We don’t all see the world the same. That is obvious. But many of us – after loss or infertility or both – find that we no longer see the world the same as our younger selves either. If the world had been safe before, then it is no longer safe. If we felt we had belonged before, we no longer feel we belong. If we thought that there was meaning before, maybe we no longer feel there is meaning. The world changes and we change with it.
Seeing the world differently for me meant that I was suddenly aware that many people don’t see the world as safe, struggle to find meaning, and no longer feel they belong. I could see the vulnerability of so many of us, and could understand others' pain or fear or isolation, having come face to face with these myself. I understood grief and the grieving so much more, no matter what the loss is. And there are so many losses in this world.
I was able to take my experiences, the process of grief, longing, loneliness, and healing, and use them to try to understand others. The desire to try to understand had always been there for me. But I started used it consciously, realising that previously I had probably empathised when it was natural, easy, or made me feel comfortable.
This might seem contradictory, but I also understand much better that we can never make assumptions about what someone is thinking or feeling. Empathy and compassion forces me to think things through, to try to understand the different reasons why someone might act the way they do, say what they say, feel the way they feel. This understanding helps the compassion come more easily, and as it does, judgements and assumptions slip away. And so the empathy grows. Of course, that enables me to help people. I like that.