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  • Brian Hartzman

When Things Fall Apart...

One of the books that helped me get through and come to terms with the challenges that life through at me is Pema Chödrön's When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Paperback – June 7, 2016)



Her book (and books) are not specific to loss and grief, but rather they offer ways to tackle and understand the fear, suffering pain and anxiety (among other things) that we encounter through the course and challenges of our lives. While she was one of my first introductions to the Buddhist concepts of impermanence and presence, what really resonated with me was how well she spoke to the struggle was feeling, but especially the mechanisms I (poorly) employed to try to deal with these struggles.

My copy of this book is full of tags for quotes and thoughts that stood out and resonated with me. I could dedicate an entire blog to those quotes and how they spoke with me. I'll let you discover that for yourself, but here are a few morsels I hope will resonate with you and nudge you down the path towards finding peace.


“We think that by protecting ourselves from suffering we are being kind to ourselves.  The truth is, we only become more fearful, more hardened, and more alienated.  We experience ourselves as being separate from the whole.  This separateness becomes like a prison for us, a prison that restricts us to our personal hopes and fears and to caring only for the people nearest to us.  Curiously enough, if we primarily try to shield ourselves from discomfort, we suffer.  Yet when we don’t close off and we let our hearts break, we discover our kinship with all beings.”

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing.  We think the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved.  They come together and they fall apart.  Then they come together again and fall apart again.  It’s just like that.  The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen:  room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”