John Manley on Stillbirths, Suicide and Reincarnation

John Manley

After years of grieving for his stillborn daughter, my friend John Manley, an author of metaphysical speculative fiction, stumbled upon a concept that at last healed his pain and brought him peace. Whether you agree with his conclusion or not is beside the point. What is important is to find a spiritual or religious path that feels like home to you, and actively work toward crafting a worldview that helps you make sense of the world.

Here, in three parts and in John’s own words, is his story.


On Easter Monday, 2005, around 9 AM, I received a phone call. “Mr. Manley, your wife is going in for an emergency c-section…”

It was too soon. Months too soon.

The hospital (where Nicole had already been admitted) was over 45 minutes away. By the time I arrived, it was all over. All efforts at resuscitating our newborn baby girl had been fruitless.

I’ve never been more upset over anything in my life.

Nicole and I went through a number of child loss books. Most of them too bloated for my liking and often off the mark from how I believe the universe operates. But one of those books, however, noted a survey that said that parents who believe in reincarnation recover far more quickly from the loss of their children.

Reincarnation, for me, has always been, not only the most, but the only logical answer to why so many seeming “injustices” happen in this world. Without reincarnation I would likely be an agnostic. How else can you justify what the Nazis did to babies in the Holocaust? (Or North American and British soldiers to Iraqi children, for that matter…)

Karma is still, nonetheless, a harsh universal law. But at least it brings logic to one of life’s greatest mystery: Why do innocent people suffer? Especially children.

But, still… I remember arriving at the hospital. Nicole was still under sedation. The staff had dressed Skye in handmade baby clothes and wrapped her in a receiving blanket. She was still warm. I remember thinking, What could she possibly have done to deserve this? And why us?

For years that question has been in my head.

The other day I got my answer.


It took a while before my wife, Nicole, came out of the general anesthetic. As soon as she saw me she asked, “How is he?”

“It’s a she,” I said. Through our faulty intuitive abilities we had already concluded we were going to have a boy.

Nicole looked confused. They had her drugged up on morphine. “Is she hooked up to machines?”

“No,” I said with a long pause. “She couldn’t stay.” We both started to cry. For a long time.

And we kept asking ourselves what past-life actions did the soul of our stillborn baby commit that merited this… Not finding an answer, I resolved myself to having faith in the way God operates the universe.

Fast-forward four years…. The other day I came across a web page by accident. It mentioned, very briefly, a Vedic explanation for stillborn babies: Stillbirth was the karmic consequence of committing suicide in a past life.

The concept snapped perfectly into the puzzle of our daughter’s death. Suicide. It fits. At least for me. I immediately felt great relief inside my heart.

Many religions consider suicide a greater sin than murder. In Hinduism they call suicide atmahatya (the murder of the Self or Soul). A human incarnation is considered one of the greatest gifts — only obtained after millions of incarnations as minerals, plants and animals.

I interpret the law of karma as simply saying that you are the creator of your own destiny. If someone chooses to give up life in a human body… then it becomes very hard to be reborn. Fair enough. A soul who committed suicide may go through several rebirths in stillborn and aborted babies before they are finally born. And, even then, they may face childhood diseases and illnesses.

Tomorrow, I’ll share why this realization has filled me with gratitude that God sent such a soul to us. It’s freed me of so much resentment over the experience of holding my lifeless baby girl in my arms.


I now believe the soul of our stillborn baby girl committed suicide in a previous life. Realizing this, my resentment has turned into gratitude.

If our child’s soul had committed suicide in a previous life — she was obviously in need of help. God sent her to us to help her. What a privilege to be chosen for such a task.

The doctors had said that Nicole’s chances of getting pregnant were about as good as us setting up a cheese factory on Pluto. So when she found out she had a baby growing inside her for the last three months, she was ecstatic. That feeling must have rubbed on Skye’s troubled soul.

Furthermore, the doctors immediately advised us to have an abortion. They said that carrying a child would destroy what function was left of Nicole’s failing kidneys.

Nicole didn’t even consider abortion an option. Even when she became so sick she could barely get out of the hospital bed. She was willing to risk everything so Skye could have life. Just think what kind of positive effect that would have on a soul who committed suicide.

And then when Nicole’s body couldn’t keep Skye’s heart beating any longer… The hospital staff spared no expense, time or energy to try and save her.

Later we rented a church and had a memorial service. We were shocked by how many friends, family and neighbours attended. Some travelling 2-3 hours. They brought gifts, one friend wrote a song, another drew a picture, another made a keepsake box. All for a child they never met, who died before she was born. That type of positive vibration must have rubbed off on Skye’s soul.

And the final piece of the puzzle… Before we moved out of Toronto, Nicole used to be a counselor for people who lost loved ones to… yes, you guessed it… suicide. You see, Nicole was bedridden during the pregnancy. She had nothing else to do but talk to Skye and send her love — unknowingly “counseling” an actual suicide victim.

Click here to read my earlier post on how John and Nicole met and a chilling story on how intuition helped John save his wife and son.

Click here to see all my posts about suicide prevention.


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4 Responses to “John Manley on Stillbirths, Suicide and Reincarnation”

  1. Doc Robby Says:

    Thank you for sharing this remarkable story about the lessons and gratitude you learned through the painful experience of having a stillborn baby. What a loving place the Universe must be to choose exactly the right parents who could give the exact right love to a Soul who needed to heal from the act of suicide in another life. The knowledge of karma and reincarnation is a precious tool that is as much hard won as it is a gift of grace given by Spirit. This knowledge can be so helpful in our spiritual unfoldment. There is so much love shines through your story! Thank you again…

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    I will make sure that John sees your loving note, Doc.

  3. Jessica Says:

    I’m happy that this philosophy brings comfort to you, but my little girl was not born sleeping because she killed herself in another life. When I lost my daughter, I heard a very calm voice tell me that her heart stopped beating. And the next day at my ultrasound it was confirmed. After I had her and held her, I went home and had a dream that I was in , not really heaven, but maybe a special spot for children in heaven to play? And there she was. Beautiful and maybe about four years old and talking to a blonde hair little boy. I was able to talk to her and tell her how much I loved her before waking up… three months later, I became pregnant… with my now 4 year old blonde hair little boy. She went back to heaven so my son could be here. Souls make plans with other souls. They aren’t being punished.

  4. Phil Bolsta Says:

    I’m very happy to hear you now have a beautiful little boy, Jessica. I don’t interpret the philosophy presented by John in this post as an ironclad explanation for all stillbirths. It’s just one possibility. The biggest takeaway here is that karma has nothing to do with being punished. Karma is not positive or negative; it is simply cause and effect, with no judgment rendered.

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