Do you have a minute? Sorry for the Inconvenience.

Tough Love Lessons
from an Empathy Deficit Society

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Walking a Mile Series – Part I

“There, but for the grace of God, go I”

Not my problem, not my business?

Our society seems to be rapidly moving to a state where it is empathy-averse. The next few posts are my attempt at trying to change that sad reality in some small fashion by telling my personal story. It is time

Many who are still able to care what happens to others take the “wait and see” approach, hoping perhaps that some of the problems will resolve without their involvement.

I have noticed it most overtly in response to current political actions of late, but I have always seen it most pervasively in the continuing lack of Mental Health Awareness.

That attitude troubles me greatly.  We need each other, and the quote at the top of this page has never been more apt.

I always planned to speak out about it, once I put my life back together after a horrendous event that all but took it away from me entirely. But there was so much to do in the aftermath that time got away from me.

The attitude I observe, that seems to be increasing since the start of the most recent election cycle, has emboldened me.  I think it’s time to put some polish on a few drafts and publish them.

The Value of Personal Stories

Sometimes hearing the stories of people you know, even a little, makes a greater impact than any urging to step up, speak out and make a difference ever could.

So I will be sharing two personal experiences, one a great many years ago and the other only a few. I plan to divide the article into three parts, mindful of the time many of us lack for reading extremely long posts, even though these will be longer than many.  They will post on consecutive Wednesdays.

I am posting them NOW to underscore the reason we all need to increase our willingness to get involved before the next DSM is forced to add a new category: EDD – Empathy Deficiency Disorder.

Sympathy vs. Empathy

Sympathy is “feeling sorry for” a person in a particular situation. It is a feeling that allows us to be grateful that we are not the ones going through the experience personally. But it also fosters a pull to allow ourselves to sit back and do nothing to ease the burden for another.

Empathy is “putting ourselves in the shoes of another,” allowing us to imagine what we would find helpful and encouraging, and perhaps to step up to extend support – if only a little bit, and maybe more than that.

Talk and Timing

As I said in one of my updates to an article years ago now, NO contact possible: mugged at gunpoint, modern medicine is very different than the first time I had a broken bone but, unfortunately, bones don’t heal correspondingly rapidly.

My first experience was the result of multiple, serious, spiral fractures to my right leg, many years ago.  The damage was the result of a skiing accident that left me unable to get out of bed for a month, in a hip cast for about 8 months, and a leg that was smaller than the diameter of my arm once the cast was finally removed.

The negative impact to my acting career was substantial, but my attitude remained essentially positive – despite a great many challenges – thanks to more than a little help from a small handful of my friends.

This is my story

New York City, where I was living when I broke my leg, was in the middle of a transit strike, and New York cabbies were reluctant to take the time to deal with someone on crutches or in a wheelchair.

  • At that time I lived with a godsend of a roommate who stood at the curb to hail a cab while I was hidden from view, so that I could get where I needed to go.
  • She also emptied my bedpans for that first bed-ridden month. She kept me company, the bills paid and our services on, and food in my belly.
  • At no time – for an entire year – did she display impatience or treat me differently. Nor did she suggest that I pretend that lack of autonomy was less of a struggle for me than it was. She helped me keep my spirits up with conversation and laughter.
  • At NO time did she expect that I pretend my situation could be handled by “thinking positively” about it.  She understood without having to be reminded, that “motivational” talk of that type would have felt belittling.
  • She sat with me patiently during the times I wept over the seeming relentlessness of the situation.

Thank you Janine.  I was extremely grateful at the time but, until the contrast of my more recent experience, I had NO idea how very much your help and your attitude made it possible for me to make it through that time emotionally – and whole.

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Additional Thanks to Robin

A dear friend, no longer with us, managed to borrow the wheelchair I could not afford to purchase —  before even I realized that I would be needing one.

He didn’t ask me if I wanted him to do so, he simply showed up with it.

Looking through the lens of helping vs. offering to help, he understood how difficult asking for help could be. He empathized with the reality that I was all too aware that the time it took to help me with ANYTHING I could not do myself was an inconvenience in the life of a friend – and that I was reluctant to ask.

However, had I requested that he find a way to handle the mobility problem, he would NEVER have made me feel like my request was too much to add to his very busy life.

