Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life’s biggest challenges. After a period of grief – which is different for everyone – the task is to recover from helplessness, sorrow, anger and overwhelming sadness and become stronger. The physical body provides an analogy to this uplifting principle, for a healed broken bone is stronger than a bone that wasn’t broken.
The emphasis here is on spiritual healing. It is often useful to seek out a professional grief counselor supported by conversation with a close, empathetic friend or relative. Joining new organizations such as a support group is helpful or an activity that intrigues you. Many people find it comforting to keep a journal tracking their progress through the grief process.
One way to see how grief can turn into something good is encapsulated by the age-old story about the horse in China. Having heard this story many years ago at a national conference, the life lessons still resonate. A version on Youtube as retold by Alan Watts, English writer, speaker, philosopher and entertainer reminded me of its lifelong value.
A farmer and his son had a beloved horse who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild horses back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the horses and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The neighbors cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, because he had a broken leg. The neighbors shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
It is impossible to tell whether anything that happens is good or bad.
You never know what the consequences of a loss, misfortune or good fortune will be, as only time will tell the whole story. Things may look devastating or great, but over time it may not become what you had imagined it to be. Similarly, you may feel bad about something and some day it could be the catalyst for good. Everything changes.
And so, did the story of a Chinese farmer do anything for you?
Maybe so, maybe not. You’ll see.