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1000 Posts for Compassion

January 20, 2015

Updated: haha I posted a month early! I guess I’ll be back doing this again on Feb. 20, the real date. I don’t mind. More kindness and compassion is better than less.

Today I’m joining with 999 other bloggers to fill the internet with posts about compassion and kindness, so now I guess I have to say something profound.

Compassion comes from a the root words meaning “to suffer with.” Suffering. The last thing we ever want to do. The thing we try to avoid at all costs. If we want to be compassionate, though, we suffer with.

Suffer with. Be with. Sit with. Share in the moments where certainty is not given. Breathe. Pray. Hold. Hold on.

Everything in modern America tells us not to do this. Run away! Take a drink. A pill. A vacation. Get away. Make an inspirational quote photo. Do anything to get the hell away from that pain.

I dated a guy who had a stroke when he was about the age I am now. Not a devastating one, but serious enough to require a cardiac pacemaker due to heart damage brought on by years of untreated high blood pressure. He had no health insurance, so he had to go to our county hospital, a creaky old place with no air conditioning.

There was a more modern hospital across the road, but there was no way he could afford it. I was afraid the care he got at County would be sub-par, but what was there to do? To top it off, he was terrified. He had never suspected, until he had the stroke, that he was in any way unwell. He was in shock.

A nurse who looked to be about 45 came in to the hospital on her day off. She had heard about his situation. She told him that she, too, had a cardiac pacemaker. She told him she had felt scared and devastated by her heart problems, certain she would never be the same. She pulled back her shirt collar and let him run his fingers over her pacemaker, right there under her skin. She explained that the pacemaker allowed her to continue her life much as it had been before.

The nurse gave him exactly the care he needed at that moment – the experience only someone else with a pacemaker could share. She had the compassion to come in when she didn’t have to because she knew there was a human in need. He was instantly better, calmer, ready. She had given him something the most modern hospital couldn’t offer – a light on the path, shone by a human soul.


  1. January 20, 2015 13:37

    I had some emotional things happen for me last week and there were some hours where I knew that the emotions would fade but I didn’t want to live through the hours until they did. I thought so often about the ways in which we’ve formed a society that doesn’t help you live through emotions but helps you to dispense with them. It’s weird. And difficult. I think a lot about a friend who used to say, “May me big enough to hold this.” about difficult things. Thanks for writing this.

  2. jellyjules permalink
    January 31, 2015 18:51

    A lovely post about a compassionate deed. Thank you. I remember when my mom was in the hospital, having open heart surgery. I was in Alaska, and there was no grocery store within walking distance, and I had no car. I asked a nurse if there were a place to buy hairspray, because though no one else cared how I looked, I needed hairspray. She stopped at the store on her way to work the next day, and brought me hairspray (which I paid for) and several snacky treats and a magazine (which she did not let me pay for). She said when her mom was in the hospital, she was alone (as I was), and she wanted to do whatever she could to make the day a little less horrid for me. I’m afraid I don’t remember her name, but I will always remember her kindness, and the comforting hug she gave me after the surgery.

    • March 30, 2015 21:37

      What a lovely thing. Nurses are the best.

  3. TheAnimatedWoman permalink
    February 16, 2015 18:22

    Hi Suebob. I was missing you and remembering our drive with Neil last summer. It is often in my thoughts. Anyways, I came looking and found this great story about compassion, which was really what that drive was about, for me. Anyways, I just wanted to say hi!

    • March 30, 2015 21:37

      Hi! A little late, but Hi Back! It was a great drive, and I think of it often. I took an aimless drive through some beautiful countryside and sleepy little old towns, and I wished you and Neil were there with me to stop and take photos.

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