June 18, 2023 will mark 40 years since 10 Baha’i women were hanged in Shiraz. Their only ‘crime’ was their refusal to renounce their beliefs in a faith that promotes the principles of gender equality, unity, justice, and truthfulness. This collection highlights Baha’i Blog content relating to the ongoing persecution of Baha’is in Iran.
There are many friends and family members I know of who have suffered either a miscarriage or stillbirth, oftentimes with multiple pregnancies. I recently felt compelled to write an article addressing the matter and sharing some insights from the Baha’i Writings in the hopes that perhaps it might provide some comfort or solace to a family suffering this rarely-discussed but heartbreaking loss.
Miscarriages and stillbirths, especially when they occur in multiple pregnancies, are traumatic for the family involved. The family is not mourning merely the passing of a foetus, but in reality is grieving the loss of a child. In the Baha’i Faith the soul is recognized as being present from the time of conception, and therefore the soul of a foetus will continue, beyond death, to progress towards God. Abdu’l-Baha, who lost five of His nine children in their infancy, counseled a grieving mother whose child had recently passed away with the following words:
O thou beloved maidservant of God, although the loss of a son is indeed heart-breaking and beyond the limits of human endurance, yet one who knoweth and understandeth is assured that the son hath not been lost but, rather, hath stepped from this world into another, and she will find him in the divine realm. That reunion shall be for eternity, while in this world separation is inevitable and bringeth with it a burning grief…
That beloved child addresseth thee from the hidden world: ‘O thou kind Mother, thank divine Providence that I have been freed from a small and gloomy cage and, like the birds of the meadows, have soared to the divine world — a world which is spacious, illumined, and ever gay and jubilant. Therefore, lament not, O Mother, and be not grieved; I am not of the lost, nor have I been obliterated and destroyed. I have shaken off the mortal form and have raised my banner in this spiritual world. Following this separation is everlasting companionship. Thou shalt find me in the heaven of the Lord, immersed in an ocean of light.’ 1
Oftentimes when such tragedies occur parents ask “why me?” or “what did I do wrong?” and may have strong feelings of inadequacy, jealousy and guilt. Health practitioners very rarely know the cause of a miscarriage or stillbirth. Regardless of the cause, it is important to understand that “grief and sorrow do not come to us by chance,” and that there is Divine purpose in all our sorrows. Abdu’l-Baha spoke the following words to an aggrieved mother, assuring her to trust in God that her child will continue to thrive in the spiritual realms:
… there is a Garden of God. Human beings are trees growing therein. The Gardener is Our Father. When He sees a little tree in a place too small for her development, He prepares a suitable and more beautiful place, where she may grow and bear fruit. Then He transplants that little tree. The other trees marvel, saying: ‘This is a lovely little tree. For what reason does the Gardener uproot it?’ The Divine Gardener, alone, knows the reason.
You are weeping … but if you could see the beauty of the place where she is, you would no longer be sad. Your child is now free, and, like a bird, is chanting divine joyous melodies. If you could see that sacred Garden, you would not be content to remain here on earth. Yet this is where your duty now lies. 2
Parents may find comfort in the knowledge that the trauma, pain and suffering they have experienced, regardless of when that child passed, has still born them a spiritual child, and seek to be gracious that there is a blessed spiritual child awaiting a reunion with them in the next world.
Abdu’l-Baha had a dear little son called Husayn, who became ill and died when he was five years old. Some Arabs living in the city of Akka came to say how sorry they were. Abdu’l-Baha smiled at them and asked: “Do you think that God is generous?” “Yes, indeed,” said the men. “He has given us everything.” “Do you think,” said the Master, “that a generous man would give something and then take it away again?” “Of course not!” said the men in surprise. “Well,” replied the Master, “God was generous and gave me a little son. He did not take him away again – He is just keeping him for me.” 3
Parents and loved ones will undoubtedly grieve the loss of the child in their own way. Abdu’l-Baha acknowledges that the passing of a young child can be an exceptionally difficult test and an irreparable loss for any parent, but encourages us “to bear it with becoming patience” as our prolonged grief can affect the child’s soul.
Praise be unto God that thou hast faith, art turning thy face toward the everlasting Kingdom and believest in the existence of a heavenly world. Therefore be thou not disconsolate, do not languish, do not sigh, neither wail nor weep; for agitation and mourning deeply affect his soul in the divine realm. 4
Furthermore, many who have experienced such a loss have reported that the grieving process was greatly reduced immediately after the saying of prayers, the giving of charity and in performing services in honor of the deceased child. These parents felt that such acts had turned something heartbreaking and tragic into something joyful and positive, as it allowed them to actively aid and assist their child’s spiritual development, and in a way continue to parent that child.
