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There is no question that the burden of grief on a sorrowing heart, is heavier than minds can conceive, or words can tell.

There is no question but that the burden of grief on his sorrowing heart, because of this terrible ordeal, this great calamity, is heavier than minds can conceive, or words can tell. (Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 76-77)

The loss of a child is indeed heart-breaking and beyond the limits of human endurance, yet we’re assured that our child has not been lost.  He’s just stepped from this world into the next, and we will find them when we get there:

O thou beloved maid-servant 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, hast 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. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 201)

Grief and sorrow do not come to us by chance, they are sent to us by the Divine Mercy for our own perfecting:

Grief and sorrow do not come to us by chance, they are sent to us by the Divine Mercy for our own perfecting.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 50)

They cause us to remember our Father in Heaven:

When grief and sorrow come, then will a man remember his Father Who is in Heaven, Who is able to deliver him from his humiliations. (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 96)

And to obtain a harvest of spiritual virtues:

The more a man is chastened, the greater is the harvest of spiritual virtues shown forth by him.  (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 96)

When we’re happy we may forget God, but when grief and sorrow come, we remember:

While a man is happy he may forget his God; but when grief comes and sorrows overwhelms him, then will he remember his Father who is in Heaven, and who is able to deliver him from his humiliations.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 50-51)

Separation belongs only to this world – our loved ones will be with us in the Kingdom of God and we will again look upon their smiling faces, illumined brows and handsome spirits. We will then be happy, comforted and thank God for His favor upon us:

O thou who art tested with a great calamity! Be not grieved nor troubled because of the loss which hath befallen thee—a loss which caused the tears to flow, sighs to be produced, sorrow to exist and hearts to burn in great agony; but know, this hath reference only to the physical body, and if thou considerest this matter with a discerning and intelligent eye, thou wilt find that it hath no power whatsoever, for separation belongeth to the characteristics of the body. But concerning the spirit, know that thy pure son shall be with thee in the Kingdom of God and thou shalt witness his smiling face, illumined brow, handsome spirit and real happiness. Accordingly, thou wilt then be comforted and thank God for His favor upon thee.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 85-86)

Not everyone has the bounty of being able to grieve the loss of their slaughtered children:

How many mothers have not dared, through fear and dread, to mourn over their slaughtered children!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, A Traveller’s Narrative, p. 66)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá grieves for us so we don’t have to:

O my well-beloved, deeply spiritual sister! Day and night thou livest in my memory. Whenever I remember thee my heart swelleth with sadness and my regret groweth more intense. Grieve not, for I am thy true, thy unfailing comforter.   (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 4)

Effects of Grief on the Soul of the Departed

There’s no need for wailing and weeping, because mourning deeply affects his soul:

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.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 201)

While in this world separation is inevitable and bringeth with it a burning grief. 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.  When he findeth that thou art happy he becometh more cheerful, but when he perceiveth that thou art disconsolate, this provoketh anguish in his heart.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Fire and Light, p. 9)

These days will pass away and in the Abhá Kingdom we’ll forget all our earthly cares and will find each one of our losses amply compensated:

Let neither despondency nor despair becloud the serenity of thy life or restrain thy freedom. These days shall pass away. We will, please God, in the Abhá Kingdom and beneath the sheltering shadow of the Blessed Beauty, forget all these our earthly cares and will find each one of these base calumnies amply compensated by His expressions of praise and favour.   (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 4)

Overcoming Grief

It’s important to know that our loved one hasn’t truly died but gone to a better place, which can be a source of comfort and gratitude to us.

Therefore think not that he hath perished. Indeed he will endure in the heavenly kingdom as long as God Himself endureth. And this calleth for gratitude, not grieving. When he findeth that thou art happy he becometh more cheerful, but when he perceiveth that thou art disconsolate, this provoketh anguish in his heart.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Fire and Light, p. 9)

Bahá’u’lláh doesn’t want us to grieve over our losses – He tells us that if we scan the pages of the Book of Life, we would discover that which would dissipate our sorrows and dissolve our anguish:

Let not thine heart grieve over what hath befallen thee. Wert thou to scan the pages of the Book of Life, thou wouldst, most certainly, discover that which would dissipate thy sorrows and dissolve thine anguish.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 132)

Grief and sorrow cause the greatest misery, so ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reminds us to not give in to it:

Yield not to grief and sorrow; they cause the greatest misery.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 13)

In one of the most popular prayers for spiritual growth He asks to affirm our intention:

I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 150)

The best way to let go of all sorrow and anxiety, regret and tribulation, is to set our hearts on the tender mercies of the Ancient Beauty until we become filled with abiding joy and intense gladness:

From the beginning of time sorrow and anxiety, regret and tribulation, have always been the lot of every loyal servant of God. Ponder this in thine heart and consider how very true it is. Wherefore, set thine heart on the tender mercies of the Ancient Beauty and be thou filled with abiding joy and intense gladness.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 4)

Reading the Tablet of Ahmad will dispel our sadness, solve our difficulties and remove our afflictions:

Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet with absolute sincerity, God will dispel his sadness, solve his difficulties and remove his afflictions.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablet of Ahmad, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 211)

Faith heightens our capacity to respond to sorrow:

Faith is an endowment from the Higher Kingdom and changes all beliefs into an aliveness in the spirit. The quickening of the soul renews the atoms of the body to the very marrow of the bone … The capacity for response to sorrows … has been heightened greatly.  (Helen Reed Bishop, Introduction to the 1950 edition of the Kitáb-i-Iqan, p. vi.)

