How I found happiness again after the devastating loss of a child.
by Florence Ndi
A year into my Buddhist practice, I learned that I was pregnant with my third child, a dream come true.
This joy was short-lived when I began facing complications. By 16 weeks, I had already been to the emergency room twice for bleeding in the placenta. Both times, the baby survived.
At 20 weeks, I was rushed to the ER. The next morning, on June 23, 2014, my baby passed away. I felt devastated, ashamed and empty.
My disappointment quickly turned into anger toward my Buddhist practice because it was the one thing I had done differently from my first two pregnancies. Although I still believed the Gohonzon represented my life, I stopped chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and thought deeply about moving my altar to the back of my house. My SGI family continued calling me for over a week, asking to come over but I kept making excuses.
Eventually I agreed, and they shared encouraging words from SGI President Ikeda, but I was trapped in my profound grief. As deep as my suffering was, I wanted to hold on to the grief because it was the only thing that I had of my child. Letting my despair go would be as if my baby had never existed. It was the worst type of feeling.
When my friend and co-worker who introduced me to Buddhism visited my home, I reluctantly chanted with her. Surprisingly, I started to feel relieved and like myself again. She also shared President Ikeda’s guidance with me: “This Buddhism has the power to transform your suffering into happiness, to change the tears you have shed into glittering jewels of good fortune. Those who have wept the most bitterly have the right to become the happiest people of all” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 1, p. 207). I placed this quote on my altar as a reminder of brighter days ahead.
I realized that I had a mission to help other women who were going through similar experiences by overcoming this suffering.
I started my practice again and, as my spirits lifted, my husband, Anthony, and I decided to try having another baby. For a year and a half, I struggled to conceive but kept chanting with this passage in mind from The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin: “The journey from Kamakura to Kyoto takes twelve days. If you travel for eleven but stop with only one day remaining, how can you admire the moon over the capital?” (“Letter to Niike,” WND-1, 1027). I knew I had to keep going. No one ever said, “I gave up and won!”
One day while chanting, I recalled that my mother had lost my sister when she was in the second grade. It was deeply traumatic for the entire family. I realized that I had a mission to help other women who were going through similar experiences by overcoming this suffering.
In December 2015, I learned that I was pregnant. I went straight to the Gohonzon and chanted, knowing that I needed to muster deep faith.
My pregnancy was smooth for about 17 weeks until my cervix started to open up, the same issue I had confronted in the past. However, based on the confidence I had gained in front of the Gohonzon, I chanted with conviction that this baby was going to make it. The next week, my cervix was right back to where it needed to be.
On Aug. 5, 2016, I gave birth to a full-term healthy son, Zayn. Today, he is so strong and smart, and loves to chant. Zayn is everything I chanted for and more.
I’ve learned through this ordeal that my children—Winston, 14, Zeerah, 7, and Zayn, 2—are gifts. I’ve learned to enjoy and appreciate my time with them more, because I see just how precious life is.
Not long after Zayn’s birth, my husband’s niece lost her baby at seven months. She thought no one understood what she was going through, but I assured her that I did and encouraged her to have hope and move forward. We often spoke, and I sent her our SGI-USA publications to introduce her to Buddhism.
My husband’s niece was able to conceive again and gave birth to a son whom she also named Zayn, out of appreciation for my support. I definitely transformed my karma into mission.
My oldest child, Winston, who is in high school, attended the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival in Newark, New Jersey. When he returned, he said he felt confident that he could become a positive influence to brighten those around him, and show his friends how great Buddhism is. All my children and I chant and attend district activities together, including discussion meetings, which we often host at our home.
I look forward to our district meeting this month. Our youth have been joyfully leading our discussions every month, and by fostering many more young people in this way, we will ensure kosen-rufu and our happiness.
This Buddhism took me places that I never thought I could go. While fulfilling my dream as a mother to three beautiful children amd working full time, I’m also in school studying to be a family nurse practitioner.
I know that there is no set time to heal and that no child will ever take the place of the baby one loses, but we can always advance with hope and be victorious. Just as President Ikeda stated, I’ve changed my bitter tears into “glittering jewels of good fortune.”