And thanks to Andy

Several of the men I was dating at the time “dumped” me because they could not handle the situation.  It didn’t fit their image, I suppose, to be seen with “a broken woman” once the crutches I painted black to match my wardrobe became my constant companion — even though the situation was clearly temporary, albeit one that would turn out to last longer than a year before I was completely healed and walking again.

  • I am grateful to one brave soul who told me why we would no longer be dating – the one who was with me during the accident, who got me back to my apartment from the upstate hospital in which I spent about a week following the accident.

The others simply did not call again.

  • I felt shot at and missed.  Thank God I did not attempt to make a life with any of those men.  Except for this accident, I might never have known who they really were – or their definitions of “relationship” — until I was much older, when it might have been too late. Still, it was a heartbreaking disappointment at the time.

Lessons in Gratitude and Empathy

I will always be grateful that I did, in fact, heal perfectly. It was touch and go for a time. It has increased my empathy tenfold for those who must live forever with lives that were suddenly altered — and especially for those who have never experienced a life where they didn’t have to work around often considerable challenges.

And several of my dear and wonderful friends taught me those lessons
through their kind – and much needed – actions on my behalf.

Andy, that one exceptionally kind – and extremely strong – man I was dating at the time stepped up. While we eventually decided that we were not life-mates for other reasons, we have remained very good friends, despite the fact that we have not laid eyes on each other in several decades.  These days we support each other on the telephone.

At that time, Andy was the supporter and I was the supported.

He got me out of my apartment “prison,” taking me to the Planetarium, to movies, to places he could buy me a glass of wine where my gimpy leg could remain hidden under the table-cloth.

It reminding me that *I* was not broken, even though people spoke differently to me when they could see the cast or watch me approach on crutches.

He carried me down five flights of stairs and into my wheelchair during the many times that the slumlord-managed building elevator failed to work,  so that I could get to my monthly Xrays and cast changes. He actually adjusted his work schedule to make sure I did not MISS those appointments.

At NO time did he say, “Tell me if you need anything.”  He simply looked at what I was going through and stepped up to help — no decisions on my part beyond what I needed to put on my body to be able to go out.

He carried me back UP those five flights of stairs as well, and went back down to bring up my wheelchair. He pushed me around Central Park on his days off.

For almost a year of HIS very busy life, he made me feel whole.  And I appreciate it now in a way I never could have until my experience of being mugged at gunpoint.

INSIDE my apartment, he lifted me into – and out of – a very deep claw-foot tub I could never have navigated otherwise, after helping me wrap my right leg to the hip with a garbage bag so that my cast remained totally dry, my leg hanging off the edge of the tub.

I remained clean throughout the experience, thanks to Andy’s willingness and ability to do for me another of the many things I could not do for myself, even with the help of a very willing roommate.

Even though it could have been awkwardly humiliating, thanks to Andy’s attitude those are actually funny memories – and once I am able to manage it, I may well post some of the pictures we took during that time.

Andy has told me several times over the intervening years that he considered the help he extended to me a good time to get to know me better. He joked about his physical strength giving him “an edge.”

It did – but not nearly as much as the clear demonstrations of his humanity.

Empathy is a trait I have always valued highly and a kindness I have always extended myself — but never so much as after my experience of having it extended to me.

Kindness will always breed kindness.

My subsequent experience was totally different.

In a moment, my life changed forever

I was gang-mugged at gunpoint on December 28th, 2013, if I recall correctly, returning home after grabbing a bite to eat at Skyline Chili, after midnight in a neighborhood reputed to be one of the safest in Cincinnati.

Part II of this article will share some of the details of that experience, so I hope you will come back next Wednesday for the next part of the article (available now at the subtle link immediately above.)

© 2017, all rights reserved
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Shared on the Senior Salon

MANY thanks to Sally G. Cronin for featuring Part I of this article among the others on her Smorgasbord Blogger Daily roundup for the week of March 22nd, 2017.  Hop over to learn about a few other posts from bloggers you might enjoy reading – and, whatever your interest, if you aren’t already following Sally you are missing a lot!

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

121 Responses to Do you have a minute? Sorry for the Inconvenience.

  1. reocochran says:

    Nicely expressed with lots of humility displayed and gratitude given out, Madelyn.
    Our live’s journeys sometimes have horrible and sad “bumps” in the road.

    “Fortunately, no one died.” Honestly, my parents often would say this phrase. If we had an accident, lost a house in foreclosure or in my case, divorces and loss of income.
    This was such a lovely description of the friends who helped you so very much for an entire year. Take it easy!

