Empathy and sympathy are mistaken to be synonymous to one another.

However they are totally different in meaning and in the manner through which they are displayed.

Sympathy is the state in which you feel sorry for an individual because of the grief or misfortune.

On the other hand empathy is the feeling of understanding and sharing in another person’s feelings or emotions.

The manner in which one conveys sympathy and empathy are totally different.

In sympathy

People talk about how they feel about you and the situation you are in but may not directly express their feelings towards you.

There is empty talk and the most common is I will pray for you. They say things they will not do but think of doing.

You hear words such as wooiee “yaani nani has gone through all that, why do bad things happen to good people?”

People say they will be there for you but will never do anything after those words.

Sympathetic people make the situation hopeless with words like “maisha yake ni ngumu kama ingekuwa mimi… hata sijui.”

In Empathy

People express how they feel directly towards you.

People say what they mean

People are there for you; they check up on you and do not necessarily have to say it.

The help you find is genuine.

Someone will give you hope through their word and actions.

Therefore we should aim at providing empathetic healing rather than sympathetic sorrow. Show concern rather than empty talk because that is what sympathy is mainly about. Your sympathy leaves one more hopeless than before  not knowing what to think about. On the other hand empathy leaves one knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

For whatever situation empathy is felt in one’s voice, words and non-verbal cues.