A Grief Observed
|by C.S. Lewis|
|The preface to my version of A Grief Observed contains an introduction by the son of C. S. Lewis which explains the origins of this brief four-chapter book. C. S. Lewis was not a stranger to pain. He has lost his mother at age nine. Friends had been lost to him over the years, some in battle during World War I or due to sickness.
A Grief Observed focuses on his emotional angst after the death of his wife, whom he had spent the last weeks of her life constantly caring for. The notebooks he filled were never intended for the public. However, upon reading them later, Lewis felt they might serve of help of others in their time of mourning and so he published them.
In Chapter One, Lewis describes what grief feels like. It can make one lazy, in that one loathes the slightest effort. Grief can also make one start questioning God, perhaps not His existence but his character instead. Lewis also shares how he feels indecent if he talks to the children about their mother. He even feels an embarrassment to people in general that he meets on the street, at work, and in the pub. No one knows how to approach him. Nor does Lewis know how to talk to others. Finally, he shares how he fears going to places that Helen and him had been happy.
In Chapter Two, Lewis focuses on his wife. He talks about how time is causing his images and memories of her to fade. Lewis also talks about the finality of death. Even if he could onto the sensation of her presence, it would never actually make her alive again. Lewis also shares what others have said to comfort him such as “She is with God” or “She is in God’s hands.” None of these well-intended expressions bring him any relief for Lewis is in pain. He even wonders whether it is rational to believe in a bad or sadistic God.
In Chapters Three and Four, Lewis starts to feel better. This does not mean Lewis is “getting over” the death of his wife. He provides an analogy of a man who gets his leg cut off. After the operation, the wound will heal and the pain will stop. The injured man will even find himself about to walk about again, but in a different fashion. While there will be moments that he will forget about his loss, he will never be without it. His whole way of life has been changed. In parallel, Lewis finally finds himself about to revisit old haunts and even find happiness in them. He starts to consider why God might have allowed Helen to die and how Lewis should now react. Lewis still needs his wife with him, but he also still needs God, and so now he needs to figure out how to move forward.
Lewis doesn’t offer easy answers to grief or to faith. Rather, he recognizes that both are difficult to reconcile. For that reason, I appreciated A Grief Observed the first time I encountered it and again recently when I reread it.
|Sunday, September 07, 2014 10:32:33 PM ahunter|