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November, 2001

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of

physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.

Volume 5, Issue #3




- My Father's Passing
- The Death of a Husband

- The Comfort of Family Members During the Death of my Sister-in-Law
- No Real Separation between Mother and Daughter
- Practical Suggestions to Deal with Grief
- Guidelines to Help a Child Through Grief
- Healing Wounds From the Past and Moving Forward
- Sacred Writings on Life After Death
- Shoghi Effendi Wrapped Himself in a Coat During Grief
- Question of the Month
- Website
- Purpose of the Newsletter




By Gayle Hoover Thorne, California, United States

Ruhiyyih Khanum asked that my father, Wayne Hoover, go on a teaching trip to the Caribbean Islands. This was some time in the fall of 1978. The reason she asked him to go was that he had been an ordained Methodist minister prior to becoming a Baha'i and she felt that his background suited him particularly well to the heavily Christian population of the Caribbean Islands.

Dad was quite weak by the time he readied to leave so he took with him a young Baha'i from Gorham, Maine. Paul Rourke accompanied Dad and tended to whatever needs Dad had.

The two of them went to a couple of the islands before they came to St. Lucia where friends of my father lived. Frank and Pat Paccassi were pioneers on that island.

Dad went on TV and radio, told the people there about Baha'u'llah, about the Faith, told them he had cancer and said that he was going to die and that he hoped he would die there. He died the very next day. The islanders were amazed and moved, even more so when they learned that he would be buried there!

When my father left to go on this teaching trip, I never saw him again. I knew, however, that I would have a dream about him. I waited and waited. Six weeks later I had the following dream...

Dad came into the room wearing his white London Fog overcoat. His face looked ruddy and he went to his dresser to empty his pockets there. The dresser top was bare. In real life his dresser top was so littered with things that if one set a matchbook down on the wrong place, the whole pile would shimmy to the floor.

I looked at Dad and said, "You're supposed to be DEAD (and gone)" and he smiled sideways at me and replied, "I AM, but only when I CHOOSE to be". Then I approached him and gave him a better hug than I'd ever given him in real life. While I was hugging him, I felt the connection. This was MY father. The pull on my heart was great. I whispered into his ear, "What's it like?" Then, realizing that perhaps I shouldn't know the details I whispered, "Just give me a little clue".

Dad waited so long to respond that I thought he hadn't heard me. Then he said, "It's like an infinite tenderness for the Almighty". I woke up just knowing I'd been with him.




by Phoebe Anne Lemmon, Quebec, Canada

A ruptured appendix, followed by an eight-month battle with peritonitis, proved fatal for my first husband, the father of my three children, who were two, six, and seven at the time of his death.

We had not spoken about death during his illness, and, indeed, I never even entertained the thought. I settled into a routine of being at home during the morning until after lunch, having a babysitter in the afternoon while I was at the hospital, returning home to have supper with the children and oversee bedtime, and going back to the hospital for an evening visit while a different friend stayed with the children. These memories are almost thirty-five years old so might not be totally accurate, but I’m sure they’re not far off.

The night my husband died I received the call just a few minutes after having returned home from my evening visit. I had known when I left him that he was very weak and that a nurse would be with him during the night. If I had realized that he was actually leaving this life, I would have stayed with him, of course. I honestly believe, as I came to believe in the days following his death, that during his illness my emotions had gone into some sort of protective mode, so I did not contemplate life without him. I lived very much in the present.

Perhaps at a subconscious level I was dealing with what was happening and preparing for the outcome because I really did not grieve a great deal. I relied on Baha’u’llah’s words that He had “made death a messenger of joy to thee”. The day of my husband’s funeral I felt a warm glow at the centre of my being that spread throughout my entire body. After the funeral a neighbor who was not a Baha’i said to my sister, who was also not a Baha’i, “Your sister looked radiant today. She was a living example of her faith”! And I know the Faith is what sustained me during the hard times.

Although I feel that I fared quite well myself, I am not so sure that I did the best for my children. This was in the days when one did not take children to a funeral and mine stayed with a neighbor (with whose children they often played) who could not handle funerals and had offered to look after them. I had told them the very next morning after his death that Daddy had died the previous evening and tried to assure them that he was no longer sick and in pain, but I do not know what needs they had that they did not express and that I did not recognize. With grief, as with any other experience we have in life, our best recourse is total reliance on the guidance in the Writings.





By Johnson Maxey

In October 1991, my sister-in-law, still four months short of her thirty-ninth birthday, died of a heart attack (heart problems run in her family.) This stunned all of us and hurt us deeply since we had felt Mary Jane as a close family member, probably almost from the time when she began seeing my brother in 1970.

