Three years ago, a friend’s 21-year old son died of heart failure in his sleep. My friend immediately dove into a well of despair. Upon hearing of her son’s passing, I reached out with the “kindness bell,” even though we had been estranged for a couple of years. I had also recently dreamed of her son and somehow, intuitively, knew he wanted me to reach out to her. Her well of despair seemed to have no bottom, so I continued the outreach. By Christmas time she had asked me to attend a gathering of others who also were lost in pits of grief, each with a star adorned with the picture of their departed loved one to place on the tree. While there, someone told this story.
“An old horse had become blind and been put to pasture. In time, the blindness worsened to the point the horse could no longer find his way to the food bin. The owner could see the horse was lonely so he had an idea. He tied a bell to a younger horse and brought that horse into the pasture with the older one. Soon the two horses were inseparable. As the owner suspected, the bell of the young horse alerted his friend when dinner had arrived. In the end, the old horse found his way back to “food” and out of his loneliness.”
Delivering Kindness Bells to those in Need
If you’re in despair and saddled with depression after death of a loved one, others will often be there with their own bells of kindness. Like the older horse, my friend also found her way through despair, grief and loneliness, thanks to many people who reached out with their own kindness bell. Sometimes that bell rang lightly, sometimes loudly.
On the anniversary of her son’s death, my husband gave her an oak seedling to plant that he’d been growing alongside others. Then friends, family and neighbors gathered to help mark that day around the sprouting tree. Not a day passes where she does not think of her son, but her emotions have moved beyond hopelessness and fright to a place where memories bring comfort.
Who Rings Kindness Bells in Your Life?
Pause a moment. Then be grateful for those who ring the kindness bell when you need it most. I have many bells that ring in my heart, such as:
- The mindfulness bell – it rings clear and soft
- A personal kindness bell – I ring this one for my self so I can keep it sharply ringing for others
- The gratitude bell – evokes on a daily basis to increase my well of joy