It seems a little odd, even almost spooky. The title of my forthcoming memoir, that is.

The World Looks Different Now.

As I gazed down at the cover of one of my advance reader copies, I could feel myself starting to shake.

Suddenly my title, printed in white on a black background, seemed ominous in a way it hadn’t before.

How had I chosen something so eerily predictive of the coronavirus pandemic?

Needless to say, I knew nothing of the virus when the title sprang, fully formed, into my head, even though now I often think that perhaps it should have been reserved for one of the countless volumes about the pandemic that are undoubtedly—even as I write this—in the process of being penned.

I’d spent months—no, years—brainstorming and making lists and shuffling around words in seemingly endless combinations. And yet nothing had ever seemed right. After a while I started thinking that if I couldn’t come up with a title then maybe I shouldn’t be publishing this book at all. 

And then one day it hit me.

The World Looks Different Now. 

It was a title so perfect that even my publisher—who hadn’t really liked any of my other suggestions—immediately said yes.

For me the phrase The World Looks Different Now captures in a metaphorical as well as a practical sense what happens when you lose a close loved one. Your perspective is forever altered, causing the world to appear subtly, if radically, changed, even as it continues on—at least for others—more or less as it did before.

If nothing else, the title hints at just how easily our world can be transformed—or split, if you like—into “before” and “after.”

The title is also fitting in that it alludes to an actual incident near the end of the book that takes me out of my grief, causing me to literally see the world from a new—and surprisingly different—angle.

The idea of one’s perspective changing as a result of grief is hardly new. It’s even been set forth as a formal theory by more than one psychologist. Simply put, loss and grief can—and often do—shatter the world as we’ve always known it, thus requiring us to create a new world built on an entirely new set of assumptions. We find ourselves rebuilding as a way—perhaps the only way—of moving forward, even though the “rebuilding” process is, of course, easier said than done.

Mine is a book about a singular loss. A loss, it’s often said, that parents, in particular, fear above all others. But loss can be of the collective variety as well, which is what the vast majority of us have experienced—and are continuing to experience—as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Loss of freedom, loss of security, loss of what we’d always thought was a guaranteed way of life.

The title The World Looks Different Now is meant to suggest that as a result of loss, whether of the singular or collective variety, we often find ourselves wrenched out of our old world and into a new, if unrecognizable, one that se must learn to make sense of as best we can.