Compassion Paralysis

It was momentary, but the feeling jolted through my body like lightning. I went to work and one of my co-workers was selling bracelets at her cubicle. One of her friends passed away and she was trying to get money together to go to Wisconsin for the funeral.

She is typically a bubbly and giggly woman. She had even come in early and decorated her cube for the holidays because she loves them so much. She consistently greets you as you walk by and smiles. She did all of that today…

… until about 3pm.

I thought I had heard her sneeze, but then realized that it hadn’t ended. She was sobbing uncontrollably and I could definitely tell it wasn’t manufactured. She continued for about thirty seconds before someone asked if she was okay and she quickly excused herself and ran to the bathroom.

Being one of the last people brought into the office, I didn’t know whether or not I should have approached her. Instead, I felt like I was encroaching on an incredibly private moment (even though I didn’t move).

A part of me feels incredibly guilty for letting my discomfort at the situation hinder my ability to offer compassion to another human being.

Have you ever had a moment where you felt this way?

Read 1 comment

  1. I can understand your reluctance to approach her, but I also understand why you feel guilty about it too. So many people are private and want to be left a lone during emotional times, so it’s hard to gauge when or if they are hoping for someone to reach out. I hate seeing people hurting and always wish there is something more I could do. Grief is an excruciatingly painful process. If you do want to reach out to her, you can leave her a note or a card letting her know you’ve been thinking about her and are willing to lend an ear or offer a shoulder to cry on should she need it.

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