Prayer, contentment and gratitude help too:

Grieve not at the divine trials. Be not troubled because of hardships and ordeals; turn unto God, bowing in humbleness and praying to Him, while bearing every ordeal, contented under all conditions and thankful in every difficulty. Verily thy Lord loveth His maidservants who are patient, believing and firm. He draws them nigh unto Him through these ordeals and trials.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 50)

Sometimes, though, just like the Guardian, we need to wrap ourselves in a blanket, pray and supplicate, and give ourselves time for healing:

The lives of the Founders of our Faith clearly show that to be fundamentally assured does not mean that we live without anxieties, nor does being happy mean that there are not periods of deep grief when, like the Guardian, we wrap ourselves in a blanket, pray and supplicate, and give ourselves time for healing in preparation for the next great effort.  (Shoghi Effendi, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 117)

Conversing with Those in the Next World

Someone asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá how it was that in prayer and meditation the heart often turns with instinctive appeal to some friend who has passed into the next life. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered:

It is a law of God’s creation that the weak should lean upon the strong. Those to whom you turn may be the mediators of God’s power to you, even as when on earth. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 96)

We can pray for them and help others solve problems when they ask for help:

In prayer there is a mingling of station, a mingling of condition. Pray for them as they pray for you! When you do not know it, and are in a receptive attitude, they are able to make suggestions to you, if you are in difficulty. This sometimes happens in sleep but there is no phenomenal intercourse! That which seems like phenomenal intercourse has another explanation.” The questioner exclaimed; “But I have heard a voice!” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “Yes, that is possible; we hear voices clearly in dreams. It is not with the physical ear that you heard; the spirit of those that have passed on are freed from sense-life, and do not use physical means. It is not possible to put these great matters into human words; the language of man is the language of children, and man’s explanation often leads astray.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 96)

Someone once asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá whether or not we can converse with those who have gone on to the next world.  He replied:

A conversation can be held, but not as our conversation. There is no doubt that the forces of the higher worlds interplay with the forces of this plane. The heart of man is open to inspiration; this is spiritual communication. As in a dream one talks with a friend while the mouth is silent, so is it in the conversation of the spirit.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 178)

The conversations we’ll have our purely spiritual and dependent on the disinterested and selfless love of the two souls for each other:

The possibility of securing union with his beloved in the next world is one which the Bahá’í Teachings are quite clear about. According to Bahá’u’lláh the soul retains its individuality and consciousness after death, and is able to commune with other souls. This communion, however, is purely spiritual in character, and is conditioned upon the disinterested and selfless love of the individuals for each other.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 207)

The best way to do it is through prayer:

In prayer there is a mingling of station, a mingling of condition. Pray for them as they pray for you! When you do not know it, and are in a receptive attitude, they are able to make suggestions to you, if you are in difficulty.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 96)

We can pray for each other in both worlds:

As we have power to pray for these souls here, so likewise we shall possess the same power in the other world, which is the Kingdom of God. Are not all the people in that world the creatures of God? Therefore in that world also they can make progress. As here they can receive light by their supplication, there also they can plead for forgiveness, and receive light through entreaties and supplications. Thus as souls in this world, through the help of the supplications, the entreaties, and the prayers of the holy ones, can acquire development, so is it the same after death. Through their own prayers and supplications they can also progress; more especially when they are the object of the intercession of the Holy Manifestations.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 330)

The Role of Others

Know that in times of our great and irreparable loss, our friends are also sharing our sorrow and grief:

Your touching words in connection with the sudden removal of the Greatest Holy Leaf from their midst have greatly alleviated the burden of sorrow that weighs so heavily upon their hearts and have demonstrated that in their great and irreparable loss the friends are faithfully sharing their sorrow and grief.  (Shoghi Effendi, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 65)

Turn to them – draw on their love for strength and consolation in time of need!

Indeed the believers have not yet fully learned to draw on each other’s love for strength and consolation in time of need. The Cause of God is endowed with tremendous powers, and the reason the believers do not gain more from it is because they have not learned to draw fully on these mighty forces of love and strength and harmony generated by the Faith.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 93)

Sometimes we need to accept help, even if we’ve always been the one to give it.  There are times we serve and times we need to allow others to serve us.  Remember – the highest level of attainment is for us to be a servant; so if our friends have no one to serve, they can’t achieve their station:

Cling, O ye people of Bahá, to the cord of servitude unto God, the True One, for thereby your stations shall be made manifest, your names written and preserved, your ranks raised and your memory exalted in the Preserved Tablet. (Baha’u’llah, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 62)

The greatest gift we can receive is to rejoice someone else’s heart:

Never is it the wish of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to see any being hurt, nor will He make anyone to grieve; for man can receive no greater gift than this, that he rejoice another’s heart.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 203-204)

Of all pilgrimages we ever make, the greatest is to relieve the sorrow-laden heart:

Remember the saying: ‘Of all pilgrimages the greatest is to relieve the sorrow-laden heart.’  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 92)

Be a role model for others:

Your noble letter uplifted us all and renewed our strength and determination; for if you could gather yourself together and rise above such grievous sorrow and shock, and comfort us, we, too, must do no less; but arise and serve the Cause which is our Mother.  (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 41)

What else has helped you grieve the loss of your loved ones?  Post your comments below!