“If you are comforting someone who is mourning do not be unwilling to show him sympathy, if it is appropriate mourn with him. But take care that you do not internalize the mourning.” – Epictetus
Just as we can expect bad things to happen to us, we can expect bad things to happen to people that we care about. Just as we only control how we respond to the things that happen to us, we only have control over our responses to the events in our loved ones lives as well.
An important distinction here is that part of what we have no control over in our loved one’s lives is the response or reaction they choose to have in regard to the events and situations they experience.
We cannot control it is a friend chooses to sink into self pity or if they choose to try to control the outcome of something that is outside of their ability to control. What we can control if whether or not we allow ourselves to be pulled into their line of thinking. We do not need to internalize the things that happen to others in order to sympathize with them or offer them compassion. In fact, by internalizing someone else’s grief or sorrow we make their issue about us if only in our own minds. By making someone else’s issue about us we do little for them in terms of compassion or sympathy. Better to be there but remain strong, compassionate, but detached.
virtus fortis vocat