May 11 : Miscarriages and Karma
One of the inmates that I corresponded with when he was previously incarcerated was out, subsequently gotten married, and he and his spouse were expecting a child. The baby was about four months when he died in the womb, and they had to induce labour to expel the baby. They were really upset and devastated because they loved this child even though they had never met face to face. We were talking about it, and I was saying to him that grief does not have to be overwhelming, consuming, and such. It is a process of adapting to a change that you did not want and did not expect. We talked about how grief is so often due to attachment to a future we imagined that turned out not to be so. I explained to him how when we are born we have a karmic lifespan of how long we live. If there is the ripening of a very severe heavy karma, then we die before that karmic lifespan has been fulfilled.
They say that in such a case when the person is reborn, there is often a miscarriage or a stillbirth, or the baby dies when it is quite young because it had that little bit of human karma left from a previous life to experience. I was really saying to him, please understand that this is the baby’s karma, and it is not his fault and it is not his wife’s fault. Often in cases of miscarriage or stillbirth, people blame themselves thinking, “If only,” or, “If I had done this,” or, “If he or she had done that….” Thinking in such a manner is completely useless because you cannot prove any of it and it is only going to create an unnecessary heaviness and distance between people in the family, whereas right now you really need to come together and support each other.
We talked about saying prayers for the child to have a good rebirth with precious human life and the conditions to meet fully qualified teachers and attain awakening quickly. He was very firm and repeated several times in the conversation, “Please also dedicate the Abbey’s prayers for all other families who are experiencing this now. I do not want it to seem like it is just me and my sorrow. There are so many other families out there.” He recounted that the hospital said 15% of all pregnancies ended in such a manner. I advised him to take this experience, even as tragic as it is, and really practise the Dharma, by remembering that death can happen at any time and so therefore it is important to be ready when death comes. Death is a transition, just like birth is too. In this way, we can go on in our lives with hope and optimism and learn from whatever had happened in the past.
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