Facing Suffering: How To Handle a Great Personal Loss

Today I have come across a book entitled “The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living” by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler. The moment I took a hold of it and after scanning the table of contents, I went straight to reading Chapter 8: Facing Suffering.

My sister died over a week ago due to Pancreatic Cancer. It was about a half a year battle for her since she was diagnosed with a tumour sometime August of last year. Her pain and discomfort lasted for quite a period. Last month or a week before Christmas was the hardest and most painful for her, her kids and partner, as well as our family. Seeing a dear family member suffering is never easy. Much more losing her. Yesterday was her burial but I was not there.

Now, you know the reason why I was magnetised to Chapter 8 of the book.

Nevertheless, it is the thought that some of you out there might be needing much comfort than I do that I want to share some excerpts from the book:

In the time of the Buddha, a woman named Kisagotami suffered the death of her only child. Unable to accept it, she ran from person to person, seeking a medicine to restore her child to life. The Buddha was said to have such a medicine.

Kisagotami went to the Buddha, paid homage, and asked, “Can you make a medicine that will restore my child?”

“I know of such a medicine,” the Buddha replied. “But in order to make it, I must have certain ingredients.”

Relieved, the woman asked, “What ingredients do you require?” “Bring me a handful of mustard seed”, said the Buddha.

The woman promised to procure it for him, but as she was leaving, he added, “I require the mustard seed be taken from a household where no child, spouse, parent or servant has died.”

The woman agreed and began going from house to house in search of the mustard seed. At each house, the people agreed to give her the seed, but when she asked them if anyone had died in that household, she could find no home where death had not visited – in one house a daughter, in another a servant, in others a husband or parent had died. Kisagotami was not able to find a home free from the suffering of death. Seeing she was not alone in her grief, the mother lets go of her child’s lifeless body and returned to the Buddha, who said with great compassion, “You thought that you alone had lost a son; the law of death is that among all living creatures there is no permanence.

I don’t know if the lines above is any of consolation, but it does help me get a perspective of my emotional grief at the moment. In my other blog posts here, like – Wisdom on Life: This Too Shall Pass and What Is The Purpose of Life? I have repeatedly shared how truly convinced I am that Death is certain. You would know that it should have been easier for me to accept the loss of my beloved sister. However, I have never imagined how painful it is actually going through it. As they say, anything is always easier said than done.

It is a Right to be Sad

Therefore, Yes, I do acknowledge that I am not okay at the moment. I feel enormously sad. I will miss my sister. So much so that she is my regular chat mate. Growing up together she inspired me to dream big dreams. To reach for the moon or catch the stars. She has been a great cheerleader of dreams, even putting her own aside. I will remember her as the kindest, sweetest and most creative.

Acceptance and Faith

Losing her leaves a mark. But I will accept what my faith tells me that she is in a better place right now – painless and worry-free. My pain, my family’s, her kid’s and partner’s are living proof that what we all feel are normal. Human as we are, vulnerability is our strength.

Thus, as Chapter 8 of this book The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living says, “…as long as we view suffering as an unnatural state, an abnormal condition that we fear, avoid and reject, we will never uproot the causes of suffering nor be able to live a happier life.

Move On With a Reason

Despite the sadness, I will continue to stay inspired inspiring others just as she has inspired me. Life for us should go on with fond memories of her so she will also be happy seeing us all moving forward slowly.

“The essence of life is to never stop living with a purpose. The tragedy of life is to be alive but not knowing why.”


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Hi There! Thanks for reading and welcome to my blog. I am Lyn, a mom to two adorable daughters, currently residing in Adelaide, South Australia. I have lived two countries, visited 3 continents and can't wait to travel more. Photography, arts, kids fun, family travels and all things inspirational delight me. I am not born affluent but I can attest that dreams do come true with perspiration and inspiration. Lucky enough to be given a second life, I don't want to waste my time not being able to create beautiful moments. Because what we do with our time is what we do with our lives. I hope I can inspire you in your life's journey.

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