Everybody Grieves

Everybody Grieves

2600 years ago (the story goes), a woman distraught with grief went to the Buddha and begged him to revive her son. He told her to collect a mustard seed from a home that had not been touched by death, and he would indeed bring her son back to life.

The woman walked through the village, and then through another village and another, and at every home she visited, the inhabitants told her they would be happy to give her a mustard seed, but they had experienced death. As the woman listened to their stories of loss and mourning, she came to realize that there was no such thing as a home that has not been touched by death.

I love this story, because it speaks to the universality of grief. None of us is immune, and none of us (nor our cats) are immortal. The silver lining of this knowledge is that we can make the most of the time we have—in our own lives, and in our relationships with others (of all species).

No matter where we live, what our occupation, passion, political or spiritual perspectives, no matter how much or how little money we have…every one of us will experience grief. And we can allow that understanding to open our hearts, to make us more compassionate towards ourselves and each other.

Photo by Oleg Danylenko on Unsplash
You are Not Broken (Pet Loss Version)

You are Not Broken (Pet Loss Version)

When a beloved cat dies, you may feel broken—I know I did, at times—but you are not broken. Who you really are is never broken.

We live in a culture that insists that if we’re not happy-happy-joy-joy around the clock, even when we’ve experienced a major loss, that something is wrong with us. Or worse, that it’s our fault we feel bad. Neither of these are true.

Emotions are part of life’s ebb and flow. Loss hurts, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling deep grief. The mistake is in believing that we ARE the grief, that something has gone wrong because we experience grief. But we grieve because we have loved deeply.

The trick (and it is a Jedi trick) is not to identify with the feelings. The feelings are passing through you; they are not who you are.

If you’re feeling happy, if you’re feeling despair, if anxiety arises, if you are dumbstruck with grief—you are not broken. If you have to take medication to function or to begin examining the feelings—you are not broken. If your body or brain functions differently than the majority of people—you are not broken.

The nature of being human is to forget our wholeness on a regular basis. The task of a lifetime is to remember it. Forgetting doesn’t mean you’re broken.

(Adapted from my post “There is Nothing Wrong with You” on Living the Mess.)



Photo by Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash

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