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Compassion is Chicken Soup for the Soul: Project Good Words

Updated on April 30, 2015

A Project Good Words Challenge

This article is being written in response to a Project Good Words Challenge from my friend, and fellow hubber, Maria Jordan, aka Marcoujor on HubPages. The word for this week is compassion; a word that Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary defines as, "A feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc."

Maria and I are both nurse authors who have recently written true stories of compassion that have been published in book anthologies. I'm going to use those stories to illustrate the best and worst examples of nursing compassion, or lack thereof.

Gail Sobotkin, aka Happyboomernurse, has a story, "The Boy I Loved & Lost," in the new book, "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength."
Gail Sobotkin, aka Happyboomernurse, has a story, "The Boy I Loved & Lost," in the new book, "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength."

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength includes a story by Gail Sobotkin, titled "The Boy I Loved and Lost."
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength includes a story by Gail Sobotkin, titled "The Boy I Loved and Lost." | Source

The Boy I Loved and Lost by Gail Sobotkin

I was excited when I learned my story, "The Boy I Loved & Lost," would be included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength. The story's about my first love, Helmut, who died from bone cancer when he was 21 and I was 18. His death changed the course of my life because it inspired me to switch my college major from English to Nursing, and to silently dedicate my future career in his honor.

I'm retired from nursing now, but had the opportunity to speak at a Grief Workshop and Labyrinth Walk on November 1st in recognition of Delaware's Grief Awareness Week. The free event was sponsored by Delaware Hospice and the Milton Wellness Center, and participating in it was very meaningful for me because I'm a great believer in hospice services.

Such care did not exist when I lost Helmut, and worse still, the nurses who took care of him during the last 2 days of his life (which was the only time he spent in the hospital) seemed to be lacking one of the most basic qualities a nurse should have---compassion. They pretty much ignored both of us, checking on Helmut only when I asked them to, and then they acted like they couldn't get out of the room fast enough. None of them taught me comfort measures, told me what to expect, or took me aside to ask me how I was doing. No one told me, or Helmut's mother, the importance of releasing our loved one and letting him pass gently to the other side.

For 36 years after Helmut's death I aspired to be the kind of nurse Helmut had wanted me to be---a compassionate nurse who eased, whenever possible, the pain and suffering of those I cared for. I knew that the way nurses had treated us had been one of my greatest lessons in compassion because it taught me how not to act when caring for a patient who is dying.

But there was another teacher in the hospital room Helmut died in all those years ago, one I hadn't been conscious of until the night before I wrote my speech for the recent grief workshop, when the memory of Helmut's roommate, John, came rushing in on a flood of tears.

I read somewhere that memories are like diamonds in the treasure chest of your spirit, and the memory I had of John, the middle aged man in the bed across from Helmut's, came back to me like newly discovered hidden treasure. It was painful at first, then wonderfully comforting, as though a light-bulb had gone off in my head and illuminated a beautiful truth---John had taught me how to comfort and support a dying patient's loved ones with compassionate words.

John's Words Were a Gift of Compassion

This is what I remembered. While Helmut was sleeping, John waved me over to his own bedside. At first I thought he might want me to get him something but he said, "Helmut had a rough time last night, but your presence seems to soothe and calm him. He's like a different man when you're here. Please forgive me if I'm overstepping my bounds, but there's something I've been puzzling over---you both look so young, but the way you are together seems so intimate---like a couple who's been married for years. Are you his wife?"

I shook my head, "No, I'm his girlfriend, but we've been together for 2 years."

"May I ask how old you are?"


"So young to be going through something like this. It must be really hard on you."

I fought back tears and simply nodded that it was.

"You love him very much, don't you?"

I nodded again, and he waited a moment before speaking, as if cautiously weighing what he wanted to say. "It's palpable. I can see it, I can feel it, and simply watching the love between you has changed my whole perspective about young people, love, life, and even my own situation. I was feeling sorry for myself and hopeless about my future. My marriage recently broke up, I've lost my job and needed this surgery, but now I know I'm blessed to have a future and that I can go home and recover completely, and maybe even find the kind of love you and Helmut have someday. I don't know why, but I felt I needed to tell you these things and to tell you I'm sorry you're going through such a painful experience at such a young age."

"Thank you," I said. "That means a lot to me. I hope you do recover completely and find the love you're looking for."

Helmut and Me

Helmut and me at my High School Graduation Dinner, the year before he died.
Helmut and me at my High School Graduation Dinner, the year before he died. | Source

The Power of Love

I didn't realize it at the time, but John taught me the power of bearing witness to love, and the power of love itself. Love changes everything. It brings comfort, hope and heals the spirit even when healing the body is no longer possible.

