How to Prevent Compassion Fade During a Pandemic
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Compassion Fade

The number is huge: 1 million.

But it’s more than a number. It’s people. 1 million people. That’s how many have died around the world from the coronavirus.

It’s easy to get lost in big numbers. We can’t fathom it.

And oddly enough, the larger the number, the less the compassion.

It’s called compassion fade. It’s different than compassion fatigue.

  • Compassion FATIGUE results from helping people we know. It is a burnout or exhaustion from helping often (like health care workers, educators, caretakers, etc.).
  • Compassion FADE relates to caring about people we don’t know. It is a decrease in empathy as the number of people in need increase.

With our current pandemic, while many are experiencing compassion fatigue due to their job or circumstances, many more (including those) are also experiencing compassion fade due to caring about people worldwide.

It’s overwhelming.

How to Prevent Compassion Fade During a Pandemic_pin

Have You Had It?

Have you had COVID-19? Has someone you love had it? Have you lost anyone to it? 

Within the past two months, it’s circled in closer and closer to my friends and family.

My older sister and brother-in-law have had it. Several nieces and their spouses. One of my best friends and all her family. My neighbors. So far, all have recovered without requiring hospitalization, thank God. 

But even dealing with the cases in my small corner of the world is distressing.

Take One at a Time

How can we prevent compassion fade during a pandemic?

We have to narrow it back down. To one person at a time. One day at a time. One situation at a time.

When we see one face in front of us, we’re more compassionate than when we see a chart of statistics worldwide.

Mother Teresa has been quoted as saying,

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”

That’s advice worth taking. We see Jesus worked that way. While he healed multitudes, he did it one at a time.

That’s all we need to do, too. Take one at a time, one day at a time. The person nearest us.

EXTRA: Here’s a 14-minute podcast about compassion fade. Listen to Dr. Sanjay Gupta explain “Uncomfortably Numb” on Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction.

Featured Post—Our One

For our blogging community, here is one we can pray for. Our blogging friend Jerralea has tested positive for COVID-19.

Here is Jerralea’s post from last Friday from our Grace and Truth Linkup. I’m featuring it this week to make sure she’s on your radar, too, as one of your “one’s” to pray for.

Read Jerralea’s post at her blog Jerralea’s Journey, and pray for her as she waits on the Lord.  

“Positive in a Time of COVID”

Share your own blog posts at the linkup below. 


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We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
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LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
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Have you or someone you loved had COVID-19? Share your thoughts in the comments.

14 thoughts on “How to Prevent Compassion Fade During a Pandemic
—Grace & Truth Linkup

  1. blankJoanne Viola

    Lisa, I have to admit – I had not heard the term before. I am not sure how the Lord has done it, but I have found I am more concerned for people as this year has gone on. I do watch the numbers daily and it has served to move me to pray for others. May God keep each of our hearts tender and fervent. Blessings to you today, friend!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I hadn’t heard of that term either. I’d heard of compassion fatigue only. I don’t watch the numbers as much as I did initially, but now that ours are going back up again, I’ll keep a closer eye. It’s comforting to know there are so many people praying!

  2. blankJerralea

    Lisa, so sweet of you to mention me today and invite people to pray. I definitely need it.

    You know, my brother told me I’m the only one he personally knows that has it, so it hadn’t really seemed that real to him.

    I loved your ideas about compassion fade – and what a cool graphic!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      How are you feeling, Jerralea? I’m sure you’re still tired, at the very least! It often takes someone we know catching it to make it seem real, so I understand your brother’s thought. It took awhile before I knew someone in person that actually had it, but now, unfortunately, I know several people who do.

      Continuing to pray for you to have a full recovery!!!

  3. blankDonna

    Thank you, Lisa, very timely post. I have heard this before, though working in hospice and palliative medicine, compassion fatigue is more of a threat for a natural empath like me. My problem is sometimes the opposite, I care too much and feel others’ pain too easily. I have already seen the phenomena you address today in my world, people becoming weary with it all.

  4. blankBarbara Harper

    I had not heard the term, but I understand it. It’s one reason I don’t watch the news. Bad news upon bad news, and then the anchor switches on a smile to talk about something else, or the screen switches to a silly commercial as if none of that awful news is real. It’s overwhelming. Yet when I do hear news, I try to pray for the individuals or at least in a general way that God will work through these crises to draw people to Himself. It does help, too, to remember that no one can help everyone, but most can help someone.

    I had not heard about Jerralea–I’ll go over now and check on her. We’ve had one lady in our church test positive, but she had no symptoms (but still quarantined for 2 weeks). But I’ve heard of friends with loved ones who have had it.

  5. blankLesley

    This is an interesting post! It is so important to remember that behind each of the numbers there are people. One thing I really appreciate about the Scottish first minister is that whenever she announces any deaths in her Covid updates, she always offers her condolences to the families and reminds everyone that each person is important. Some media channels can report “only 3 deaths” for example, which is really insensitive to those who are mourning.
    Personally I don’t know of many people who have had Covid. A friend’s mum caught it when she was in hospital for something else, but even though she’s in her 80s I’m not sure she even had any symptoms, just a positive test. And I have a friend who had all the symptoms but couldn’t get a test because it was back in April when testing was very limited here. She was ill for about two weeks but made a full recovery.

  6. blankMarielle

    I haven’t thought about this in these terms before. Thank you for teaching about this. I have seen the power of focusing on or ministering to the one. I try to keep that perspective in being present with one child, writing to bless just one soul, and praying for others one by one. Thank you also for sharing about Jerralea. Thanks for hosting. Have a great weekend Lisa!

  7. blankLois Flowers

    Lisa, I wasn’t familiar with the term “compassion fade,” but it makes perfect sense. Thanks for the guidance about how to combat it. I haven’t had Covid, but like you, it has recently begun to “circle in closer and closer to my friends and family.” Hugs, friend.

  8. blankJed Jurchenko

    Lisa, the term “compassion fade” imidately caught my attention. You are so right. This pandemic is sticking around and your post is such a great reminder that I am in this for the longhaul.

    As a therapist, I often hear the phrase “compassion fatigue,” but for some reason, the slightly different wording of “compassion fade” stood out to me. Thank you for the reminder not to grow weary an to keep reaching out to one person at a time.

    Thank you for hosting a great link-up too!

  9. blankLaurie

    Thank you for teaching me the difference between compassion fatigue and compassion fade. I had never heard of the latter term before. It is true thaat when I try to picture that lage number of people, it is difficult to feel as much compassion as when I think of one special person. The numbers are just staaggering, even here in this country. Thanks for your guidance on how to fight compassion fade.

  10. blankShannon

    Thanks for sharing about this, Lisa. I experience the compassion fade. I remember back when the pandemic began feeling devastated at the numbers coming out of Europe (especially Italy). Then we started losing even more people here, but I felt numb to it. I think, as humans, we just can’t conceptualize the loss of over 200,000 people. My background is in nursing and public health, so I know many individuals who are on the front lines seeing this every day (some have even contracted it and ended up in the hospital). They keep reminding me of just how real it is!

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