The Heart of the Matter

Daniel - Plymouth, Massachusetts
Entered on December 8, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in the value of compassion. I give compassion when I sympathize with another person who has suffered from loss or misfortune. I want to extend myself and offer comfort, which I hope will alleviate some of their suffering. I place myself in the shoes of another person. I try to understand what they feel. I experience some of their pain. I communicate my feelings concerning their adversity. I believe in validating people’s thoughts and feelings. I confirm that their feelings, at times, have been my feelings. I believe this compassion and validation helps people with their pain. This is the heart of the matter.

When I was in my junior year of high school, a friend broke the news that one of her classmates had died in a fatal car accident. She told me how everyone cared for her classmate. She described the girl’s personality and told me various stories that depicted her character. I started to feel as if I knew this girl, as if she had been my classmate. I began to understand the sense of sadness and loss that my friend was experiencing. I shared my feelings of compassion with my friend.

My own knowledge with death involved the loss of my only grandparent with whom I had a great relationship. My visits to her house were filled with tenderness and care along with ginger ale and ice cream. Our family also experienced the loss of a close friend when I was a sophomore in high school. This woman welcomed us into Plymouth and into our new home. She helped our family make neighborhood friends; we felt comfortable in our new surroundings.

In both situations I felt compassion and the approval of my feelings from my parents. My mother explained to me that I would always have my memories and the person I lost would always be with me in my heart. She confirmed that it was reasonable to be sad and my feelings were normal; other people have had the same feelings. My parents set the example of giving love and acceptance to people who are hurting.

As I conveyed my story and how I began to understand the value of compassion and validating each other’s feelings, my friend realized I had been through similar experiences. Even though the people who died were not the same age and we did not have the same relationship, my friend and I had comparable feelings of grief. We both had suffered a great loss. We both had experienced pain as a result. My friend knew I understood her sorrow. She felt the effect of my compassion and my support of her emotions.

I believe the people of the world become connected as they realize other people have been through similar circumstances and have experienced some of the same emotions. This helps to validate their feelings. It creates a web, which helps people understand each other. It is the heart of the matter. This I believe.