Thursday, November 21, 2013


The other day we were at the checkout line at Walmart when we heard a small child crying. I didn't think anything of it, because I figured it was a fussy kid with her parent, until I realized it was a small girl clutching the hand of her older brother, who was also very young. She was wailing at the top of her lungs, and her whole body shook with sobs. Her brother had tear streaks down his cheeks and he was using his shirt to wipe his nose. They made their way to the cashier across from us and waited patiently to get her attention. The older brother hugged his sister and buried her head in his stomach so she wouldn't cry as hard, although I could tell that with each hysterical sob she made, he too was sinking further into despair. "We've lost our mom," he said, when the cashier finally noticed them. She quickly summoned a worker to come over and help them, and I presume they eventually located the mother.

What struck me about this situation was the anguish displayed by both children at the loss of their mother. They probably had been distracted by candy, toys, or christmas decorations as they followed their mother around the store, only to realize that they had lost track of her. While we as adults might cajole a child and tell them not to cry, to them, it's almost as if their mom has died. They feel like she's lost forever. I'm sure the mother was also worried about her children and looking for them as they looked for her. She might have had some comfort knowing she had taught her children to go straight to an employee for help (as it seemed they had come all the way to the front of the store for that very purpose). 

The lesson I took away from this experience is empathy. Even something that may be small or easily fixable to us, may seem like a great tragedy to others. It is important to let them know that they have been heard and that they are understood.

When have you felt lost?

1 comment:

  1. I've been trying to show understanding and empathy to the residents where Grandma lives. I just finished a great book where I learned about how to communicate with and validate them.


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