I learned the value of spending three days in the company of my immediate family and Mary Jane's, to grieve together. This must have made us feel comfortable with our feelings of loss. I think that the collective memory of her made her seem nearly present. I don't recall any time when so many people cried, and that felt good.

One of Mary Jane's sisters had the excellent idea for each of us writing something about Jane--memories of what she meant to us. The sister with excellent handwriting compiled them and gave them to the minister conducting the funeral service. He read them as a eulogy, probably the most fitting that one could have. Tears flowed again. I hope that you can find some significance in my experience.





By Frances Mezei, Ontario, Canada (This article first appeared in "Parenting in the New World Order", Volume 1, Issue #9, 1992)

It has been my good fortune to have had a special mother who taught me how to listen to love. She planted loving seeds in me which were kindly watered, nurtured and cared for and continues to do so from the other world. My mother departed to the other world back in 1977 when I was nineteen years old after a nine year struggle with a brain tumor. Watching her deal with her illness was at times very painful and yet very natural. She had an amazingly enduring strength and every time I would visit her at the hospital, she would smile at me and continue to give me deep love. And yet, I watched her undergo tremendous physical pain, lose her balance causing her at times to fall, lose her hair, lose her memory and other bodily functions. Her greatest sacrifice was giving me her uniquely human gift of speech which she herself lost from time to time during her illness. I should mention that my mother helped me overcome a profound hearing loss and she taught me lipreading and listening skills.

At my mother's funeral, my dear father read the most precious description about my mother. I would be honoured to share with you the last line which I treasure the most. "She will remain alive in all of us. She always requested: "Please pray for me and remember me.' I am sure we all will."

When I was young, I had no concept of God or understanding of the power of prayer. Whenever, my mother asked me to pray for her, I thought she was talking nonsense. I felt that my mother was taken away from me forever and I would never see her again. It was a dead feeling and I felt as though I had just entered a deep, dark and black void...

Twelve years later after being strongly guided and working hard to develop my spirituality, I discovered that God exists. Soon after this miracle, I began to pray and for one whole month during my mother's anniversary of the time of her death in January 1989, I prayed and prayed for her each day. I have never felt happier and it was amazing to have thought that I was at last fulfilling my mother's request to me to please pray for her. Very soon after this, I became a Baha'i. Now, I feel that she is very happy and is growing spiritually in the other world. We continue to pray for each other, provide inner strength and our special love continues to bloom. I am now at peace for I was enriched by her motherly love which lasts eternally.

"In the next world, man will find himself freed from many of the disabilities under which he now suffers. Those who have passed on through death have a sphere of their own. It is not removed from ours; their work, the work of the kingdom, is ours; but it is sanctified from what we call 'time and place.' Time with us is measured by the sun. When there is no more sunrise, and no more sunset, that kind of time does not exist for man. Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation. In prayer there is a mingling of station, a mingling of condition. Pray for them as they pray for you!" ('Abdu'l-Baha, 'Abdu'l-Baha in London, pp. 95-96)




These are excerpts taken from "After the Darkest Hour: How Suffering Begins the Journey to Wisdom" by Kathleen A Brettony, PhD, pp. 206-07

1. When you are in the wake of a great loss, recognize and acknowledge that you are grieving. Some characteristic feelings you may experience are: shock, denial, anger, sadness, anxiety, emptiness. Allow yourself to feel these fully. Have patience with yourself as your broken heart heals.

2. Let yourself feel the pain. Give in to it. Accept that grief's emotions come in waves, in cycles. Let yourself cry. Viktor Frankl reminds us that tears are no cause for shame. " For tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer," he wrote. Many people have told me that they were afraid to cry for fear that the tears would never stop. I can only tell you that, after more than twenty years of working with grieving people and suffering grief myself, I have never seen that happen. If the tears go unshed, however, the fear of their torment can continue until they are released.

3. Express your sorrow. Talk about your grief. Write about your feelings in a journal. Express your sadness through art of any kind. Paint, dance, sculpt, write, or sing into the world. Release the pressure of the pain and don't be ashamed to let it out.

4. Forgive yourself for all the things you think you should have done or wish you had said and didn't. Let go of your regrets. However, pay attention to what you wish you had done and let your grief about chances lost impel you to change now and in the future. Show your feelings to others you love. Let grief help you to treasure each moment you have. Let it encourage you to express your tenderness but forgive yourself for what you cannot change.

5. Take care of yourself. Maintain a balanced diet and good exercise habits. Take care of your physical body. Meditate. Grief is exhausting and we often get distracted from our normal routines when it visits us. When you're grieving is a particularly good time to become very committed to caring for yourself.

