The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Khalil Gibran

While Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese-American writer and artist, died in 1931, his words hold great truth today.

Have old sorrows left Ronnie and I with a greater capacity for the joy we experience when admiring this beautiful sunset out our back door? I believe so.

Has sorrow carved into your being? If so, has it left you with the capacity for greater joy? Has the healing process opened your eyes to blessings you might have otherwise failed to fully appreciate?


Figley (1993) defines compassion fatigue as: the natural consequence of behavior and emotions resulting from knowing about a traumatizing event experienced by a significant other/person: the stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized or suffering person. Figley (1995) further defines compassion fatigue as: …state of exhaustion and dysfunction (biologically, psychologically, and socially) as a result of prolonged exposure to compassion stress.”

Caregivers are not the only ones susceptible to compassion fatigue. Teachers, counselors, doctors, nurses, police officers, paramedics, social workers, armed forces, etc…. also get burned out from giving and giving and never or rarely taking for themselves. We get trapped in that constant feeling of not doing enough. So we do more, and it seems the more we do, the more there is to do. Does this sound familiar?

If we’re not careful, compassion fatigue can result in a negative attitude and detachment. It can adversely impact job performance, motivation, confidence, behavior, relationships with others, and the level of joy and happiness in our lives. Therefore, as we care for those around us, it’s important to be aware of our needs, too.

The following recommendations for healthy living can help us cope with compassion fatigue. It’s all about taking care of you!

  • Get 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night
  • Eat nutritious food
  • Exercise regularly
  • Make and keep your doctor’s appointments
  • Get counseling or therapy if warranted
  • Talk about your feelings with trusted friends or family
  • Read and/or write for understanding
  • Keep learning and exercising your mind
  • Maintain relationships with friends and family. If old relationships fade (which can naturally happen with long-term caregiving), forgive and move on. Find new people.
  • Join a social group or on-line community
  • Have some goofy fun on a regular basis (my good friend Carol Stewart taught me this one)

Are you burned out from giving? Has prolonged exposure to compassion stress left you numb? What do you do to cope?