Resources for Loss

"On Joy and Sorrow" by Kahlil Gibran, contributed by Nyah Joudeh (2023)

On Joy and Sorrow

Kahlil Gibran
1883 –1931

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, need must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

We want love in its simplest form. It’s in our very nature to want things to be easy. We want to enjoy our homes, our jobs, our relationships with others, whatever it may be without any complications. In fact, we often run from even just the possibility of pain. However, when we grab hold of love, we must also accept that loss follows like a shadow. The two are inseparable and bring with them joy and sorrow in tandem. Kahlil Gibran puts to rest the question whether love is worth losing because he demonstrates that it is only through one or the other that we can feel either so vividly. More than our nature to want a simple life is our nature to feel deeply.
Dealing with loss is not easy, and as you begin to take unsteady steps and feel your grief in your own time, don’t be blinded by the pain that awaits you but rather look back at the love that gave you the joy that is oh so worth any sorrow.

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