A Word About Empathy

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I have spent my entire life in and around the Charlotte area. My parents were both raised here. I stayed here in the Queen City as an adult as I was offered career opportunities in other cities. My husband and I chose to raise our family here. I love this city.

My heart is heavy with the events that have happened in this city that I call home this week.

We live in a time filled with so much information. I feel overwhelmed by words and inundated with opinions. Scenes of hatred and violence weigh on my mind and my soul.

I would like to say to all involved I want to listen. I want to learn.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. I don't think empathy exists.

I can only speak to my own personal loss and subsequent experience. Many, many people have felt extreme sadness and emotion about the loss of my daughter Madison. Only those who have gone through what I have are able to understand. Those who have not, and try to empathize, often make me feel disconnected and angry.

We should not seek to understand another's experience or place our own opinions or emotions on it. I have felt the most supported in my own journey when people have allowed me to speak authentically about it. I welcome questions that show a genuine interest in learning without advice or a one-liner designed to package up my feelings with a charge to get past it.

With very honorable intentions and love, we attempt to understand what someone is going through. In the process, we naturally apply our own experience and opinion. I truly feel it is best just to listen with care instead of trying to relate.

I love my city. I will continue to pray fervently for space to bring the change we desperately need so that my children will not have to bear witness to events like these.

Henderson Lafond is the founder of Madison's Closet. Our mission is to comfort and clothe moms who suffered a perinatal loss by providing complimentary donated clothing to help them reclaim their self confidence. Please visit Madison's Closet to learn more about receiving or donating clothing.