Grief After Baby’s Death

Grief After Baby’s Death

Date of Advice:
May 2018
Date Posted:
April 2019

A student had been grieving for many years after her child had died at birth. She had been trying to conceive in various ways for a long time but not been able to. She asked Rinpoche for advice on how to deal with situation.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche near Ajanta Caves, India, November 2008. Photo: Ven. Roger Kunsang.

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you for your kind letter. I am sorry we did not get to meet.

Regarding your baby dying after his birth, this is not the first time—we have died numberless times during birth from beginningless rebirths and so has he. You have been born to him and he has been born to you numberless times; it is not only this time, but numberless times. This time he died, but numberless times he was born and lived, and numberless times he has also died. Numberless times he was born alive and will be in the future, for as long as you and he are in samsara.

Because he was born to you, that happened due to a past connection, and that means he will be born to you again numberless times and you will be born to him numberless times. This is not the last time. This is what happens for as long as you are in samsara. This is not the first time you saw him, met him; it has happened numberless times and you will meet him again, so there is nothing to worry about.

Of course if you are worrying and sad because he is in samsara—where he has to suffer and experience the suffering of pain, the suffering of change and pervasive compounded suffering—if this is why you are worrying, then that is OK, that is worthwhile. (If you do not know about these three types of suffering in samsara, then you can ask Geshe-la to explain more about this.)

That is a means to generate compassion—wishing to free him from the sufferings of samsara, and as well as him, for all sentient beings to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering. That is very worthwhile and from that compassion arises. That causes you to generate bodhicitta and from that to achieve enlightenment and to be able to perfectly help others.

Regarding your first question, according to my observation it looks difficult to have a child, it did not come out.

Regarding question two, according to my observation it seems better to adopt. But if you do that, you have to think how to make the child’s life beneficial to others, to the world, to numberless sentient beings. How to make the child’s life beneficial to others is the main point to concentrate on—how to help the child have a good heart, loving kindness, compassion, bodhicitta, the ultimate good heart, to live life with that. Then their life can be beneficial for all sentient beings. So to learn that and live the life in that way, to actualize that. The child should live life with that, and try to do everything with the good heart as much as possible, the ultimate good heart, bodhicitta.

Otherwise having a child is just suffering, attachment, just from the self-cherishing thought, just service to attachment, to the self-cherishing thought, just suffering. If you can’t make your child’s life beneficial for other sentient beings, then it is only suffering. If you are able to make the child’s life beneficial for sentient beings then whatever hardships you bore, it’s worthwhile.

Regarding your third question, when you miss your child who died, you can think:

By my experiencing this grief, may all mother sentient beings be free from all grief, as well as from sickness, spirit harm and negative karmas collected from beginningless rebirths, and may they immediately achieve enlightenment.

Then recite OM MANI PADME HUM. Recite this whole verse and OM MANI PADME HUM over and over, doing a mala or more.

If you do this, you are making your grief and your experience for the benefit of all sentient beings. Then it is so worthwhile. It causes you to achieve enlightenment quickly, in order to be able to perfectly benefit sentient beings—for them to be free from the oceans of samsara sufferings and to bring them to enlightenment.

I want to tell you one thing—you and all sentient beings have been born to each of us numberless times from beginningless rebirths and that will happen again endlessly. If we don’t practice Dharma in this life; if we don’t actualize the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, which ceases the cause [of suffering]—delusion and karma —then we will have to be born again in samsara, to sentient beings. This is including your child who died. This has been happening from beginningless rebirths, again and again, the same thing. Without practicing Dharma then it goes on endlessly, we get reborn.

With much love and prayers ...