This story from the Buddha illustrates the universality of grief and suffering. It reminds us that we aren’t alone.
Krisha Gotami’s only child, a baby, became sick and died. Grief stricken, she held the tiny, lifeless body close to her heart and wandered weeping through the streets, asking everyone she met if they could help her. Someone told her that the only person who could help her was the Buddha, who was giving teachings outside the city.
Krisha Gotami went to the forest grove where the Buddha was preaching. Reverently, she presented the lifeless body to him and, with tears in her eyes, asked if he could bring her baby back to life.
After contemplating her request for some moments, the Buddha consented, but with a condition: she would need to bring him a single mustard seed from a household that had never been visited by death before he would grant her request.
Ecstatic, Krisha Gotami went to the city. She knocked on the door of every single house, rich or poor. People answered, “My grandfather died last year,” “My son died just last month,” “My husband died ten years ago,” and “My cousin was killed when he was a child.”
Krisha Gotami went through the entire city looking for that mustard seed, but she could not find a single household that had not been visited by death. Finally, she understood what the Buddha was trying to tell her. She brought her baby to the cremation grounds and gazed upon the tiny body for the last time. After the cremation, she joined the disciples of the Buddha. It is said that she became enlightened before her own death many years later.