6. Find diversions. Although it is important to sit with your grief - doing nothing but experiencing "what is" - it is also necessary to take some breaks from it. Go out to a lighthearted movie with a friend. Be frivolous. Have fun.

7. Be aware of "anniversary reactions" and know that certain, special days are likely to be particularly tough ones for you, especially in the early days of grief. Plan activities that commemorate your loss. It will ease your pain. Some feelings of loss will be triggered throughout your life by a wide array of reminders. These can be all kinds of sights, sounds, smells, and events that recall your loss. If grief is not fully worked through, if most of it lies beneath the surface in the underworld of the unconscious, these triggers can engender major psychological reactions rather than a passing feeling of loss or nostalgia. Be aware of the intensity of your responses to these memories. If you break down completely when something triggers a memory of a lost loved one, explore ways to mourn your loss more consciously.

8. Get help if you need it. Be aware that sadness can turn into depression. There are many resources that you can turn to for help: a therapist who specializes in grief, bereavement groups, or support groups for people who are going through divorce or the loss of a career.

9. Help others. Nothing puts our own grief in perspective as much as helping others who are struggling with their own sorrow. Volunteer and share with others your experiences. Listen to theirs. Find the healing that this simple transaction brings.





These are excerpts taken from "After the Funeral" which is a resource guide to the practical and emotional issues, pp. 29 -30. Prepared by J.B. Marlatt Funeral Homes Ltd, Dundas, Ontario, Canada.

a) As soon as possible after death, set time aside to talk to the child.

b) Give the child the facts in a simple manner - be careful not to go into too much detail. The child will ask more questions as they come up in his or her mind.

c) If you can't answer their questions, it's OK to say "I don't know how to answer that, but perhaps we can find someone to help us".

d) Use the correct language - say the words "dead" and "die". Do not use phrases such as, "He's sleeping...", or "God took her...", or "He went away...".

e) Ask questions. "What are you feeling?" "What have you heard from your friends?" "What do you think has happened?"

f) Explain your feelings to your children, especially if you are crying. Give them permission to cry too. We are their role models: it is good for children to see our sadness and to share our feelings with them.

g) Use the given name of the decreased when speaking of him or her.

h) Understand the age and level of comprehension of your child. Speak to that level.

i) Talk about feelings, such as angry, sad, feeling responsible, scared, tearful, depressed, wishing to die too, etc.

j) Read a book on death to your child. Also, read a book on childhood grief so you have a better understanding of what they may be experiencing.

k) Talk about the visitation period and funeral. Explain what happens there and find out if your child wants to attend with the rest of your family.

l) Think about ways that a child can say goodbye to the decreased, such as writing a letter, poem, drawing a picture, etc.

m) Talk to your child about your religious beliefs, and what happens to people after they die.

n) Invite your child to come back to you if he or she has more questions or has heard rumors so that you can help him or her to get the correct information.

o) Talk about memories, good ones and ones that may not be so good.

p) Watch out for "bad dreams" - are they occurring often? Talk about the dreams: they are a way to discharge stress.

q) Watch for behaviour changes in your child - if they are cause for concern, seek professional help.

r) Friends, family and school mates frequently find solace and comfort in doing something special in the name of the person who had died.

s) Sudden death, violent death and the death of a young person are especially hard to grieve. Disruption of sleep, appetite, and daily activities may be normal responses to an abnormal or unusual event.





These are excerpts taken from "After the Darkest Hour: How Suffering Begins the Journey to Wisdom" by Kathleen A Brettony, PhD, pp. 185-186

"As a psychotherapist, I've seen many people who cannot seem to leave their past behind. In fact, their whole self-definition seems to rely on past abuse and pain. At the other extreme are people who refuse to revisit the trauma of their past in spite of the fact that it continues to exert its very painful influence in the present. "There's nothing I can do about what happened to me. So why even talk about it? they say. Once again, I think the best approach to healing wounds from the past and reducing their correspondent suffering in the present lies in taking the middle way.

The example I often use with my clients is that a childhood trauma is like have fallen off your bike when you were younger. Imagine that you crashed onto a gravelly roadway and hurt your knee badly. You've healed - sort of. But, even after many years, there are still pieces of that gravel in your knee. You can get around - you can function.  You might be one of the "walking wounded." Still, you can walk. But what you cannot do is dance. And there is pain. Sometimes when the weather is damp (things you can't control) or you move in a certain way (unconscious things you do that aggravate the pain), an intense and blazing pain runs up your leg. You're knocked down. You're suffering even now from something that happened a long time ago. It seems to me that the only way to heal this injury is to cut open this scar and remove the stones that are still in there. This is a terribly difficult task - the wound is ugly, and has been festering, under the surface, for years and years. And so, you must carefully, painstakingly, pick out the gravel, wash it clean, and remove all the obstacles to healing. Having done that, you stitch it up. And then? And then, you leave it alone. It will never heal if you continue to pick at it. Let it heal. But this time around, let it heal cleanly. If the wound is particularly serious, it's wise to get some professional help with it. In order to heal cleanly, it is sometimes necessary to revisit our painful past and then consciously get beyond it, let it go, and move courageously into our future.