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Maria @ says:

    Yes we are completely empathy deficient!

    “Sometimes hearing the stories of people you know, even a little, makes a greater impact than any urging to step up, speak out and make a difference ever could.” Christianese calls this “Sharing your testimony”, and it’s something that’s laid up in my heart as well- to give voice to our struggles and show the world we are real people with real hurts! I think the phrase “mental health” has an abstract, apathetic feel to it because it’s easy to say, “I don’t have mental health problems so this must have nothing to do with me.” How about we let people walk a mile in our shoes?

    Now on to part II

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Sorry for the Inconvenience Part II | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  9. Bernadette says:

    As your post so clearly illustrates sympathy is sitting on the sidelines and empathy is getting in the game.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You are obviously blessed to have had those people in your life just when you needed them. It is nice to hear that there are people out there who do things for others, just because they want to xxx


  11. What a fantastic post and so true. Have experienced bucket loads of sympathy myself over the last 7 months since my diagnosis and treatment but also…thank goodness a handful of empathy from a few people. A few people who made such a difference 😊


    • I’m sorry to hear that, Jo – but I really appreciate your ringing in to underscore how much difference empathy makes to a person who is struggling, and how little expressions of sympathy actually accomplish in its absence – *especially* when there is nothing they can do to change the situation appreciably.

      In the next segment, much darker in tone, I hope to serve as a model of what can happen in empathy’s absence, before returning in Part 3 to show very much difference even relatively easy to give kindnesses can make to recovery.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Lana_SHON says:

    Very good blog post!


  13. Madelyn! Here is a title asking for a minute but without causing any inconvenience it has taken my several minutes. Reading and having my lunch in between I was amazed to read this post and know what sympathy and empathy are like. Quoting the episode of your life you have well defined both the words.

    Real meanings always come through own experiences, apart from undergoing the pain and pleasure of life we meet some beautiful souls on our way, who shall remain in our hearts, who shall make know life worth living. So also we happen to meet some who have also helped to know life in its worst form. Thanks to them too.

    The people that have come in your life are to be thanked in all respects. Particularly the ones who have been with you in the worst of times.
    Here is a brave Woman I meet once again in my path.

    Madelyn to tell you the fact many a times I have visited your blog but have gone without putting my presence as I had read your posts half or was pulled and dragged to take over to something else.

    I shall be back again, for I have lots to read here and some of them are pending.
    Yes! You are interested to know so I am interested too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shiva, you are such a dear Spirit and have left a comment that warms my heart. Thank you so much for your time and interest.

      I know my articles are longer than many you will run into around the blogging networks. You have no idea how very much time I spend formatting for readers who struggle with long strings of text and attempting to shorten them! I leave only what I believe is necessary to meet my objectives for the post in a way that *most* of my readers will be able to read and understand, even those who are new with little prior information. I try my best to be entertaining as well as informative. It all takes words.

      The title, however, was meant not to reflect reading time but to mimic how so many people who are struggling and desperately need help feel they must approach others — ONCE they get up the courage to ask at all.

      As you said in your comment, “So also we happen to meet some who have also helped to know life in its worst form. Thanks to them too.” Part II of this article will take a look at that side in my story as I describe my next experience, before I return in Part III to thank the angels who made it possible for me to continue to do what I do her, and to describe just a bit of even seemingly small blessings that were HUGE at the time.

      I am eager to hear your response once all three parts have posted. Thanks again for reading and commenting.


      Liked by 2 people

      • Madelyn I could understand what you really meant. I shall definitely read the Part III, please inform when you publish.
        Please do inform some links you would want me to read of your posts. So that I shall go directly.
        Actually I am interested to read all your posts for that matter.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sorry for the delay in response, Shiva – I found you in the spam-trash for some bizarre reason. I appreciate your interest in my posts — thank you. Both posts will publish one second after midnight Eastern (NY time) very early on Wednedays: Part II on March 29th and Part III on April 5th. I don’t have links I can give you because they haven’t published yet.

          As for other posts you might enjoy,
          I’m not sure what to say. If you click the link below:
          The Master LinkList, note text is greyish vs. black.
          That is simply a list of other LinkLists by topic — click those and you will be able to jump straight to anything that peaks your interest.

