Holding Up the Sky

September 23, 2011

One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying flat on its back on the ground.
The bird’s tiny feet were raised up into the air.
“What on earth are you doing, Hummingbird?” asked the elephant.
The hummingbird replied, “I have heard that the sky might fall today. If that should happen, I am ready to do my bit in holding it up.”
The elephant laughed and mocked the tiny bird.
“Do you think those little feet could hold up the sky?”
“Not alone,” admitted the hummingbird. “But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do.”                
           -From Three Minute Tales by Margaret Read MacDonald

For each of us, the need to help is felt deep within. We do everything we can to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome animals here at Kitsap Humane Society. We truly do feel the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. We cheer each other on, problem solve, cry together and support each other to help prevent compassion fatigue.

The number of lives and sadness we are exposed to creates a burden on the heart and soul of each one of us. We dedicate our lives to making a difference for each animal that comes through our doors. The emotional stress can be draining, and is very real. When it becomes too much for us, it is called Compassion Fatigue.

Sadness, guilt, anger, lack of sleep and isolation are signs of CF. We become overwhelmed not only at work, but home as well. When we feel like a sponge that can’t absorb any more pain and suffering, we need to pay more attention to ourselves, and create a balance between taking care of ourselves and taking care of others.

There are things that can help us daily to avoid Compassion Fatigue. It is important to process strong emotions instead of avoiding them and letting them destroy us. We need to make time for ourselves, and take care of ourselves first. If we cannot take care of ourselves, there will be nothing left of us to take care of the animals. Always remember why we are dedicated to helping animals. Identify what is important, and live in a way that reflects it. We should always get back to the basics and know our limitations. We cannot save every animal no matter how hard we try. What we are able to do for these animals is amazing, and each one of us makes a difference every day. We save 95% of the animals that come into our shelter. Focusing on the positive should always put a smile on our faces.

Here at Kitsap Humane Society we can work together to prevent Compassion Fatigue. Together we can hold up the sky.
                            -Heather Kite, Animal Welfare Coordinator