There is a story I learned from Charm City Yoga’s meditation teacher, Steve Haddad; it goes like this:
Once there was a woman whose beautiful young son died suddenly. She was distraught and felt like dying herself. She went to the Buddha and asked the Blessed one to bring the boy back to life.
The Buddha, seeing the woman’s inconsolable grief wanted to help in whatever way he could.
“My dear woman,” he said, “I will bring your son back to life but first you must complete a single task.”
“Anything!” she replied.
“ You must go to the village and find someone who has not had lost a loved one to death. When you find that person ask them for a single grain of rice, bring the grain back to me and I will return your son to you.”
The woman thanked the Buddha and left to knock on doors.
The first door was answered by young girl and the woman told the occupant her story. “Have you had death or loss,” she asked? “Can you give me the grain of rice?”
The girl was moved by the woman’s story and wanted to help but she could not. She explained to the woman that last year her beloved mother had passed away. She, her father, and her brother felt much grief and loss.
The woman thanked her for her time and went to the next door.
A gentleman answered and the woman told her story. "Unfortunately," the man replied, "I cannot help you. My beloved wife passed away this winter. I felt so much pain and loss; in fact on some days, I still cry.
The woman knocked on door after door. She knocked not only in her own village, but the next village and the next.
After three days the woman realized she was not alone her grief. She saw that everyone has suffered the loss of someone they love.
She took comfort in this understanding and though she missed her son very much; she knew she was not alone. She returned to the Buddha and they sat in meditation. The woman was able to live with her loss and the story continues. The woman reaches enlightenment and spends the rest of her life helping others heal from grief and the devastation of death.