          One post, in particular that you might enjoy is The Link between Leadership and Spirituality – although I wrote it for coaches, I quote some thoughts of Sadhguru which I feel will be in alignment with what you write. You might also like Reframing Change for World Leaders

          At the bottom of every post, by the way, I always include links to Related Content. Click any that look interesting. Unless WordPress glitches change settings (it happens 😦 ) my links are set to open in a new window or tab (depending on your browser setting) rather than on top of the post itself – so you can close anything that doesn’t appeal and go back to where you were because that tab will still be open.


  14. dgkaye says:

    I’m not surprised at your strength that comes through in all your writing, with just a sprinkling here of what’ you’ve been through. You know what they say, ‘what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger’. I happen to be an empath, so I know full well what you speak of. Coincidentally, we have more in common – I used to do some acting, and I was mugged too. Hey soul sista! ❤ Love your empowerment!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Heart-rending and heart-warming at the same time, and much needed to be shared personal story – and you are to be commended for coming out with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the endorsement, Dolly.

      Beyond my bios, I share little about my own life on, but this felt like the right time to share the stories in this 3-part post.

      This part was relatively easy to share – Part II was tough to write and I’m concerned about how well it will be received. I think anyone who makes it to Part III will find they feel similar to how they felt about Part I, but I am hoping to show both sides of the coin in this article – in a manner that doesn’t ask for anything personally but the time to take the journey with me with an open heart.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think you’ve succeeded admirably!

        I am bursting out with excitement, and you are the person who would understand this. During this one week I first ran into one of my former students (I mean the school) who’d had ADD coming out of her ears exacerbated by a traumatic divorce, mom’s remarriage, blending two sets of kids together – Brady bunch situation. No hyperactivity, just ADD. Today she is a successful web and social media manager for her husband’s business and has two adorable little ones.

        The next encounter was with a parent whose kid we used to literally scrape off the ceiling. We used to joke that he could be a trapeze artist! Married with one daughter (cute as a button!), rolling in dough thanks to an online business. The most important thing – happily married and respected in the community.

        Finally, last night I did a workshop for teenagers who volunteer with the Friendship Circle, working with special needs children. As I walked in, a tall, slender, gorgeous-looking girl literally wrapped herself around my neck,”Dr Aizenman, do you remember me?” It was impossible not to! This girl was non-verbal, in addition to ADHD and a whole slew of physical /health issues. She is graduating from high school, has already been admitted to college, majoring in art and design, and dedicates all her free time to kids with special needs – this is her was of paying back her adoptive parents and us, the school.

        I am walking on clouds!
        mgh added white space for readability for those who struggle with longer strings of text; words unchanged

        Liked by 1 person

        • Dolly, this is SO inspiring. WHAT a gratifying week!!! Thanks so much for sharing with me.

          With your permission and assistance, I’d like to turn this into an article (adding a bit of info about your school and how you worked). I’d include a description of what you do NOW and links to your site, of course, and don’t mean to steal your thunder, but I know your blog doesn’t focus here and mine does. We need to spread the good news to more people!
          (DARN – I replied to your comment FIRST today, but I neglected to hit “approve and reply” — sorry you’ve been languishing)

          Liked by 1 person

          • I haven’t been “languishing,” I’ve been cooking!
            Dear Madelyn, the problem is that these kids are recognizable, and I need to protect their privacy and the privacy of their families. You may certainly use my examples in an article, but no links to my site, nor my name should be mentioned. If you want to know how we achieved these results, I’ll be happy to share models, methods, strategies, etc., in a general way, otherwise, again, it will be recognizable. There are many more sensitive issues here than you would even imagine!
            I hope you understand and forgive me!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Of COURSE I understand the confidentiality issues – I must always be extremely careful there as well.

              I still want to do an article, but let’s wait for a month or two for that reason – to protect your identity and, by extention, theirs.

              I believe that most readers will be happier with “a general way” than having to read specifics, in any case. I will also send you a private link to a draft so you can make SURE that anything “iffy” is changed before I publish for anyone else to read. (a super feature in WordPress, btw, allows us to “request feedback” before anyone else can see the post).

              OH how I wish we lived close enough for me to pop into your kitchen, watch, learn and chat at length.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Thank you for understanding. There are some issues beyond confidentiality, such as prospective marriages for siblings, employability, community standing, etc. For instance, I know a perfectly wonderful and perfectly normal (if there is such a thing!) young lady who cannot find her match because all her siblings are on the spectrum. She is the oldest and a lucky exception. No young man wanted to even meet her once they heard which family she was from, and now she is already not so young any more.

