Sympathy involves understanding from your own perspective. When a person feels sympathy, they care and are sorry about someone else’s grief. A person who is sympathetic feels sorry for a person, which might not be helpful in situations where people are in pain.
Empathy involves putting yourself in the other person's shoes and understanding WHY they have these feelings. When a person feels empathy, they understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions. Empathy becomes a bridge that connects two people and creates a space for more genuine healing, understanding, and compassion.
To summarize, empathy is a much more effective way to connect with those who are going through significant emotional pain.