A Letter to Rachel

Ram Dass wrote a letter some years ago to a family who had lost their young daughter, Rachel.  Although he wrote it to these two parents specifically, everything in this letter applies to anyone who has lost a child.

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

9 thoughts on “A Letter to Rachel”

  1. So exquisitely real, painful, glorious, this life, this death. Our hearts do find the way, even when our minds cannot. Any loss of a child is to be shared with all. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. This is the most beautiful heartfelt letter I have ever read. In a virtual minefield of wrong things to say, this letter eloquently says everything I can imagine wanting to hear if I were in this position. Ram Dass forges a path of light in the darkness of grief. I am so grateful that this letter is printed for all to read and reference.

    Reply
  3. My son Jimmy decide to leave earth November 2011. This letter has helped me process, and I have shared this letter with many—those who come to me with heavy hearts from their love one’s passing. In gratitude, Marianne Wells

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  4. Incredible letter! After my son’s death the grief was so intense I can’t remember the entire year after he died. But I found my strength in acknowledging he would want me to live the best life I could in his memory. Plus, your book “Be Here Now” was a book he requested a week before his passing. I recall his conversation with his father explaining the concept of the book. He was my teacher and I thank God I was able to express that to him before his body made the transition. Thank you for sharing!

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  5. I lost my beloved son, Kevin, in August 2007. His absence leaves a gap so wide and so dark, I do not know how I will survive without him. Reading Ram Dass’ letter to Rachel makes a tiny impression on the grief that has become my everyday mantra…..please, Kevin, be at peace wherever you are. Please know that I love you forever.

    Reply
  6. Six months after you invited my son Andrew to Maui and you welcomed him, called him by name to the table, (never having met you!) my son, battling addiction and Marfan syndrome, passed away.
    After he met you, there was a new light in him. You had been his hero for many of his 26 years.
    I asked how you knew his name, and his answer was that you are pure love.
    I believe you gave him permission to be free. He suffered here and was such a beautiful, gentle soul. Life was just too harsh for his gentle ways.
    Until I found this letter, my heart was filled with grief. It still is, and always will be, but this letter has brought me so much peace. Thank you. I am now able to enjoy Andrew and thank him and feel blessed having had him in my life.
    Thank you, Ram Das!
    Jennie Logsdon Martin
    http://Www.ifish.net

    Reply
  7. Thank you for this letter, and I’m thankfull for having remembered it. This morning I lost my son, one hour and ten minutes shy of him becoming one week old. Having been born prematurely in another country I never had the chance to see him or to hold him. Knowing full well the incarnation which this time took the shape of my son is doing just fine elsewhere, I still find myself in the darkest of nights and the fires of pain surely burning fiercly. I find great comfort in this letter. And I want to say thanks and all the love.

    Reply

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