Joy and sorrow are inseparable

“I know you are always in my heart, but I don’t miss you right now, because you are right here.”

This is what Kayman, my daughter says to me every night we share after story time before snuggle time.
For as long as she can remember, for every night we’ve been together, there is also one night we’ve been apart.

My heart sometimes overflow when we are together.
It also fills with sorrow sometimes when we are apart.

Her father and I separated when she was 14 months old.
My sweetie is my inspiration behind this week’s blog post about duality.

She reminds me to that while our experiences may be different,
It is also the same.

Below are two of my favorite pieces about the duality of joy and sorrow, and how they are inseparable.  I am in constant reminder how true this for me. This is a reminder for me to embrace ALL of my emotions.


The first is one of my favorite Kahlil Gibran poems on joy and sorrow, the other a fable about the The magical mustard seed. Both serve as a guidepost for those times when we feel really alone, that we are all one, especially the magical mustard seed one.  

The Magical Mustard Seed


There is an old tale about a woman whose only son died. In her grief, she went to the holy man and asked, “What prayers, what medicine do you have to bring my son back to life?”

Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her, “Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow. We will use it to drive the sorrow out of your life.” The woman went off at once in search of that magical mustard seed.

She came first to a splendid mansion, knocked at the door, and said, “I am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this such a place? It is very important to me.”

They told her, “You’ve certainly come to the wrong place,” and began to describe all the tragic things that recently had befallen them.

The woman said to herself, “Who is better able to help these poor, unfortunate people than I, who have had misfortune of my my own?”

She stayed to comfort them, then went on in search of a home that had never known sorrow. Through the city, she wandered, knocking on every door, pleading for a grain of mustard seed if death had not entered there. She found herself listening to countless stories of sadness, the death of wives and husbands, of parents and children, of old age and sickness. In every house the story was different but the grief was the same, like her own grief. So she learned compassion.

The woman became so involved in helping others cope with their sorrows that she eventually let go of her own. She would later come to understand that it was the quest to find the magical mustard seed that drove away her suffering.

Joy and Sorrow  by Kahlil Gibran

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 yourtears.

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 yourspirit,
the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart
and you shall find it is only thatwhich 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, needs mustyour joy
or your sorrow rise or fall.

Have you experienced something in your life that is bitter and sweet? Joyful yet sad?

I would love to hear your experience below.



7 thoughts on “Joy and sorrow are inseparable”

  1. yes, i have experienced this feeling of sorrow and joy, when I speak with loved ones of mine from the “other side,” or to deceased loved ones of my clients… and the love is pouring so strongly through our communications, and the words so touching that in the depths of your heart you know you are truly connecting with your loved one. It is beautiful, yet sad at the same time because we always miss those who have left the physical. It is helpful to know and receive ‘signs’ they are still with us and will always be with us… joyful and sorrowful at the same time.

    Funny you mention the ‘mustard seed’ today. I was just admiring a mustard seed bracelet about an hour ago… and it was about the same time that I just found out that my dear, sweet, amazing Uncle just made his transition today… feeling the sorrow at the moment, but remember many joyful moments with them.

    Life is eternal <3

    • so much loving to the work you do in communicating with loved ones who’ve crossed over. I am always reminded with these 2 examples that we are all one. Sending light ahead to your uncle for a grace filled next journey. <3

  2. My niece was quite sad at the thought of me going back to Spain and kept saying to me that she would miss me. We had a few conversations about this and I said that we would keep in touch on Skype and we could see and talk to each other there. The next day her energy had shifted and she said to me, “I’m not going to miss you anymore. We have Skype!”

    We have the ability to shift our emotions quite rapidly as my niece showed me. I’ve done the same thing with my grief over my brother’s death. Choosing again and again to move into the joy of having him in my life and the wonderful things that have come from his death.

    It was 11 years since he died on May 5. I said then that I would do something special with my life in May as a way to honor and respect him. This year I sent off the first 3 chapters of a novel to the publishers, officially graduated from my M.S. in Applied Ecopsychology (which I started 3 years ago as tribute to him), had my best ever week at work and now I leave for Sedona (from Spain) to watch the sunrise over Bell Rock.

    I’ve created a life that is so connected to my brother and he’s present in everything I do. I don’t miss him because he’s here in a different way. I no longer feel grief over his death, only overwhelming gratitude.

    While Joy and Sorrow are intertwined, if we acknowledge the sorrow and then consciously shift into the joy we can anchor ourselves so strongly there that sorrow becomes nothing more than a brief flash. At least that’s what’s happened to me.

    I love Kahil Gibran’s words on Joy and Sorrow and actually read them at my brother’s funeral.

    • Isn’t amazing how our little ones is SO present to what is NOW vs. the missing. You are an inspiration for me, your path of embracing life, honoring your heart’s desire. Love to you and thank you for stopping by~ <3

  3. This is so moving Claire.

    Thank you for sharing both pieces. In the past few months I’ve been facing my own long held grief….something I thought had to be packed away, but I’m finding my own healing in my own version of a search for the mustard seed 🙂


  4. What a beautiful post Claire – the parable of the mustard seed resonated so strongly with me as it exemplifies how we can transform our pain into love by the simple act of service.

    Thank you for sharing these!


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