When we are confronted with the suffering of another person, there is only one thing that can overcome our own helplessness and that helps the other person: showing compassion and sensitivity.
As Bentzion Groner and his wife Rochel sat on the plane for North Carolina, they were preparing themselves for a long flight — but not for what they would experience in the meantime.
In the middle of the journey over the Atlantic, a small boy began to scream loudly and to cry. He was autistic — and as can easily happen to people with autism, the unfamiliar situation of flying had frightened and confused him so much that, in his distress, he could not be calmed down.
The boy screamed and screamed. His parents were unable to comfort him and he couldn’t stop panicking. His tension began to broadcast itself to the other passengers who also became uneasy. Nobody said anything, but they were all slowly becoming increasingly nervous — on a flight with no imminent possibility of landing, in a particularly uncomfortable situation.
So Rochel, who works in a facility for young people with disabilities, took the initiative. She stood up, went over to the young boy and quietly held out her hand to him. The boy looked at her for a while, and then took her hand and followed her into a corner of the plane. She sat down with him and held him protectively in her arms, until his tears had dried.
Over the next two hours, Rochel sat with the boy in the corner, drew with him, played with him and let him tap about on her phone. He quickly relaxed and seemed to feel very much at ease.
The boys parents were just as thankful as the rest of the passengers.
With a little calmness, compassion and empathy, Rochel had achieved the most beautiful thing a person can — to create a connection with another human being and give them safety in their time of need. It’s so wonderful that she could be there for him.