The Gift of Empathy

Rebekah Dorr avatar

by Rebekah Dorr |

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Chronic illness holds a lot of bittersweetness in its grasp. It takes away, and it gives. It teaches, and it humbles. One of the best opportunities it offers is the chance to give the gift of empathy and understanding to another. In suffering I have learned how to laugh with those who laugh and weep with those who weep, to validate pain and celebrate victory. Suffering has taught me to get into the dirty mess of humanity and dig through the boggy mire with my fellow human beings — and that was beautiful.

However, I didn’t understand just how beautiful and deeply profound it is to walk with someone else along their journey until I found myself wrestling against such a strange and unpredictable creature as myasthenia gravis. That is, until someone waded into my life and offered me their outreached hands and picked me up each time I fell. Following my diagnosis, I felt immune to the changes this disease would ultimately bring. I was confident that I could handle it on my own, but I soon learned the necessity of a faithful few who didn’t run when my reality overwhelmed.  

It’s so hard to appropriately convey my journey when it’s one that few have encountered. How do you capture the roller coaster that is your health? How do you explain how alive your heart and mind are with dreams and emotions, while your body extinguishes each hopeful spark. And how do you explain the unexplainable, the tangibly invisible, the burgeoning need to be seen and understood; to be upheld through each rise and fall? We must fight not only for our lives but for our souls. We must nurture our future as we battle our present. 

Empathy is born from the depths of our experiences and calls us to extend the gifts of compassion and the hope of belief as we stand by others through their journeys. Like a match struck against the rough grain that produces a flickering flame, we are called to embrace the friction of illness rather than run from it, and in doing so, we offer a light against the shadowed darkness of someone else’s path. We aren’t getting out of this life unscathed, and we won’t find refrain from the turmoil that broken health often brings by soldiering on alone, so we may as well journey together.

We often think of healing as a singular ideal pursued by medicine, but it encompasses so much more. It calls to us to extend the hands of quiet grace as we walk alongside one another. Healing touches not just the body but the heart and mind and soul. It spills over into the life of another and helps them at their lowest ebb. It floods into our lives when we share the greatest gift of all: ourselves.


Myasthenia Gravis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


Chuck R avatar

Chuck R

You know, I don't even think about my MG anymore. It's been 18 years since the diagnosis and thymus operation, and I understand the limitations involved in exercising and breathing; and I certainly wish my eyelids were open completely, but all in all...could have been a condition much more restricting. Of course I've been retired the majority of that time, so I have little stress which has always exasperated the condition.


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