Grief

On our way back to the carriage I said I feared I had made my mother [Elizabeth Royal, who had lived with the Parsons Family in Washington, D.C.] unhappy by trying to keep my thoughts from her, after she had passed away — I felt then that unless I did this, as she had had such an overwhelming affection for me while she was here, that the constant thinking on my part might hold her here and this I wanted to avoid. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said I had done right not to sorrow that the spirit of another rejoices in the joy of the loved one — that it is wrong to allow ourselves to grieve for those who have passed away. “If friends go to live in another city, they do not like to hear that their friends are lamenting.”
(Mahmud’s Diary, April 24, 1912)


This woman was a widow who had been left with the care of a simple-minded boy, and had also managed to support a brilliant son through the University at Berkeley. Hardly graduated, he stepped outside the garden gate, was struck down by a car and died. Ahead of the woman, bound to the simple-minded one, there now stretched, instead of increasing joy, a future of unending grief. At the request of Florence’s mother, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited this woman. He dismissed two Persians who accompanied Him, and Florence was left, to her dismay, with her sketchy Persian, to translate. But her Persian began to flow, she said, and the Master spoke to the woman in words such as these: ‘I seem to see your son’, He told her, ‘like a great bird soaring through the heavens of God’s love and grace. He says and asks, “I am completely happy here. Why does my mother weep?” He knows when you cry for him, and when you sorrow and pray. As for him, would you like to hear of his only grief?’ ‘Oh yes, Master!’ she said. ‘It is his mother’s tears.’ ‘Oh, Master, what am I to do?’ ‘It is only human,’ He told her gently, ‘to grieve and weep and mourn the ones we love. But perhaps you could weep a little less? Perhaps you could temper your sorrow just a little?’
(Marzieh Gail, Arches of the Years, p. 88-89)


Corinne True recorded what she observed on an early pilgrimage: ‘Arising early I went into the living room where the Master meets with His family every morning between six and seven o‘clock. The widow of one of the martyrs sits on the floor in the Persian style and makes and serves the tea every morning. Her husband was one of three brothers who were imprisoned for this Cause. For days they had no news about them. One day they heard a great noise in the street and looking out they saw three heads placed on long poles and being carried through the streets, and when in front of their home they tossed these heads into their mother’s room. She wiped them off with water and then threw them back, saying, “What I have given to God I will not take back.” This woman who makes the tea had been married only one year to one of these brothers. Having lost all of her relatives through the persecution, and Persian women having no openings for self-support, the Master took her into His household. What a wonderful household this is – over forty people living here in one home, some black, some white, Arabic, Persian, Burmanese, Italian, Russian and now English and American! Not a loud command is heard and not one word of dispute; not one word of fault-finding. Every one goes about as if on tip toes. When they enter your room, their slippers are left before the door and they come in with stocking feet and remain standing until you invite them to sit down.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 93)


Before He left, He spent some time with Corinne True. At one point, she tearfully told Him that she had had a very sad life with sad things to bear. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied, “I know, I know, Mrs. true, because I have sent them to you.” His answer, instead of causing consternation, brought peace to her heart because now she knew why these things had happened. They were to make her strong. Later she became a great support for anyone who had lost a loved one.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 197)


Corinne True recorded what she observed on an early pilgrimage: ‘Arising early I went into the living room where the Master meets with His family every morning between six and seven o‘clock. The widow of one of the martyrs sits on the floor in the Persian style and makes and serves the tea every morning. Her husband was one of three brothers who were imprisoned for this Cause. For days they had no news about them. One day they heard a great noise in the street and looking out they saw three heads placed on long poles and being carried through the streets, and when in front of their home they tossed these heads into their mother’s room. She wiped them off with water and then threw them back, saying, “What I have given to God I will not take back.”
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 93)


‘Abdu’l-Bahá had occasion to try to comfort a woman who had lost her beloved baby over twenty-one years before. He asked her not to cry. He told her, ‘I had a son who was four years old, and when he died I did not at all change My attitude. I gave My son to God as a trust, and so at his death I did not grieve.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 162)


‘Abdu’l-Bahá learned well the meaning of Bahá’u’lláh’s words: ‘Beware, lest thou allow anything whatsoever to grieve thee.’ Acquainted with sorrow, He was known to shed tears when He spoke of the hardships endured by Bahá’u’lláh, His family and His followers who went into exile with Him. Sometimes He appeared sad because not more people were responsive to His call to Bahá’u’lláh, but He truly lived what He spoke when He said, referring to the spiritual Kingdom, ‘A man living with his thoughts in this Kingdom knows perpetual joy. The ills all flesh is heir to do not pass him by, but they only touch the surface of his life, the depths are calm and serene.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 126)


Corinne True had desperately wish to meet Abdu’l Bahá when He landed in New York, but her son Davis was critically ill. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá finally arrived in Chicago, one of the first things He did on the morning of 30, April was to go to the True home to see Davis. After the visit, He told Corrine that Davis was better than expected, which she took to mean that he would recover … While the Master kept Corrine busy, her son Davis passed away and she later realized that when He had said that Davis was better than expected, He really meant spiritually. In spite of her son’s death, she was at the Temple site the next day. The day after the Temple dedication, the True family held a Bahá’í funeral for their son. Later ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went the cemetery and pray not only for her son, but for other children there. Davis was the fourth son she had lost. Nathanael had died in 1899 and Kenneth in 1900, both due to heart failure caused by a new drug. Laurence drowned in 1906 and her husband, Moses, died in 1909. No man of her family were left. Corinne True was raised by Shoghi Effendi to the rank of Hand of the Cause of God in 1952.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 111-112)