This was not a typical get-back-in-touch letter from a business associate who moved out of town some years ago. Instead, a mother wrote about the quiet death of her five-week-old daughter in the child's car seat. It happened on the way to the home of baby's grandparents, where the extended family was anticipating the arrival.
What should have been a joyous visit turned to stunned anguish.
Two and a half years later, the woman was just coming to terms with her tragic loss, which has a name: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). There are all manner of statistics about SIDS, which annually in the United States claims roughly 7,000 babies between one month and one year old. There are several possible scientific theories about the causes of this still unexplained death of seemingly healthy infants.
Numbers and hypotheses, however, do little to assuage the agony of this most profound of losses. No parent should have to bury a child. It is an affront to the natural order of life. It is unjust and cruel. It hurts far worse than the cut of a knife or the impact of a bullet.
After the shock wears off, the nightmare sets in: painful feelings of rage, guilt, blame, recrimination, despair. Although so-called experts reassure the parents and other family members that they did nothing to cause this death, there is always that nagging doubt, always that what-if running in the back of the mind, always that yearning for a good-bye that never was said.
In the midst of such soul-troubling turmoil, words may seem useless or pointless. Even so, it might help, perhaps, to consider this tragedy from a spiritual perspective.
Our foremost consideration: death is never the end. The soul or spirit cannot die, and we need not take this assertion on faith alone. Having demonstrated that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, science backs up this assertion. The soul consists of energy--the energy of our thoughts, our feelings, our beliefs, our emotions. Since energy is indestructible, the spirit does not die even at the demise of the physical body.
All of us, then, are undying soul-energies on a spiritual path that involves taking on numerous physical bodies for multiple interludes on earth. Endowed with free will, we choose our parents and lifetimes, and we do not always choose wisely. Sometimes we have second thoughts about the particular situation in which we find ourselves. We may
decide to withdraw our soul-energy and seek a different path. What was an apparently healthy baby dies as a result.
The death brings profound loss and anguish--not just to the parents or other family members, but also to the spirit that was the embodied child. And there is, rightly, a time and space for this grieving, and it is different for each being. We cannot "just get over it" until we are ready to do so, and we may need weeks, months, years, or even several lifetimes.
It is possible, however, for grieving parties to attain a measure of resolution once they are prepared to move on. The mother above wrote about attending a mind-body spirit retreat and, in a healing meditation, brought her daughter back into her heart. Doing so helped her move out of the denial stage of her grief and toward the resolution she so desperately needs.
Heart-centered mediation is an excellent tool for assuaging the grief from loss, whether of a child or any other loved one. This type of meditation can help both those still in body and those no longer on earth by providing a space and place to meet and converse in spirit.
A future column will outline the simple steps involved in a heart-centered meditation.