25 Responses to “Be A Compassionate Witness”


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  1. Brenda Leus

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. Words can’t express how I’m feeling after reading this. Thank you.

  2. Incredibly moving and inspiring story. Thank you for sharing this and making me think.

  3. Debbie

    When I was dropping my son off at high school a few years ago after a heavy snow fall, we came across a lady stuck in the ruts of the snow in the school parking lot literally spinning her tires. Behind her were about 6 vehicles waiting – looking impatiently for her to get moving. I told my son I was going to get out to help – sensing his absolute embarrassment if his mother dares to stop in the middle of the road to help – while explaining to him that this woman must feel very embarrassed and helpless, and look at these men who won’t even get out to help. I pulled over and went over to tell her I would push – and as I hoped some men then decided to come help as well. I certainly didn’t help much physically; but I hope I helped my son and all of those people who wouldn’t get out of their vehicles to help learn some compassion that day.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. This lesson keeps coming back to me over and over in many different ways this year. I want you to know that when I finished reading this I popped over to FB to send a message of help and my presence to a dear friend who recently lost her husband. My last line was “I am there.” Thank you for the practical help.

  5. Eva

    My sister has a form of epilepsy which gives her tonic-clonic seizures. There have been times when we’re in public and she will fall, jerking, and it’s understandably very upsetting for bystanders. I am trained to help her and we don’t often need assistance. When bystanders are pushy and loud, it makes me angry. But when bystanders are respectful and kind–and do exactly the things you’ve recommended here–I appreciate their presence greatly.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Eva. I can imagine how hard it must be to deal with that kind of insensitive behavior when you’re caring for your sister.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. The comfort you provided the young man, who may not have had anyone with him in his final minutes had you not been there. Very moving experience that helps us learn to take a different view on life.

    Thank you again

  7. Thank you for sharing this. I couldn’t help but get chocked up reading it. I can’t imagine how terrifying it would be dying like that alone. He may not have had his family with him, but at least he had someone there in his final moments who cared.

  8. Kim

    Tara, I would like to share your “how to” with a group of volunteers who often find themselves in situations where there is no easy answer to the pain that people are feeling. Would that be ok?

  9. Thank you for sharing. I’m really working on softening my heart and this was a great reminder.

  10. Jackie

    This is incredibly profound and moving. Thank you so much for speaking directly to my heart although we have never met

  11. Inspiring. Truly inspirational.

  12. Hi, Tara. Sometimes we forget to look at our own responses in times of crisis, and I was really glad to hear you say:

    Learn to sit with the feelings that come up in you. When you are with someone who’s hurting, what do you feel? Are you uncomfortable? Do you become frustrated when you cannot take away the person’s sadness, hurt or anger? Acknowledge these feelings and let them go.

    As a professional helper and healer, you can’t be reminded often enough to focus on your own feelings, acknowledge them, then let them go. Then they don’t get in the way of being truly present for the person who is in need.

    Blessings and thanks,

    a sanctuary for wounded healers

  13. Courtney Carver

    Tara, Thank you so much for this thoughtful, moving post. It makes me think of every interaction I have with people. While sometimes sad, the best part of life is being a witness to our loved ones experiences.

  14. “I felt guilty that it was me and not his loved ones who held him as he died.”
    I think it’s times like these that remind us that we are all one. Your care in that moment was felt and understood and I’m sure appreciated by everyone who loved him. Thank-you for caring, and sharing!

  15. Lisa

    Great reminder. It’s unfortunate that we as a society must be reminded to act compassionately. It should be our knee jerk reaction to be helpful and show compassion toward others. Even though it seems less and less evident I believe it is our nature to be compassionate. We just don’t act on it as we should.

  16. Louise

    Thank you for such an important post. I find that I often take on the negative emotions displayed by others, especially those close to me like my children. This happens unconsciously and I’m tired of being so affected by their moods and disposition. How can one learn to put some distance between what is being witnessed and what the observer experiences?

    • Louise,

      That’s such a great question. I think, as parents, it’s even harder to do this. You might begin by thinking about what you feel your role is in helping your children deal with their emotions. Sometimes we get caught up in trying to keep them from experiencing negative emotions because we know it’s uncomfortable for them and it’s uncomfortable for us as well. But if we begin to look at the range of emotions as normal and healthy and our focus becomes understanding and appreciating our own emotions and helping our children do this as well, they can lose some of their negative power over us.

  17. OMG what a powerful story!
    It was a strong introduction to some very relevant reminders… I especially resonated with “try not to fix it” as that is my nature. I want to make everything okay :)
    Thank you for sharing these words!

  18. Tara, I am so glad I have had the opportunity to know you and this story just supports the feeling I had about you. You are compassionate and kind and I know you made a difference in the group you helped here. Thank you for sharing.

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