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I’ve been consciously working on showing more compassion to the people around me; I know that we could all use some more of it.

But I flaked the other day.

I was standing right in front of a woman who was sharing something very personal, and who had clearly been very hurt.

But I didn’t know how to respond.

I smiled at her, and kept her eye contact while I listened to her tell her story. Gratefully, we were in a group — so it wasn’t just between the two of us.  And someone else stepped in with the words I had been looking for…

Do you ever grapple a bit like this — not knowing what words to say, how to respond, how to let someone know you’re sorry they’re suffering, that you’re really listening to them?

I can do it so easily when I write. But when I’m face to face with someone, it’s different — much more difficult. The hurt is so much more tangible when you see it standing in front of you.

So I liked this little list of ways you can show more compassion, in person.

Here’s one:

“I’ve seen how simple things make such a difference for family caregivers who never get a break: a neighbor going to the grocery store for them or a local teenager shoveling the snow. One hospice volunteer was a beautician, and she would do hair, makeup, and nails for the patients and their families. Folks appreciated it so much. They would say, “I don’t have time to go out of the house to do this.” I remember one time I had just picked up some clothes at the dry cleaner when it started pouring rain. Everything was going to get soaked on my way back to the car, so I stood there, hoping the storm would pass. A stranger came up to me, opened her umbrella, and said, “Can I help you get to your car?” It was a small thing, but I thought, I now have to pay that forward.”

You can read more here.

photo credit: porschelinn