A Letter of Consolation by Henri J. M. Nouwen

By Henri J. M. Nouwen

Discovering religion in a Time of Sorrow liked writer Henri Nouwen displays at the religious value of loss of life and existence during this relocating meditation devoted to "all those that undergo the ache that demise can convey and who look for new life."

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Sample text

Mother’s death can bring us that freedom of which Bakels writes; it can make us deeply aware that her love was a reflection of a love that does not and cannot die—the love that we both will affirm again on Easter Sunday. 36 III In no way do I want to suggest that you have been repressing or denying your mortality. In fact, I know few people who have been so open about their own death. At different times you have spoken about your own death publicly and privately, to strangers and to friends, mockingly and seriously.

I am aware of the fact that the other extreme—living on as if one had never been married—can also be seen. But since that is not within the horizon of your capacities, I do not need to talk about that here. What is important for us to recognize is that mother’s own life invites us to see her death as a death that can bring us not only grief but also joy, not only pain but also healing, not only the experience of having lost but also the experience of having found. This viewpoint is not just my personal viewpoint as against the viewpoint of others.

In every arrival there is a leavetaking; in every reunion there is a separation; in each one’s growing up there is a growing old; in every smile there is a tear; and in every success there is a loss. All living is dying and all celebration is mortification too. Although this was happening all the time during our rich and varied lives, we did not notice it with the same acuteness as we do now. There was so much life, so much vitality, and so much 43 exuberance that the presence of death was less striking and was only acknowledged in the way we acknowledge our shadows on a sunny day.

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