Compassion, empathy, and sympathy: These are all things we wish the world had more of. Understanding is also something we seem to ask for, but I humbly submit that of all the things on the list, this is the most difficult to give and to get.
To truly understand something, you pretty much have to experience it. It’s like a foreign language — if you have not been immersed in it, you will have a difficult time understanding it. As I battled this disease, I initially thought people just don’t understand, and that would bother me. I see a lot of warriors sharing how their friends and family don’t understand what we go through. To that, I say, THANK GOODNESS! I wouldn’t wish what we experience on my worst enemy.
Compassion for things you don’t get is a much easier request. You don’t have to experience it to feel for the person who is in the midst of the storm. The same could be said for the other things on the list. Knowing someone who battles lupus is not the same as battling lupus. But having compassion for the person who is battling is so much simpler than understanding what they are experiencing. I have come to realize that when someone tells you they understand, but they aren’t going through it, it actually bugs me. (Think about people who are being comforted after the death of a loved one, and someone who has never experienced such a loss says, I understand what you are going through.) No, actually you don’t. I know you mean well, but to say you get it, in essence, is what it means when you say you understand.
I think for us, as warriors, to expect people to understand is a bit much. We all have our crosses to bear and the idea that someone else can hop underneath yours and carry it for a while is not very practical. I have decided that how I personally will be best served is through compassion. It allows people to sympathize with your situation without having to be in it. People are also a lot more caring as they work to make things a little easier on you without the burden of your cross. I know that I have made this about semantics, but I just wanted to offer a viewpoint that really brought to light the word understanding. I think we mean we just want you to stop thinking that what we are fighting is easy. It’s not, and a little compassion truly does go a long way.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.