Compassion is love. It lets the one who's hurting know their pain is recognized, and that another person is trying to alleviate it.

John's words reassured me that my presence, my love, was making a positive difference for Helmut. Even though I didn't consciously think that out when he spoke to me, I found myself uttering similar words throughout my long nursing career to the families of patients who were dying. I would teach them comfort measures and gently guide them through the dying process, letting them know that their presence, their love was the most powerful tool at their disposal.

And I also taught them that self-love and self-care were equally important. That the nurses, aides, and social worker were there to support them and that it was okay to go out, or take a nap when the aide was with their loved one.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength

Happyboomernurse is proud to have her story included in the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book.
Happyboomernurse is proud to have her story included in the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book. | Source

Marcoujor's Review of "The Boy I Loved & Lost."

Marcoujor, aka Maria Jordan, introduced and reviewed, "The Boy I Loved and Lost" on her website, Marcoujor's Musings. To read the review, go to: . Then take time to explore the rest of Marcoujor's Musings which contains inspirational stories, book reviews, and info about where to purchase books this amazing nurse/ author/teacher has published and/or edited.

Read 101 Stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength

You can read my story, "The Boy I Loved and Lost," and 100 other empowering stories of resilience, positive thinking, compassion and overcoming challenges, in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength which is now available at most book stores and through and other online retailers.

The stories will help you find the inner strength to handle the challenges in your own life, and the book makes a great gift, especially for someone who is facing difficult circumstances.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Poll

Do you own a Chicken Soup for the Soul Book?

See results

Nurse Author Published in Tales 2 Inspire: The Ruby Collection ~ Gifts of Compassion

Banner created by Mike Friedman, aka Mckbirdbks.
Banner created by Mike Friedman, aka Mckbirdbks.

Tales to Inspire: The Ruby Collection Review

The Ruby Collection is garnering 5 star reviews on including my own: "Each and every story touched my heart deeply. If you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a world where people and animals are treated with compassion, kindness and love, where the human spirit rises up again and again to meet seemingly impossible challenges, where faith triumphs over despair, where young children and abused animals teach adult humans life lessons, where the homeless are treated with respect and compassion, you must read The Ruby Collection, an anthology of 14 stories that will inspire you to live your own life with an open heart--- despite, or perhaps because of, whatever difficulties you may face.
Compassion is a gift that keeps on giving; it changes the giver, recipient, and all those who witness the compassionate act. It makes the world a better, kinder place and when delivered with love, has the power to transform the globe one person at a time." ~Gail Sobotkin

Song of Compassion: You've Got a Friend

Tales 2 Inspire: The Ruby Collection ~ Gifts of Compassion

Tales to Inspire: The Ruby Collection ~ Gifts of Compassion is an anthology of moving stories around the theme of compassion.

Every story in this gem of a book touched my heart, but the story that was written by my dear friend, and fellow hubber, Maria Jordan, made my spirit soar because it portrays a caring, gifted nurse. It's titled, "When Compassion Replaces Fear," and is a true tale about a psychiatric nurse who uses music and other creative means to reach out to a psychotic female patient, helping her re-enter society and the work force. Told by a nursing instructor, this story is a shining example of nursing at its finest and I wish every seasoned nurse and student nurse would read it as they will surely find inspiration to "go the extra mile" for their own patients.

This story, and book, is for anyone looking for an inspiring read that will warm their heart and restore their faith in humanity. Tales 2 Inspire: The Ruby Collection ~ Gifts of Compassion also makes a great gift for the holidays or for a friend struggling through hard times.

It's made my own holiday shopping easier this year as I know friends who will be uplifted by all of the amazing, compassionate stories in this beautiful book.

When Compassion Replaces Fear

Tales2Inspire ~ The Ruby Collection: Gifts of Compassion

Project Good Words Challenge

This hub was created after Maria Jordan challenged me to write about compassion as part of the Light2Love Project Good Words which was started by hubber Jo Goldsmith. To learn more about this project, and see some uplifting examples of it, click on the following links.

Thanks to the Compassionate Nurses I've Known

During my long nursing career I was blessed to work with many compassionate nurses who taught me, through their positive examples, how to improve my nursing skills and comfort patients.

In my private life, there have been many nurses, aides and social workers who have extended tremendous compassion and great care to my loved ones who were in the hospital for surgery, health care issues, or at the end days of their lives. They reinforced my belief that providing emotional and physical assistance to a patient's loved ones and care givers is an integral part of quality nursing. I was blessed that they took care of some of my loved ones when I was unable to be with them myself.


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