              The name of my school was a stigma. I’ve heard this rationale more times than I care to remember: if people find out that my son goes to your school, my daughters will never get married, my other sons will never get jobs, the entire family will be shunned by the community, etc.So many kids slipped through my fingers because of this!
              I very much appreciate your sensitivity!

              Liked by 1 person

            • Oh Dolly, it breaks my heart as much or maybe more than I know it must have broken yours to hear reactions of this type that so many people need to put up with and attempt to work around.

              Stigma sucks!

              I swear I’d love to lobotomize more than a few small-minded people. If they aren’t using their brain anyway, I doubt they’d even notice. (The people who created the problem, not those who reported it to you, btw).

              Liked by 1 person

            • Yes, I sometimes felt like grabbing them by the beard and flashing them down the toilet. But unfortunately, close-knit communities are made of people like that, mostly.

              Liked by 1 person

            • grrrrrr! And can imagine that going outside the community is possibly even more problematic in cases like some of your students and parents.

              I swear, most days I think I’d rather deal with unwashed junk food junkies as I say repeatedly, “ya’ want fries with that?” than continuing to attempt to open closed minds for another 25-30 years with results similar to those that the the first spate garnered.

              Liked by 1 person

  16. mistermuse says:

    I wish I could add something insightful to previous comments, but they have already well said it all. However, I will apologize in advance (though it does no good now) of reading about what happened to you in 2013 in my home town of Cincinnati. I imagine many of us like to think our own city or town is safer than most, but even if that were true, it is of no consolation to those who do become crime victims.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was truly a horrible experience – in supposedly one of Cincy’s safest nabes, one of the reasons I chose to move here.

      The police informed me that we were only one among several hit in a similar fashion during the crime spree of this particular band of thugs that night, however. They made SURE that none of us could identify them, so they were never apprehended. Evil people can be found everywhere, unfortunately, even in the smallest communities, yet none of us ever expect to be crime victims ourselves, even in cities where crime rates are high, but especially in places with relatively low crime statistics.

      Thanks for reading – and for your expression of empathy.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. John Fioravanti says:

    Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie invites us to consider the place of empathy in our lives by allowing us to relive with her a traumatic experience in her past. It is moving and uplifting – and the first of three parts. Let us consider her truth – together.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. paulandruss says:

    Well Madelyn, I don’t know what to saw i read the post alternately cheered and disgusted by the human race but in the end what I took away was that what yes, there are crap heads everywhere but there are still good people in the world, who care about others and want to help their friends and can think beyond themselves and their own selfish needs. A wonderful heart warming post. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much – you have underscored my intention when I set out to set down my contrasting experiences. 🙂

      Hardly any of us make it through life alone. As my friend Andy said, stepping up to help others is one of the best ways to get to know them better.

      Part II is not particularly uplifting, included for contrast in the hope that anyone who has been ‘meaning to’ give a struggling friend a call will empathize with just how much that single action can mean and DO it!

      Part III is more like this segment – underscoring the point that every single one of us can change the life of someone in need – even for virtual strangers.

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to ring in.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paulandruss says:

        Ps I apologise for my chronic typos I have a trigger happy send finger and press before I read properly. I will be looking out for Parts 2 and 3 with anticipation. Luv P

        Liked by 1 person

        • Not to worry – same here, along with a sticky keyboard that makes for many typos that my touch-typing fingers create without my conscious awareness. I try to edit before sending, but I usually see *at least* one more as I watch the post disappear from my control. Happens to all of us, I think.

          I’m looking forward to reading your reaction to Part II – typos notwithstanding 🙂


  19. -Eugenia says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. It must be difficult to rehash your own horrific life events and I commend you for having the courage to do so. It’s those hard times in life when one finds out who their true friends are. You must be blessed because you are here to share your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. They say if you can count on your true frien

    Sadly we only find out who our true friends are during the tough times. You were very blessed to have such support. What a real gem of a friend as I am sure you are too. I have a few friends I can count on now including my dear sisters. In that I am very thankful. X

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it wonderful to *know* that you have people who care enough to help? I’m sure they feel blessed by your presence in their lives as well.

