Compassion Fatigue

IMG_2850Anyone in the medical field knows a little something about this one.

Likewise anyone who is a first responder, a police officer, a therapist, social worker, teacher, caretaker, a parent, pretty much anyone who works with people in general, or anyone who watches the news, peruses Facebook or any other social media network, or even reads the occasional informative blog.

So basically everyone knows a little something about this.

How much more sadness, trauma, hate, rage, violence, death, injustice, unfairness, stupidity, uncertainty can we all take?  How much until none of us can give a shit anymore?

That’s what Compassion Fatigue is -overwhelmed by too much tragedy and suffering, people become conditioned to feel less compassion in general.  They just don’t care.  They become numb.

I feel it.  Mostly because my mere compassion doesn’t result in any changes.  Like when 20 children were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 and I honestly thought I wouldn’t stop crying.  I just knew the whole country must have felt the same way.  Those babies, around my son’s age.  He would be starting Kindergarten that fall.  Their faces like my son’s, sweet, happy, silly, innocent.  How could that have happened to them?  There was no way it could ever happen again.  This tragedy would finally be the last.  We as a nation would collectively make a change.

But that didn’t happen.  Nothing really changes, does it?  Even the death of children didn’t make much of a difference.  Since then 1065 people have died in mass shootings in the United States, but I didn’t feel all of their deaths.  I was numb.  I was tired.

It’s happened again.  This time 49 adults in a nightclub in Orlando.  Cue the requisite inundation of social media posts and tweets, half-assed sentiments of prayers and thoughts, thoughts and prayers.  I can barely look at their faces because I feel that I failed them.  I didn’t take a stand.  I didn’t make a difference and my tears for murdered children were as meaningful as everyone’s thoughts and prayers.  Which is to say they really meant nothing at all.


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10 Responses to Compassion Fatigue

  1. It is in our nature to care, to be compassionate and to feel empathy for other creatures…but it gets exhausting to keep doing it over and over again. I totally agree with your post and it’s really been a “this is happening again?” moment when I read about these poor people. These actions make the rest of us live in fear and constantly watching over our shoulder, but nothing really changes… people look past it, learn to live with the loss or the tragedy and go on with their lives… then evil strikes again! and you sit there and think “damn! we knew it was just a matter of time…”

    We’re back to wanting to live secluded, away from any potential danger…away from the big cities, the big targets. It’s very upsetting because I feel like we are moving backwards, but it seems that choice to be safer and healthier. Those that can will move far, far away

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s only so far we can go, there will always be some form of danger. I hope I chose to take a stand. Even if it’s quietly. Writing letters. Blog Posts. Talking with friends. A movement of sorts without all the shouting and rhetoric. Where the lives lost on American soil and not just on the battlefield are not in vain.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you wrote this. I think you said everything I was thinking and feeling, but couldn’t put words to. The fact that losing all of those sweet, innocent babies wasn’t enough to bring major change is heart-breaking and maddening. It just keep keeps happening, and like you, I feel defeated.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Amanda. It WAS hard to put it into to words. I want to do more. I ran a race today, a simple 5K that was raising money for a special needs school. I saw a dad running with his daughter, I couldn’t hear him, but the body language suggested that he was annoyed with how slow she was, how she kept stopping to catch her breath. He kept putting his hand on her back and nudging her and she would try to move away from him. I kept trying to catch up, I wanted to say something. Even though they kept stopping, they were faster and I could never quite reach them. At the finish line she was crying (she was probably 11 or 12) and her mother was holding her. It was then that I realized I can’t save the world. I can’t take away all the hurt. I can’t make all the assholes understand. And sometime, believe it or not, I’m that asshole, too. *sigh* will we humans ever get it right?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh, that hurts to read about 😦 I just returned from a trip with my niece and nephew, and it hurt to hear how they talk about their parents (my brother and his wife). I know they love their kids, but they’re not the most gentle and patient people. I too want so badly to “correct” the adults, or somehow “heal” the kids, but it’s impossible to do much in one week out of the year.

        It’s really hard to admit that we can’t fix everything or everyone, isn’t it? Even harder to admit that sometimes we’re part of the problem. I suppose all we can do is try our very hardest to be as kind, helpful, and generous as we can. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think that’s the secret! Try…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Deb says:

    Thank you for this post. It makes my post from yesterday seem a bit less in the spotlight of defeat in which I basically focus on giving up on this really screwed up world we live in.

    Liked by 1 person

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