Sometimes helping others vent emulates empathy where none is actually needed. Taking action to "fix" a tragedy may be counterproductive for everyone.
I don't think empathy for others, in its truest form, even exists. You'll never be able to enter the microcosm that is another individual to see what their emotional states are. "Empathy" is only an illusion adopted by those who've had similar experiences and think they're on the same page, which they might be, though they're actually reading entirely different books.
Sympathy is a broader "What would most people feel in this situation". It's pretty easy to have a sense of sympathy for someone who've having their limbs sawed off.
I don't think one is superior to the other. They just are.