In a collection of letters by Henri Nouwen, I came upon this one that he wrote following the death of his mother:
OCTOBER 25, 1978
A few days ago I returned from Holland, where I buried my mother. Only five weeks ago she was with me in New Haven. She returned four days afterwards with my Father after the internist had discovered a tumor which caused the jaundice. Two weeks later she was operated on, a week after that she died. I am still in a daze. Everything seems different to me and I am slowly rediscovering the world which she loved so much. She has been so much part of my life that I have to do some real relearning. I am spending a still week at a retreat center trying to let my mother’s death reform me and lead me to new fields. It is all very intimate and very deep, very sad and very joyful, very beautiful and very painful. I am trying to write a little bit about these last few weeks, but I am still too close to all that has happened to do it well and with the necessary peace of mind. But I keep trying. It seems at this moment my way of letting her spirit come to me. I am still somewhere between Easter and Pentecost not knowing what really has happened. Keep me in your prayers and pray for her. Nobody has ever been as close to me as she was and never did I lose anyone whom I loved so deeply. Somewhere life needs to be rediscovered. But I am sure that her death will mean many new births for me.
The deep spiritual writer strikes upon the phenomenon of “everything seems different to me” after the death of a loved one.
A friend of mine recently expressed the same insight and, upon having lost someone close to her said, “The world seems different now.”
There is a saying, “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”
This is because each person, each soul is a cosmion, a little world.
When someone dies, part of the tragic dimension is that the world seems to go on normally around us, in certain ways, although nothing happened.
To mourn with those who mourn is to lament the loss of a entire little world.