A couple of months ago I was asked by CRY to consider training to be one of their bereavement support counsellors. It was a tough decision to make. I wasn’t sure I was ready for the whirlwind of emotions it would invariably invoke. But then I thought, would I ever consider myself ready? So that’s why I’ve spent this past weekend in the function room of a hotel in Epsom, crying and laughing with a bunch of fabulous people who’ve had similar experiences.

It’s been tough going. I’ve felt physically and emotionally exhausted since getting back this afternoon (someone nicking an hour of sleep didn’t help – give it back!). The course is about developing our skills to help others, but we’re learning a lot about ourselves on the journey. It’s a two year course so I expect there’ll be lots of weekends of going back to the hotel room on my own, wondering what on earth I’m doing there. But hopefully, as a group, we can support each other to make something positive out of something so negative.

“This guy’s walkin’ down a street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, “Hey you! Can you help me out?” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole, and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, “Father, I’m down in this hole; can you help me out?” The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. “Hey, Joe, it’s me. Can ya help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are ya stupid? Now we’re both down here.” The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out”. The infinitely wise Leo McGarry

“How does that make you feel…?”x


2 thoughts on “HDTMYF?

  1. Samaritans training often involves an exercise very similar to that example to illustrate the difference between sympathy and empathy. Somebody is trapped in a hole; a sympathetic passer-by stands at the top, looking down at them, and saying how awful it is that the person down the hole is feeling so bad, and how sorry they are for them. The empathetic passer-by climbs down the hole and stands alongside them, looking up at the sky from as close a position to their hole-mate as they can (while, of course, never *quite* seeing things the same way, no matter how hard they try). In the video (yeah, they made an animated short for this), he says, “It’s really dark and cold in this hole. Is that what it feels like for you, too?” It’s an awesome exercise.

    Anyway; I just wanted to say that I’m proud of you for what you’re doing. =o)

    • I really like that way of looking at the difference between empathy and sympathy. I’ve been looking back at the fab post you wrote about Active Listening a while ago, it’s really useful.

      Lovely to see you the other week!x

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