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Be not grieved at the death of that infant child, for it is placed in trust for thee before thy Lord in His great Kingdom. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha, Volume 1, p. 194.
Can you imagine anything harder than losing a child?
Back in 2013, I read about a Pennsylvania couple who moved up their marriage date so their two year old son, Logan, dying of leukemia, could participate. Logan died not long after serving as Best Man at the wedding.
The death of a child must be the worst pain a parent can ever suffer. How they endure the loss differs, of course, but what I have witnessed amongst friends and acquaintances demonstrates that those who believe in life after death often cope better than those who don’t.
That’s probably why Reverend Jan Zotter, the officiating minister at little Logan’s funeral, said “When a child dies, everyone asks why. But such questions are mysteries of God that we can’t fathom.” The article went on to say that the Reverend “assured the boy’s relatives and friends that they will one day understand the reason, when they are reunited with him.”
Years ago I met Heather Niderost of Nova Scotia, whose 11 year old son died after being hit by a car while riding his bicycle. She had a very difficult time accepting the loss, until her grief moved her to write The Light World, a book to help children understand the cycle of life. The Light World takes the reader from birth into this physical realm—which is death to the womb world—then death from this plane of existence to birth into the spiritual world. Niderost insists that she was merely the instrument through which her son wrote the book. It not only brought her acceptance of his passing and the peace which comes from that acceptance, but has proven an invaluable tool for children who’ve lost a friend, sibling or parent, and eased the worry for youngsters facing their own early death due to some incurable illness.
This assurance of the continuance of the soul after it departs the body has brought comfort to many parents—and to many siblings, friends and other children, too. If you have children, what have you told them about the next world?
The Baha’i teachings clearly say that the death of a child is unbearable, heart-rending and devastating. But they also console those who have lost children they love. Abdu’l-Baha wrote to a woman whose son had died:
From the death of that beloved youth due to his separation from you the utmost sorrow and grief has been occasioned, for he flew away in the flower of his age and the bloom of his youth, to the heavenly nest.
But as he has been freed from this sorrow-stricken shelter and has turned his face toward the everlasting nest of the Kingdom and has been delivered from a dark and narrow world and has hastened to the sanctified realm of Light, therein lies the consolation of our hearts.
The inscrutable divine wisdom underlies such heart-rending occurrences. It is as if a kind gardener transfers a fresh and tender shrub from a narrow place to a vast region. This transference is not the cause of the withering, the waning or the destruction of that shrub, nay rather it makes it grow and thrive, acquire freshness and delicacy and attain verdure and fruition. This hidden secret is well-known to the gardener, while those souls who are unaware of this bounty suppose that the gardener in his anger and wrath has uprooted the shrub. But to those who are aware this concealed fact is manifest and this predestined decree considered a favor. – Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 199.
Sharing these words of wisdom with people who have lost a child, or been close to a child who has died, doesn’t dissolve their grief, but it does make it easier for them to come to terms with their loss.