More About this Book

This short book (96 pages) was first written by Nouwen over the course of twelve days as a letter to his father six months after the death of his mother.  The letter was written during the period of Lent and Easter of 1979 while Nouwen was on his second sabbatical at The Abbey of the Genesee, a Trappist monastery.  Three years later he decided to publish the letter believing that the “fruits” of his grief should be “tasted” by others.  In the letter he explores the meaning of his mother’s death for his life and that of his father, particularly as Christians.  While a very personal book with many biographical details about the Nouwen family, the themes it considers will be consoling to anyone who has lost someone they love.

Themes: Death and Dying, Loss, Letter writing, Consolation, Befriending death, Confrontation, Mortification (‘making death’), Powerlessness, Detachment, Illusion of Immortality, Jesus, The Eucharist, Joyful waiting, Lent, Easter

Harper & Row, 1982

Praise for "A Letter of Consolation"

"Nouwen explores death itself, hope in Christ, the unexpected fruits that can follow the death of a beloved, and how the Christian’s life is shaped by Good Friday and Easter. Personal. Poignant. Beautiful."
"Nouwen's gentle spirit and thoughtful way are a light in darkness in this letter to his father after the death of Henri's mother. I think this is a book to return to in times of loss."
"Every time I read something by Nouwen, I feel like I am his biggest fangirl ever. Highly recommended for anyone who is a follower of Christ who wants to understand death or grief more."

Help share Nouwen’s spiritual vision

When you give to the Henri Nouwen Society, you join us in offering inspiration, comfort, and hope to people around the world. Thank you for your generosity and partnership!

Donate Today