*Trigger Warning: Infant and Child loss*
October 31st is a particularly salient date in my family. No, not because it is Halloween.
October 31st is the date that 29 years ago today, my mother and father said goodbye to their 10-day old son, after a perfectly healthy pregnancy with no indication that their son had a heart defect.
October also happens to be Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. And, on this day, I cannot help but think of my mother and all the mothers who have grieved the death of a child.
There are no words that can accurately and truly describe this loss. My heart aches thinking about the night my mother went home from the hospital, after 9 long months, with no baby boy in her arms to a 2-year old daughter who was expecting a little brother to come home soon too.
How does one go on?
As a mother myself now, this pain feels much more real, despite never experiencing this myself. Knowing how it has felt to carry a precious life in my womb, struggle with the pangs of labour, and hold my little one in my arms… it makes the pain seem all the more unbearable. And yet, I have witnessed my mother bear it. And bear it with grace, humility, patience, and gratitude to her Lord.
It is undeniable that this is an incredible test from Allah (SWT)… one chosen for the most resilient of Believing women.
Allah (SWT) tells us in Surah Al Baqarah, verses 155 to 157, “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As- Saabiroon (the patient). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly, to Allaah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.’ They are those on whom are the Salawaat (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones.”
I pray that my Mother, and all the Mamas who have experienced loss, are of those who are ‘blessed and will be forgiven’ as Allah SWT promises in these poignant verses.
Is there any pain greater than the loss of one’s baby? And yet, we know – without a doubt – that “Allah does not burden a soul beyond their capacity” [Qur’an, 2: 286].
I often imagine my mother, at the age of 20, kissing her baby goodbye and watching him take his last breath. I wonder how much strength a human being must have to persevere through this – to endure and to have been chosen by Allah SWT as one of the few who had the capacity to bear this pain.
And then, I think of how her test – her trial – and that of so many other countless parents – is like that of the Prophet (SAW). I can’t help but reflect upon the fact that our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) too lost a child at a young age, witnessing Ibrahim’s last breaths and shedding tears and grieving, just as so many parents since have grieved.
And what a mercy our faith is, allowing for the expression of that grief in a beautiful way.
One of the Prophet’s companions, Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Auf said, “O Allah’s Apostle, even you are weeping!” The Prophet replied, “O Ibn `Auf, this is mercy.” The Prophet (SAW) wept more and then he said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord. Oh, Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation” [Sahih Bukhari].
But, not forever.
In an incredibly beautiful narration, the Prophet (SAW) gives us glad tidings to hope and pray for each parent who has experienced loss to be reunited with their child in Jannah.
It was narrated that Abu Hassaan said: I said to Abu Hurayrah: Two of my sons have died. Can you narrate to me any hadith from the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) which will console us for our loss? He said: Yes: “Their little ones are the little ones (da’aamees) of Paradise. When one of them meets his father – or his parents – he takes hold of his garment – or his hand – as I am taking hold of the hem of your garment, and he does not let go until Allah admits him and his father to Paradise” [Sahih Muslim]
So Mama, I pray that one day, I see you walking into Jannah with my little brother pulling you by the hem of your garment, where you will finally, finally be reunited. But this time – forever. I know you’ve been waiting for that embrace for decades, and I have no doubt that Allah SWT will bless you with that which your heart aches for.