No matter how painful your past has been, you can change yourself now. It will not be easy and it will take time. But you can begin today, right now if you choose to. As in any journey, the first step is usually the hardest; but once you take it, you can begin the ascent out of the ashes of pain and negative self-images and into the clear light of self-love."


"O Friends of the Pure and Omnipotent God! To be pure and holy in all things is an attribute of the consecrated mind. The best of perfections is immaculacy and the freeing of oneself from every defect. Once the individual is, in every respect, cleansed and purified, then will he become a focal centre reflecting the Manifest Light.

First in a human being's way of life must be purity, then freshness, cleanliness, and independence of spirit. First must the stream bed be cleansed, then may the sweet river waters be led into it. Chaste eyes enjoy the beatific vision of the Lord and know what this encounter meaneth; a pure sense inhaleth the fragrances that blow from the rose gardens of His grace; a burnished heart will mirror forth the comely face of truth." ('Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 146)




The Sacred Writings of the Baha'i Faith can offer us understanding, guidance and solace to cope with death, grief and life after death.

A friend asked: "How should one look forward to death?" 'Abdu'l-Baha answered: "How does one look forward to the goal of any journey? With hope and with expectation. It is even so with the end of this earthly journey...Those who have passed on through death have a sphere of their own. It is not removed from ours....Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation." ('Abdu'l-Baha in London, pp. 95-96)

"At first it is very difficult to welcome death, but after attaining its new condition the soul is grateful, for it has been released from the bondage of the limited to enjoy the liberties of the unlimited. It has been freed from a world of sorrow, grief and trials to live in a world of unending bliss and joy" ( 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 47)

"The purpose underlying their (Prophets') revelation hath been to educate all men, that they may, at the hour of death, ascend in the utmost purity and sanctity and with absolute detachment to the throne of the Most High." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 157)

" O Son of the Supreme! I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? I made the light to shed on thee its spendour. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom.?" (Baha'u'llah, The Hidden Words, Arabic #33)

"To consider that after the death of the body the spirit perishes is like imagining that a bird in a cage will be destroyed if the cage is broken, though the bird has nothing to fear from the destruction of the cage. Our body is like the cage, and the spirit is like the bird. We see that without the cage this bird flies in the world of sleep; therefore, if the cage becomes broken, the bird will continue and exist. Its feelings will be even more powerful, its perceptions greater, and its happiness increased." ('Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p 228)





We can learn from the Manifestation of God, His son 'Abdu'l-Baha and His great grandson Shoghi Effendi who had a firm anchor on how to cope with life's many crises and victories. Ruhiyyih Khanum in her book, "The Priceless Pearl" mentions that the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, would be so deeply affected by events swirling around Him that He would sometimes wrap himself up in a coat of Baha'u'llah and lie absolutely motionless. This story illustrates striking a balance between maintaining  our optimism while allowing ourselves time to re-group and heal.

"Yet who can doubt that all the central Figures demonstrated to the whole of mankind an assured and happy way of life? Here is where their example seems particularly precious. To rise above the disappointments, obstacles, and pain which we experience in serving the Cause is difficult enough, but to be called on, in doing so, to be happy and confident is perhaps the keenest spiritual test any of us can meet. The lives of the Founders of our Faith clearly show that to be fundamentally assured does not mean that we live without anxieties, nor does being happy mean that there are not periods of deep grief when, like the Guardian, we wrap ourselves in a blanket, pray and supplicate, and give ourselves time for healing in preparation for the next great effort." (A letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada quoted in Quickeners of Mankind p. 117)




"We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high; make it not, therefore, as wings to self and passion. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 51)

Music is an important means to the education and development of humanity. Music is also nourishing for healing our body, mind and soul. Please share your experiences, stories and thoughts about using music for health and education.




You can visit the website, obtain back issues and the Healing Through Unity Course at:




"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ontario, Canada.

Please send your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to Frances Mezei by e-mail: -- .


Many thanks to all of you who send such wonderful contributions for "Healing Through Unity" Newsletter. The decision to select and edit material submitted for publication is determined by the editor. If you have a change of e-mail address, please inform me with your old and new email addresses. To cancel the subscription, please send message to: --

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