Overcoming the Death of a Loved One, and Unanswered Prayers


My father was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and died on June 2, 2013, within two months after diagnosis.

I prayed to Sri Yogananda, Sri Yukteswarji, Lahiri Mahashaya and Jesus for healing and long life of him, but obody helped me, why so? Can you help me to find out why my father gone this fast? And why guru didn’t help us and answer my prayers?

—lijo joseph, india


I’m sorry for your loss. I think that losing a loved one raises many questions, as it should, and is perhaps the most difficult thing we can go through. I lost Maria, my wife of 25 years, less than three years ago. I still have questions, but I also have received many answers.

Regarding the non-response to your prayer: Paramhansa Yogananda himself couldn’t prolong the life of his brother, Ananta. He also lost his mother at a very early age. We all come to this world with karma. Life can be short or long, based on that karma. Even the prayers of a Master can only rarely extend someone’s life. Yogananda did bring back to life someone who had died, but he said he only did it because God asked him to.

So not all prayers are answered, even the most sincere and good prayers! Perhaps your father had fulfilled the main purpose of his life, even though it may not seem that way. With the life and karma of loved ones, there is rarely an easy answer. But there are some things that you can pray for, and get results.

One is to pray for the soul freedom of your father. Another is to pray for, and even commune with, the soul of your father in meditation.

I’ve learned with my wife that death is not the ending of a relationship, but simply a change. I think of her every day, and every time I meditate. I send her my love, and more and more I can feel her love blessing me from the astral plane. Yogananda taught a way to call to a loved one as you are falling asleep, as they can more easily visit you during your dreams. I can say that it works. He describes it in the book Karma and Reincarnation: The Wisdom of Paramhansa Yogananda.

You can also pray for understanding. You may not get quick or clear answers, but often the question “why” is answered through such a prayer.

Finally, try to understand that there is a cord of love which still connects you with your father. It creates a channel through which the two of you will always stay connected. Send him your love. Try to be receptive to his love coming to you.

In Maria’s last year, she asked Swami Kriyananda how to overcome the fear of death. He told her that we’ve done it many times, and really it’s just like going into the next room, it is that natural. Just as a child can feel comfort just from knowing that its mother is in the next room, without having to actually see her, we too can receive comfort from our loved ones who are in that “next room.” More and more I feel that with Maria, but it takes everyday work, effort, and the desire to keep that relationship alive. I can say that it is well worth the effort.

Finally, I found great comfort in reading the chapter in Autobiography of a Yogi, The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar. Sri Yukteswar’s description of the beauty of the astral plane is very inspiring and comforting. He also describes the eternal nature of our divine friendship with loved ones:

“Friends of other lives easily recognize one another in the astral world,” Sri Yukteswar went on in his beautiful, flutelike voice. “Rejoicing at the immortality of friendship, they realize the indestructibility of love, often doubted at the time of the sad, delusive partings of earthly life.”

May God and the Gurus bless you with ever deeper understanding and insight. I pray that you find divine comfort, and a continuing deep soul-connection with your father.