I had written an article the other day titled: ‘No Name’. I stand corrected, humbly. Another grieving Momma, Pam Harper, graciously enlightened me. There is a word that has been used for a Bereaved Parent. It is not widely known, but perhaps we can change that.

The word: Vilomah comes from an ancient language called: Sanskrit. It is an official language of India and is currently only used for religious purposes. It is found in the Vedas which are the oldest ‘scriptures’ of Hinduism. This is similar to how our Christian Scriptures were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.  It is ‘one of the oldest Indo-European languages for which substantial written documentation exists’. Duke Professor Karla Holloway did some research awhile ago and came upon the discovery of this word. Sanskrit seems to date back to 400 B.C.. The Ancient Hebrew is a Semitic language that dates back past 1500 B.C..

Before some turn away, please consider that the word: Widow is also a Sanskrit word which means: ‘Empty’. Vilomah means: ‘Against the Natural Order’. If one does not have a problem with using the word: ‘Widow’, will they with using the word: ‘Vilomah’? Both words share the same etymology. Before discarding it too quickly, try saying it out loud periodically. In other words, try it on for size. ‘Taste it’ before saying you don’t like it. Vilomah: ‘As in, the grey-haired should not bury those with black hair. As in our children should not precede us in death. If they do, we are vilomahed.’ (Holloway).

In 2014, there was a musical Play entitled: Vilomah. It is a story about Susan Owen.

‘Wilfred Owen is widely regarded as the greatest war poet of all time, but not many know that the greatest influence on his writing came from his mother Susan.

Susan nurtured her son’s talent with an unflinching belief in his destiny as a great poet. When he was killed in the last week of World War One, her grief was insurmountable. She spent the rest of her life dedicated to achieving a wider audience for his then little-known work, staunchly protective of his legacy.

But Susan Owen was just one of millions of mothers that had to share the sense of loss of losing cherished offspring during WW1. Wilfred had been awarded The Military Cross, and Susan wore this token of acknowledgement of his bravery around her neck until her dying day. Wilfred Owen himself made the prophecy that “all a poet could do is warn,” and now one hundred years later, Vilomah makes the same warning.

In English, there is a word for the person who has lost a spouse, or a child that has lost a parent, but to find a word for a parent that has suffered the loss of a child; we turn to the ancient Sanskrit for the word “Vilomah”. The literal translation is, “against the natural order.”’ (Dean Johnson, Playwright).

This has a very special personal and profound affect upon me. I recently published my Book: ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ for three main reasons. First, I wanted to give Glory to God and His Redemption throughout my life after numerous encounters with different types of abuse, and because of my son’s demise. The second driving force was getting my son’s poems published. I had waited 18 years to honor him in this manner. Though I was directed by a young man in the music industry years ago to have them copyrighted, I prayed for more. Over the years I had submitted them to a few artists, but they were inclined to only use their original material. I knocked on a number of doors, but none opened. When I felt God leading me to write this book, I knew it was the answer to my prayers in not only honoring Him, but also in honoring my son. The third was simply to share my Testimony before my own demise for:

Revelation 12: (KJV)

11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

I am a Vilomah! The ‘coincidence’ of a play being written with this word as its title, and it being about a woman whose son was killed that happened to be a great Poet, is having an overwhelming emotional impact upon me as I write this. Thank you, Pam Harper, so very very much!!!


(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon PressAmazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers:,jude-gibbs-9781498496728   Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’:

Also, see a more complete list at: Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))



2 thoughts on “Vilomah

  1. I found the timing of this post very interesting for me personally. I was at a men and boys campout with my church this last Friday and was visiting around the fire with one of our pastors. He’s roughly my age and we’ve undertaken a lot of ministry and recreation together, but we hadn’t really had a chance to sit and talk about our journey through infant loss yet, and so he was asking me a lot of the questions that people usually feel too comfortable to ask.

    As we were talking, one of the statements I made was that people who have not been through it will always have a hard time relating because it is such a unique experience and it is one that may get easier with time, but never goes away. His response was, “Well yeah, it just goes against the natural order of things when a child dies before the parent.”

    I don’t know that I will start calling myself a Vilomah, but it is a pinpointedly accurate descriptor.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The word is awkward, no doubt. But then, most ‘new’ words are though this has been around over 2K yrs. I have learned to change my vocabulary on a few things. I never liked the word: miscarry…It was as if I personally had done something wrong…I ‘Mis-carried’ my child therefore he/she died. I now use ‘pregnancy loss’. The term: ‘committed suicide’ makes it sound like a criminal act. i now say: ‘death by suicide’ after a Momma pointed this out to me. Personally, I’m working on using this word more often. I have also changed ‘stillborn’ to ‘born still’. The more Vilomah is used, the more it is heard, the less ‘foreign’ it becomes. I practice saying it out loud, periodically. I had emailed two linguistic experts for proper pronunciation, but have not rec’d a reply. (((HUGS))) When I am trying to incorporate the word in my mind..I think of ‘viola’ and ‘ma’. It is the ‘music’ of the ‘out of order’ and unnatural for a Bereaved Mom. Not sure how a Dad would process it, though.

    Liked by 2 people

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