Sympathy allows you to feel compassion and support toward someone who is suffering, while empathy allows you to understand and share another person’s grief. I find people often tell me their sorrows and at times I will find myself crying at their tears before I even know what the problem is. I am a willing listener and will show either empathy or sympathy, depending on the situation. Many people do not understand the subtle difference between the two; sympathy means you don’t quite understand how the person feels, having never experienced the same thing, whilst empathy is when you totally understand the feelings of another, having suffered the very same thing yourself. At the end of the day, showing compassion for fellow human beings is what really matters not whether you are being sympathetic or empathetic, or if you understand the difference between the two.
“Empathy is walking a mile in someone else’s moccasins. Sympathy is being sorry their feet hurt.”