Empathy – real empathy – is a mysterious phenomenon. The poet Walt Whitman wrote, "I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.”
It’s reasonable to ask whether we have the capacity to truly tune into other people’s experiences, particularly when they’re traumatic. Perhaps we get closest to real empathy when we’re able to draw on our own compelling experiences that somehow approximate those of the people we care about most. It may not be a perfect fit, but it may be as close as we can get. And that’s what we hear from B. J. Rich.
B.J. Rich is a nurse clinician and educator living and working in Rhode Island.