You are not really heartbroken

I saw a bunch of tweets today where people talk about being heartbroken about the latest shooting. It’s a horrible thing, to be sure, but I think we need to re-evaluate the use of “heartbroken”. The parents, sisters, brothers, BFFs, and the rest of their family are heartbroken. They won’t see their loved one ever again. There is a real pain in their heart that will be there a long time.

Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash

We are sympathetic. Maybe we’re sad. Maybe we’re angry. But I seriously doubt that you can be heartbroken over someone you only heard about today. I think we should reserve heartbroken for the people who really have that pain and loss in their heart. I don’t have the answers for how anyone should feel, but after losing my mom this year, I understand heartbroken.

When words become cheap, then the things associated with them do too. Heartbroken is a powerful word, full of pain and grief and loss and love. It changes you and stays with you. It creates the tears that come for no reason, tears that fall while you are driving down Main Street, or sitting staring into your coffee.

If everyone who said they were heartbroken were really truly heartbroken, then maybe things would change enough so that fewer people have to be heartbroken from the latest mass shooting, because it didn’t happen. Maybe then we would learn real empathy.