Grief for My Departed Child


I lost my son a little over a month ago, after. 3 year battle with a “very curable” type of cancer he passed, he was only 29 and I am trying to find an answer on why this happened, is it my fault? Did I do something bad that I have to pay for? He was a loving son and good person in general

—Sonia Fuschetto, United States


​Dear Sonia,

As a parent of adult children, my heart goes out to you. No parent wants to outlive their own child. But why? We ask these important questions at such times and the question echoes in the hall of thoughts, seemingly unanswered. The “why” questions of life seem shrouded in mystery and from Yogananda’s counsel given to many sincere seekers of truth, it seems our task is more on the practical level of what I can do that will be positive and life-affirming. The meaning and lesson of life’s tragedies is not that we “should not” grieve but, rather, that we carry on with faith, hope and charity, for life itself goes on, doesn’t it?

​I once attended a reunion of my wife’s Dutch-Jewish relatives: few had remained after the Holocaust. But in the picture gallery that displayed both those lost and those who survived was one photograph of a young couple who, in 1945, after nearly five years of occupation and extermination of Jews and after a winter of near starvation, got married. The photo showed them in simple clothing, smiling somewhat sheepishly, but making the statement that love and life can never die.

That simple photograph encapsulated the promise of the soul’s immortality in very human terms. Life can never die. Your son, though gone from your mortal sight, remains both in your heart and mind, and, in Spirit and in truth. You can still talk to him. Your prayers during this period of time especially are important: every spiritual tradition affirms this. Bereft of mortal form, brain and nervous system, and at such a young age, he may be in a confused state​. Your thoughts and prayers sent directly quietly and calmly from your heart and spiritual eye can comfort him. It is best, however, that you do this at times when you are not suffused in grief.

Grief is not to be suppressed or regretted. It passes through us like water, food, or invisible radio waves. Accept such times and simply hold that grief calmly in your heart, body and mind just as if your son were with you and you are embracing him as if he were about to embark on a long trip.

Affirm gratitude for your relationship with him, the years together, the good and the other things, too.

There are innumerable possible answers to the “why.” One could speak of karma but would we really know “why?” Whose karma? Yours? His? Both? But, why?

I want to tell you a secret: but you must keep it locked in your heart. Your son’s tragic death contains a gift for you. I do not know when the gift will be revealed to you or what it will be, but I know that he’s keeping it for you waiting for the time when you are ready to receive it. As we are children of God, he lives and I urge you to first affirm and then gradually feel this truth in your heart for it is there that the gift will be revealed.

In service to the divine in you, me, and all,
Nayaswami Hriman