The progress of man’s spirit in the divine world, after the severance of its connection with the body of dust, is through the bounty and grace of the Lord alone, or through the intercession and the sincere prayers of other human souls, or through the charities and important good works which are performed in its name. 5
In writing this post I was surprised to find that though miscarriages and stillbirths are common, many remain silent in their grief. I hope this post will allow those suffering in silence to reach out to each other and their loved ones. My personal view is that the greater the number of people who know about these blessed children, the greater the number of people who may offer prayers for the progress of their souls.
Kamelia is a Baha'i and a mother of three (plus an angel). She studied Law, Accounting and Children's Services, but spends most of her days now trying to navigate her way through motherhood. She is particularly interested in early childhood education and Baha'i scholarship.
Thank you for putting this together for us all. I have not experienced this…but know of dear people who have. These little souls are the purest of angels, surely……………….
In His Love,
Karin Ferguson. (June 6, 2017 at 7:43 PM)
Thank you so much for this. This is very comforting and mind-opening, not just for those who lost their child but also for those who lost their loved ones. Indeed, understanding, acceptance and most of all, Faith, are what we need to overcome the loss of a loved one.
Teresa Rocales (July 7, 2017 at 2:31 AM)
Beautiful… my husband and I went through a traumatic experience going through a miscarriage towards the end of the pregnancy, lossing our triplet babies. Yes ..they’re not of lost. He is just keeping them for me 🙂
shamini (July 7, 2017 at 12:58 PM)
Your smiley emoji put a smile on my face despite the tears from hearing your story. I’m a big believer in trying to live a life to make those who have passed proud of us. Your spiritual babies will surely be proud of your courage and Faith. I will be keeping you all in my prayers.
Kamelia (July 7, 2017 at 12:21 AM)
Thank you for your kind words Karin.
Kamelia (July 7, 2017 at 12:53 AM)
Thank you for your comment Teresa. I agree that this understanding, acceptance and Faith, will comfort us well beyond the subject heading of this post.
Kamelia (July 7, 2017 at 1:08 AM)
Very good collection of reflections and passages. My husband and I recently lost our baby girl. It was a 6w4d pregnancy. We knew her sex since this was an invitro. We saw her heartbeat in the morning and her body was gone in the evening. It’s been only 5 days since it happened so it’s still hard to understand and accept what God explains about this kind of loss. On the other hand, I have a very strong connection with my daughter and I have a message from her that she will come back. I don’t know how’s that possible but I can feel her soul waiting to reunite.
I am sorry to create a conflict of belief if that’s the case.
Elizabeth (September 9, 2017 at 1:55 AM)
I’m sorry to hear of your loss. I actually wrote this blog post the night I found out I’d miscarried early in my second trimester. We had also found out early on that we were going to have a boy, and had gone ahead and already picked a name for our son.
I often give to the Fund and various charities in his name, and I wrote this blog post in his honor.
In my own personal experience I found that through these various acts I was more accepting of the situation, as like you I felt incredibly connected to my child and like the post says I felt I was still parenting him.
However I must admit that months later when it came to his expected due date, it was quite difficult and it was then more than ever I relied on the support of my husband and prayers.
I realized that such a loss is not something you get over quickly, that you can just accept and move on, its the sort of loss that will stay with you forever. But I’ve learnt not to see it as a loss, your child is not “lost,” you know exactly where they are. Like you I also feel very strongly that I will see them again, and that they are actively growing and developing in the next world and living a full life.
You and all your family will be in my prayers.
Kamelia (September 9, 2017 at 6:52 AM)
Thank you for this post. I needed this today.
Michelle Palo (March 3, 2019 at 1:35 PM)
We’re deeply humbled and grateful that our article brought you some comfort. My heart is with you.
Sonjel Vreeland (March 3, 2019 at 11:08 PM)
I wonder if there are souls who nurture these little ones in the next world. I imagine that some type of loving care would be useful because the babies would not have developed a sense of identity- this takes time for babies even in this world. I’m not sure. Perhaps I am imposing my limited perception on that realm of light.
I can imagine my wife giving care to children in the next world as she has done to other people’s babies in this one, at the daycare where she works. We weren’t able have our own children as we married later in life.
My mother still grieves the premature loss of her twin babies 65 years ago. NICUs did not exist in those days. I talk to her about the spiritual world but she forgets it later. I hope she does have a joyous reunion with my brother and sister when she dies.
John Higgins (August 8, 2019 at 11:40 PM)
Thank you for this. Me and my heart needed this so much.
Rachel (July 7, 2021 at 1:59 AM)
Thank you for sharing your comment. We hope the article brought you some comfort and peace.
Sonjel Vreeland (July 7, 2021 at 11:25 AM)
Thank you so much for finding the words my soul needed. Almost 4 months ago we lost a baby we did not know was coming. Very painful and traumatic, even if we knew that the baby was actually born, just not here. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words really eased our souls. Thank so much again.
Cintia (November 11, 2022 at 11:09 AM)
I’m so very sorry to hear of your loss, Cintia.
Sonjel Vreeland (November 11, 2022 at 3:28 AM)