Transforming the Pain of Loss into Love

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“Oh, Sugar, I miss you. I want to see you right now! I can dream of you. But that’s still not enough. Oh yes, it’s pretty rough without you. I’m sailing up to the stars, catching some sparkles for you. Oh, Sugar, how I miss you. Your shiny, velvety coat and flaxen mane and tail. Oh, Sugar, I miss you! Yes, I do.”

I wrote this note to my pony when I was eight years old. School was a distraction; my horse was my life. Not much has changed, but Sugar Maple has moved on to another plane. When I found this note the other day, it hit me in the depths of my heart. Sugar was my pony soul mate. He taught me patience, perseverance, empathy, and compassion. He taught me love. He saved me. You never get over a loss like that. It’s been over a year and a half since I said goodbye for good to Sugar, and the pain is still there.

Even in his death, Sugar taught me. I thought I would never love another horse again. I didn’t think I could. And yet, Snowy, Sugar’s grandson, has worked his way into my heart and makes me smile every day. Sugar has shown me that loss can lead to healing if you allow it; that grief can open the door to more love.

Snowy always knows how to make me laugh.


When I discovered the note, a great sadness settled into me, but right next to it was joy. I never knew sadness and joy could exist simultaneously, but in my heart they did. I was sad for my loss, sad that Sugar is no longer here; but I was also joyful that I was lucky enough to have such a special love in my life. My relationship with Sugar cannot be summed up in words. Our bond surpassed language.

Snowy has been a vital part of my healing process. He makes me laugh even on my worst days. His facial expressions at times look just like Sugar’s, and sometimes I could swear I see Sugar twinkling in his eyes. Still, Snowy is a very different horse than Sugar was and Snowy has taught me new lessons. Snowy lightened me up and taught me not to take myself or life too seriously. He humbled me and showed me how to laugh at myself. He taught me when to be bold and when to half halt.

Horses are mystical, emotional creatures, but they still have four feet on the ground. They can teach us how to soar while staying grounded. They can teach us how to be the best versions of ourselves. They can teach us how to love. The world is going through a turbulent time, and now more than ever we need to remember that love can accomplish more than hate. Compassion will allow for healing and guide us forward into a future with less violence, less racism, less prejudice, and less fear. The horse can show us the way if we simply open our hearts to learning from their wisdom.

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