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Feeling Someone Else’s Pain

Sympathy is defined as “an affinity, association or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other.”

In this hospital setting, we develop friendships with co-workers. We also develop relationships with the people we serve—our customers, the patients and their families.

There was a time when medical professionals were urged to avoid any emotional susceptibility to those they served. Such a goal was not only impossible, but also not very helpful. In reality, when a caring, sensitive person—a description of the caregivers at Simi Valley Hospital—interacts with someone who is hurting, he or she will no doubt feel their pain to some degree and will demonstrate appropriate sympathy.

When I observe parents with a sick or dying child, my own heart is overwhelmed. I feel their pain to some degree, especially when elements of their story are reflected in my own life. I must still interact with them as I do my job, but I pray that as I do, there is a genuine expression of sympathy and compassion. Though I can’t remove their pain, I can be with them as they move through it.

Medicine—at its very best—responds with personal presence in the company of those who suffer. —Family Practice Physician David Loxterkamp

by Chaplain Ron Hyrchuk

June 22, 2006