      Every single one of us can make a difference in the world, even with something as simple as taking a few moments out of our own busy lives to have a brief conversation with a stranger on the street, like many of the ‘random acts of kindness’ posts suggest.

      My friends in this part of the story were unusually generous in their support, but every little action on behalf of someone else makes a difference. I think many of us do nothing at all when we feel we can do little – with is such a shame for our world.


  21. Mary Smith says:

    Excellent post and I look forward to reading the next two. Friends who can empathise rather than sympathise are truly special and worth hanging on to. Reading this post triggered a memory of how incredibly let down I felt by a ‘friend’ with whom I’d talked the day after someone I was really close to took her own life. I probably saw more of this woman than I did of my husband and her loss was devastating. The next day my ‘friend’ asked if I was feeling better – it was as if she’d done the sympathy bit and now it was time to move on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Mary – how insensitive of that “friend.” I am so sorry. As I read I immediately felt the punch in the gut you must have experienced from her words, however kindly they might have been intended.

      I have mourned the passing of pets for over a year, and SO much longer for a dear friend or loved one. NOBODY recovers in a single day — especially not from a death by suicide!

      Obviously she had never lost anyone – or rarely allows herself to process her feelings (maybe is afraid, even, to get in touch with them at all) – or perhaps she seldom thinks before she speaks.

      Thanks for reading and sharing a bit of your history with this comment. I know that a part of my being will *always* mourn the loss of my best friend, and I imagine that will be true for you as well. Every time something wonderful happens my first thought is always to wish my mother were alive so that I could share the good news with her, and she has been gone now for almost 30 years.

      I am comforted by the thought of how much worse it would be if people and animals left our thoughts when they left our lives.

      I am so sorry that your dear friend ended her own life – I can’t imagine the pain of trying to recover from that.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. John Fioravanti says:

    Thank you for courageously sharing this painful experience. You are blessed with the help you received from your friends. We are blessed with the telling of this important story because we all need to be more empathetic to friends and strangers alike.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – 22nd March 2017 – Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, Diary Of a Nineteen Year Old, Marilyn Armstrong and Jane Risdon | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  24. Wow Madelyn. What an intensely powerful article that allowed us to feel what you were experiencing. You are so correct about what is happening in our society and the loss of empathy. The part about him asking is there anything you want me to do not needing to be asked but rather he just did it. This is what we need to do again for ALL. What a survivor you are. The way you left the article was so powerful. Gang attacked. How horrible. Reading this made us realize how we never know what another goes through we just know they go through things. This article is such a testimony.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. robjodiefilogomo says:

    I have to hope that empathy can be a learned trait, Madelyn. Because I failed miserably on it during our marriage counseling (seriously—it was the only difference between Rob & I). But I think after you experience these fabulous occurrences, then you realize what you can do for others!!
    I would be one of those that said, “let me know what you need” because I wouldn’t know any better—not because I really didn’t want to help.
    So reading the stories is a tremendous aid!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. You are so right, talking about empathy and sympathy, so very needed right now, does very little to move the cause forward. A personal story does exactly that. Thank you for your courage, Madelyn. You were so fortunate to have friends like that in your time of need, especially Andy, such amazing support. I look forward to the next few weeks of these important posts. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for the endorsement. Next week, and in a similar ‘sharing my experience’ manner, I demonstrate the effect of NOT stepping forward, before Part III leaves what I hope will be a positive spin that fosters the idea that everyone can make a HUGE difference in somebody’s life by extending even the smallest gesture of kindness.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. I always find other people’s situation to be worse than mine. Everyone has troubles. It’s all our attitude and how we deal with it. And if we are lucky the right person to lean on when it happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was surprised by your first sentence, Helen, given what you are dealing with every day, but you are so right about that last part. Those of us who muddle through with happiness intact rarely do so in isolation. I’d say blessed rather than lucky, however – a more active frame that underscores the actions I hope this post will inspire.


  28. lwbut says:

    Well said Madelyn. Practical advice for all.

    Empathy Deficit Disorder – definitely exists and not limited to the US alone, i’m afraid.

    There was a (some say fictional) bloke i quite like a lot who said something to the effect of: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” that i think expresses exactly what you just wrote. Seems a lot of people frequently miss out the ‘neighbour as’ part 😦


    Liked by 1 person

  29. Yes, it’s a good thing to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes. We can learn so much from it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Stevie. My objective in this 3-parter is to provide some shoes that come with no pressure to do anything in MY life.

