This happened many years ago.

The old lady sat in the room sobbing.

The old man, her husband, a retired army major, stared straight ahead.

They had just lost their son in a motor- bike accident.

I sat holding her hand, there was nothing I could say; the grief was intense, unbearable.

Suddenly the lady looked at me, her face washed with a million tears. "Say something!" she said softly, "You are so good with words, say something to us Bob!" I looked at her startled, and wondered what words of comfort I could give to a grieving mother, what to a heart broken father.

I prayed silently, asking God for thoughts, and words came hesitatingly, slowly: "Today," I said, "you lie shattered, with what has happened, I don't know why your son died, but from now on you will be a source of great strength to many, many people when they lose their loved ones. You will be able to console mothers and fathers when they lose their children and comfort children when their parents pass away. You will be able to go to them, put your arms around them, and say, 'I have been there!' I know what your grief is!"

The lady looked up at me, her grip tightened on my arm. The old man stopped staring into the distance also looked at me and I saw their tears had stopped. Suddenly it seemed they saw something they had not seen before.

Last year while teaching salesmen from Mahindra’s how to handle aggrieved customers I decided to do some role play situations and brought in a situation of a customer who’d brought in a new jeep finding that it had not been serviced properly. Most of the group tried to handle the mock customer with reasons and logic but the customer could not be mollified. He was angry, and acted out his anger well!

Suddenly, one of those in the group, got up, and went to the customer and said, “I work here, and I know how you feel!”

“How do you know how I feel?” the man who was acting as the aggrieved customer asked.

“Because, I own a scooter, and last week when I took the scooter to a workshop to be repaired the same thing happened to me, and I assure you, that knowing what I went through the same won’t happen to you again!”

Everybody clapped. The problem had been handled with a scooter owner knowing what a car owner was going through.

Look at both the incidents I have mentioned. I have no reason to wish sorrow or grief on you dear reader, but if you do go through some incident which causes you sadness, remember you will soon be a source of strength to many.

It's called empathy, and can take you from sadness to strength..!

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