alone, then we will have done our part to make the suffering more bearable.
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