Empathy means exposure to both happy and painful emotions.
When you allow yourself the opportunity and time to enter into a relationship with a living thing, animal, plant and human, you expose yourself to the happy and painful of emotions.
I have empathy for a fox called Amber, and so I experience the happy emotions of seeing her, and the anxiety that exposure of my emotions brings to a wild creature at the mercy of the elements of nature. For two weeks Amber vanished from her frequent daytime visits to my garden to enjoy the warm sun. I am aware of a new fox running around at night, young, strong and fast. I was anxious and hopeful that Amber remained in control of her territory against a new potential rival.
I was happy to see Amber emerge once more in the garden today. Anxiety however emerged with the visit of Amber, she was coughing. My research might suggest my beautiful fox has suffered infection by lung/heart worm, a parasite that infects a fox that has eaten infected snails, a species that has exploded in population due to the extensive rains Colchester has suffered. The parasite sometimes is fatal for a fox, a reminder that nothing lasts, death will come to us all.
When a person exposes themselves to empathy for a living thing it brings with it the full range of emotions, happy and painful. This is the risk of living, to feel this range of emotion. Although I am aware that hardship and death is always present in the shadows, my philosophy is to enjoy the moment, celebrate the life of a beautiful living creature, and enjoy the living creature that now lives sleeping in the sun in front of me.