We All Deserve an Empathetic Listener

An empathetic listener gives us time to find the words.

After I began working with family caregivers in 1990, I fell in love.

I loved listening to family caregivers tell their stories. Their experiences contained all the elements of a great book:

  • drama (would the doctor call back?)

  • mystery (would the sibling ever show up?)

  • terror (would the bumps in the night be just that?)

  • and courage. So much courage.

Because I focused so much on listening to the narrative and wondering what would happen next, I never sat in judgement. I never told anyone what to do and how to do it. I let the family caregivers drive the car, perhaps offering a navigation tip here and there, but respecting that they captain their journey.

As I spent more and more years helping and supporting, I began to add more navigation tips because I could help them avoid potholes and detours and speed traps having traveled these roads so many times before as a passenger. They still drove, though.

Because I sat with family caregivers, I gave them time to reflect, which helped them find the words for experiences that often left them speechless. During a caregiving experience, we see so much that hurts our heart and crushes our soul that we often can’t quite explain it. With a patient listener, we can find our way to the words.

About four years ago, I added a requirement that participants in our Certified Caregiving Consultant training program tell a four-minute story of their choice. They decide the story, they can practice or not, they can use notes or not. The transformation that happens after a participant tells a story is amazing. After one participant told a story, I told her that I saw a veil lift from her face. She had lived with a judgement that she had not done enough to help her father; that judgment settled over her like a dark cloud. Sharing the story to a supportive group transformed her, almost as if the sun replaced the cloud.

I want you to have this experience, too. I want you to tell a story to another who gets it. I want you to feel and receive the kind of support that takes away any judgment you hold toward yourself.

This summer, I’d love for you to release the stress that anchors you so you can enjoy sunnier summer days. You’ll meet with me for two 30-minute sessions scheduled at a time convenient for you. During your first session, you’ll tell a four-minute story. In your second session, you’ll complete a simple assessment to gain insights about where you are and where you want to be.

I’d love for you to schedule these two free sessions with me. Before we meet for the first session, you’ll complete a one-minute survey. You’ll complete a second survey after our second session. These surveys will help me improve our work.

You deserve an opportunity to tell your story to another who truly believes in the value of hearing it. I’d love to be your empathetic listener.

Learn more and schedule your free two sessions with me.

(Image by ardoramanda from Pixabay.)


  • In the spring of 1990, I had a flashlight moment which led me to my caregiving work. I believe everyone has a flashlight moment. During our virtual five- day camp which begins July 12, we’ll find yours. To enroll, just visit Caring Our Way, our community on Mighty Networks, and then click to start creating your membership.

  • Please join us on August 17, 18 and 19 at 1 p.m. ET for “Reflections on Caregiving During the Pandemic.” On August 17 and 18, family caregivers will join one-hour panel discussions to share their experiences during the pandemic. On August 19, we’ll convene for an hour to talk out solutions. RSVP.

  • Our Beginning Again Retreat will take place on August 6. Join us as you recover from your caree’s death and transition into what’s next. RSVP.

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