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Meadowlark Hospice

Dawn's Notes

A Fable About a Donkey - January 2017
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW

Life has a way of dishing out “stuff”—sometimes not-so-nice stuff.  For instance, washing machines that spill water all over the floor, cars that will not start, flat tires, freezers that thaw instead of freeze, and computers that crash.  People get sick, and those we love die—the worst!

Now for the good news—things are just “things,” most of them replaceable with some work or money.  So as long as you have your health and those you love are safe and well, it is easier to shrug off some of the smaller irritations in life and move on.  But grieving after someone you love dies is more difficult.

Here is a little fable that I found entertaining.  The writer is unknown.  The story contains some truth about life when things are falling down around us.  It is a fable about a donkey that fell in a well.

“One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well.  The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.  Finally, the farmer decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway—it just wasn’t worth the trouble to save the donkey.

“So the farmer invited all his neighbors to come over and help him.  They all grabbed shovels and began to shovel dirt into the well.  At first, when the donkey realized what was happening, he cried horribly.  Then, to everyone’s amazement, the donkey quieted down.

“A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down into the well.  He was astonished at what he saw.  With every shovel of dirt that hit the donkey’s back, the donkey was doing something amazing.  He would shake the dirt off, stomp it down, and take a step up.

“As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, the donkey continued the same routine.  He would shake it off, stomp it down, and take a step up.  Pretty soon everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

MORAL: Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt.  The trick for getting out of the well is to shake it off, stomp it down, and take a step up.  Like the dirt, our troubles can be steppingstones.  We can get out of the deepest wells by not stopping, by never giving up!  Shake it off, stomp it down, and take a step up.

Some things that we experience in life are fairly easy to shrug off.  But dealing with the grief after the death of someone we love is a much bigger challenge.  Grief is a process, and there is no magic formula.  So much depends on the nature of the loss, the relationship with the one who died, and many other factors.

As we face a new year, we never know what we might face, personally or as a nation.  But hopefully the things that we have to face will be small irritations that we can sluff off.  Even if you find yourself in a deep pit like the donkey, try to not give up on life.

Life can be frightening, especially if it feels like more dirt is being thrown on you and depression is setting in.  So try to find steppingstones in your situation—stomp down that dirt!

Do everything you can to boost yourself out of your sadness.  Face the world with faith that things will turn out all right.  Believe that you can make it!   “Shake it off, stomp it down, and take a step up.”  Hold your head high and keep walking!  

Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
Meadowlark Hospice 709 Liberty Clay Center, Kansas
(785) 632-2225
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator