The difference between empathy and pity
There is a big difference between empathy and feeling sorry for someone. It's not the first time that I write this. Yet it remains a pressing issue. Because often I get emails from grieving young people, with sentences beaming frustration. They struggle with the fact that many people view them as 'pitiful'. Young people without parents are not pitiful.
Yes, they have suffered an enormous loss, and they live with it every single day.
Yes, they have lost the external source of unconditional love.
Yes, it is not easy for them to deal with daily challenges.
But pitiful? No.
Feeling pity for someone reduces inner trength. Both for yourself and for the child. That is not only unfortunate, it is also unnecessary. And harmful. Because every child that grows up without parents needs inner strength. Empowerment. To face daily challenges. To choose life. To build a bright future. Without any limits imposed by others.
You don't help a grieving child by perceiving him or her with a glance of pity (nor by exhibiting behavior that stereotypes a pitiful orphan).
A grieving child doesn't have time for this. And rightly so.
However, when you feel empathy for one's situation, this offers lots of space for development for both the person who feels it as for the child. Space for building inner strength. For finding inspiration. For becoming brave. For being more gentle towards oneself. For seeing constructive guidance and opportunities that allow a bright future. For discovering and developing talents. For having loads of fun. To truly take part in life.
For that, a child without parents does have the time. And rightly so.