      My hope is that anyone who reads might remember “the trip” and empathize with folks in their own lives – close friends, neighbors, a stranger on the street – and step up to DO something helpful.

      Liked by 2 people

  30. it’s sad that so much people have no time to listen and walk away … but on the other hand… we will see who is a true friend and who is just a sun&fun buddy who runs as soon as some dark clouds appear…

    Liked by 2 people

  31. A very tough time and it clearly gave you a lesson in the difference between sympathy and empathy. Actions do speak louder than words and thank goodness you had such good friends around you. It builds a bond that not only keeps you whole but gives them an opportunity to discover new aspects of their own characters. That expression ‘steps up’ has always illustrated acts that are out of expected behaviour and your friends did that.. I am sorry that you then had to go through the mugging.. life changing. xxx Sally

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Sally. The mugging and its after-effects were truly an experience after which nothing will *ever* look the same.

      My reason for posting is to up the empathy factor in America right now, primarily. We shall need to work together to get through this administration, and we *must* affirm that every life matters.

      Thanks for ringing in.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Sue Vincent says:

    A sad fact that very many walk away when you become an ‘inconvenient challenge’ for them to be with, or simply ignore the problems as if they are not there, making it impossible to be with them. Those who just get on with being your friend are worth their weight in gold. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Lucy Brazier says:

    Friends really are the greatest blessing and I am so pleased that you had some good people standing by you during your darkest times. Don’t feel too badly about the others, some people just do not have the emotional intelligence or evolved empathy to cope with such situations. You don’t need them. I can only hope that they never find themselves in such situations and in need. You are very courageous for sharing such personal things with us all and I am very grateful that you do as there are important lessons for us all. I am very much looking forward to this series! Sending you a huge hug from across the pond 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Lucy. My objective for this part of the article is to offer a few examples for folks who stay away because they don’t know what to do.

      Part II will be tougher to read because it will bring to mind how friends might be faring without active love and support. In Part III things finally began to turn around for me with more than a little help from a few friends.

      And you are so right. Supportive friends are *better* than gold.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lucy Brazier says:

        These are very important articles and I thank you for writing them. Sometimes people want to help but – of course – they just don’t know how and are too embarrassed to ask. I await the others with great anticipation!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks, Lucy. I get it, but I’m truly hoping to change that “embarrassment reticence” for anyone who reads all three parts. Whatever they need in their own lives is usually welcomed and much needed in the lives of those who have experienced a tragedy. Even people who live too far away to help can call regularly, simply to listen, right?

          As you will see next week, *anything* is better than leaving someone totally alone, wondering how they will manage without help and without anyone to talk to. Except for the blogging community, too many in the chronic illness community that rings in here would have almost no company at all. Sad – and preventable with just a little bit of thoughtful consideration.

          Liked by 2 people

  34. newsspellcom says:

    Shocking but on the other hand not surprising these empathy-averse men chose to abscond from a relationship simply due to superficial appearances.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Madelyn so lovely and beautiful way of putting your great story and you are a wonderful lady all thanks to God who came in right people to help you through your ordeal. So true that empathy works in so kind ways and even being sympathetic towards what happened to you and how your friends worked towards your well being is creditable. Loved your strength and forbearance. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Ali Grimshaw says:

    What wonderful acknowledgements of those who stood by you through this extremely tough time in life. Thank you for talking about the need for empathy. It is time to seek to understand the experiences of those we share the planet with.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much, Ali. As I said, I am posting in my hope to increase empathy in a practical manner – reaching out to help those around us. I began with this particular experience because it was as positive as it could be, given all.

      I am in touch with many in the chronic illness community who have been essentially deserted by their former friends – or receiving only occasional calls that say only, “Tell me if you need anything,” rather than showing up with dinner – or asking what is needed from the grocery store – or any one of a dozen things that someone housebound cannot do without help.

      My hope in THIS part of the article is to point out some of the many ways that my friends stepped up to help so that anyone with a friend or loved one in any situation where they might be isolated might decide to do more – with non-shaming examples of what they might do.

      Next week, where I describe my more recent experience, will be a contrast, before the article concludes in a positive fashion in Part 3. I don’t know if my sharing will make the slightest difference, but I had to write and post – and hope.

      Liked by 2 people

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