Many Kinds of Compassion


We had eight strong, healthy children and were expecting our ninth. Complications set in, and the baby was stillborn at home early one Sunday morning. At first I was very weak physically, but soon felt strong. Emotionally, however, I was very fragile.

Many people came to help us bear our burden. Some brought food, comforting us with nourishment when our hearts were too sad to care about preparing food.

Some people came with advice, suggesting ways I could feel better, exploring why the stillbirth had happened, encouraging us to try again. The counsel didn’t always agree with my own perceptions, but later many of those words came to my mind to provide encouragement and food for further thought and prayer.

Some simply put their arms around me, and we wept together. They said nothing, but in those close, tender embraces were great communication and healing.

Other people felt even sadder than I did. They came, weeping, and I would comfort them. This, too, brought healing and love and purpose.

Reflecting later on these different forms of compassion, I felt gratitude for each. I felt that every small effort had its place and meaning. I learned that if our intent is to comfort someone, we do not have to worry about our gift, but simply go and share it. In its own way, it will demonstrate our love and concern as we sincerely try to bear one another’s burdens.

[photo] Photography by Jed A. Clark

Kathy Summers, mother of nine, teaches Primary in her Kailua, Hawaii, ward.