How to Heal a Broken Heart
By Luke Hallowell
It was compassion week, and I found myself struggling to teach students to be compassionate. It’s one thing to know what compassion means; it’s another to actually display it to others.
In one of our morning sessions, Adriana, a new staff member who just joined us for the summer, said she could teach the morning lesson about compassion. She gave the students a red heart and told them to tear it each time they heard something heartbreaking in the story she proceeded to tell.
Adriana then told the kids about a girl who attempted to take her own life in her high school bathroom. She told about the things she suffered through, from sexual and physical abuse to being told she was too thin to having rumors spread that she was pregnant when she decided to eat more. She studied hard, and had fantastic grades, but the social pressure and bullying she suffered through had led her to the point of wanting to end her life. Thankfully she was found before she had a chance to do it, and now that young woman is a college graduate.
Once Adriana finished her story, the mood in the room had visibly shifted. Students took the time to think about their peers and who might be going through a similar situation.
Adriana then asked them to re-assemble the heart that was nearly torn to shreds. Several students were in tears, and others stood up to comfort them. It was incredible to see the value of compassion come to life—this wasn’t just a nice thing to do for others, compassion might save someone’s life! The group worked together to put the pieces of the heart together, and learned how difficult it is for people to heal when they’ve been hurt and the damage it does. Best of all, they’re learning to be compassionate.