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For parents who have lost a child

A little girl named Rachel was killed in my hometown of Ashland, Oregon, in 1979. She was eleven years old; I was ten. Her parents were so stricken with grief and horror, they didn't know if they could go on. In the midst of their pain, they received a letter from Ram Dass. The letter helped to give them, in Rachel's mother's words, "light at the end of the tunnel." Here is that letter, in hopes that it may help someone who is grieving:

Dear Steve and Anita,

Rachel finished her work on earth, and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a cry of agony in our hearts, as the fragile thread of our faith is dealt with so violently. Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teaching as you are receiving? Probably very few. And even they would only have a whisper of equanimity and peace amidst the screaming trumpets of their rage, grief, horror and desolation.

I can’t assuage your pain with any words, nor should I. For your pain is Rachel’s legacy to you. Not that she or I would inflict such pain by choice, but there it is. And it must burn its purifying way to completion. For something in you dies when you bear the unbearable, and it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees, and to love as God loves.

Now is the time to let your grief find expression. No false strength. Now is the time to sit quietly and speak to Rachel, and thank her for being with you these few years, and encourage her to go on with whatever her work is, knowing that you will grow in compassion and wisdom from this experience. In my heart, I know that you and she will meet again and again, and recognize the many ways in which you have known each other. And when you meet you will know, in a flash, what now it is not given to you to know: Why this had to be the way it was.

Our rational minds can never understand what has happened, but our hearts – if we can keep them open to God – will find their own intuitive way. Rachel came through you to do her work on earth, which includes her manner of death. Now her soul is free, and the love that you can share with her is invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space.

In that deep love,
include me.

In love,
Ram Dass


Dear Sarah,
Thank you for sharing this amazing letter full of love from Ram Dass.
I knowIt is hard to accept the lost of our loved ones. I lost one of my best friends 10 years ago. but accepting that we all can grew in compassion and wisdom from this experience it helps me to keep going.
Love this phrase:
"Now her soul is free, and the love that you can share with her is invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space."
All my love,

Maria Alejandra Alcaraz

Susan K.A.'s picture

Thank you for your comment, MariaAle

Dear MariaAle,
I'm glad you found something in the letter that spoke to you. I love that phrase too. I have never lost someone I was really close to, besides my four very dear grandparents, but I have been faced with almost losing my father more than once and the pain is excruciating so I have had an inkling of what is to come. It is hard to imagine the desolation of losing one of my sons, however. It is very important to me to maintain a spiritual practice to help me weather these storms.

All my love to you,


"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being."

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