Sunday, October 14, 2018

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

A Grief Observed
C. S. Lewis
Published 1961

Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.

A Grief Observed is a collection of short journals written by C.S. Lewis, soon after the death of his wife. She died of cancer in 1960.

I think it is a blessing that Lewis shared his experience. So many of people have or will have to deal with the heavy sadness of losing a loved one. I imagine recording one's emotions and thoughts is a constructive way to work out one's grief and all the questions that come with loss. This book may be a comfort to others.

Or maybe not. It was deeply honest and personal and often melancholy. Lewis was very plain about his doubts and grievances that he had with God.

The four short chapters evolved throughout Lewis' time of grief, while he recorded his experiences and observations. He described how his mind worked through the emotions.

At the start of his experience, Lewis described grief like being afraid. He compared the emotional grief to physical pain. He also expressed grief as a feeling of laziness. Near the end, he explained how grief felt like suspense because "it comes from the frustration of so many impulses that had become habitual."

He wondered if his marriage was too perfect, and that was why God intervened and took his wife. Or maybe their marriage "had reached its proper perfection," and God was now preparing him for his next mission. Either seemed plausible to him.

Lewis pondered much about marriage. Here is a part on marriage and the sexes that I found intriguing:
There is hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them. It is arrogance in us to call frankness, fairness, and chivalry 'masculine' when we see them in a an woman; it is arrogance in them to describe a man's sensitiveness or tact or tenderness as 'feminine.' But also what poor, warped fragments of humanity most mere men and mere women must be to make the implications of that arrogance plausible. Marriage heals this. Jointly the two become fully human. 'In the image of God created He them.' Thus, by a paradox, this carnival of sexuality leads us out beyond our sexes.
He did love and miss his wife dearly. In the end he said,
How wicked it would be, if we could, to call the dead back! She said not to me but to the chaplain, 'I am at peace with God.' She smiled, but not at me. Poi si tornĂ² all' eterna fontana. 
It appeared that Lewis may have come to tolerably peaceful terms with his grief.

IS THIS BOOK FOR YOU?

This is one book you do not want to miss from C.S. Lewis. It is exceptionally human and deeply touching. It is not only about grief and sadness and pain but also about love and marriage and life. If you are a new C.S. Lewis fan, or you are interested in reading other works by him, this is an essential one to read.

Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis

7 comments:

jillian said...

This is my favorite by Lewis. I'm currently reading Becoming Mrs. Lewis, a new novel just released through the eyes of his wife. (Your blog looks great. You changed it I think?) x

jillian said...

(Oh, my bad! You didn't change it. I just had my font size down by 40%. Usually I can't see your sidebar because your blog is much wider than my monitor screen.) :P

Sharon Wilfong said...

I have not read this book by Lewis and I have been meaning to for some time. I have often wondered why, after taking so many years to meet and finally marry, their time together was so short. But I remember that God is perfect in every way so He knows more than I.

And I've said it before, but I think this every time I visit your blog, I love your watercolor photo.

Ruth said...

Hi, Jillian. I just saw Becoming Mrs. Lewis for the first time, last night. I'd like to check that out, too.

I did change some things out on the blog...like the font. :D Maybe that made a difference on your screen.

Ruth said...

It is so hard to answer that question, as to why their time together was so short. I completely understood his grief and grievances. It is also more reason to cling to Him b/c of these things that are out of our control. It makes me think of the story of Joey and Rory Feek. After ten years of marriage, she finally agreed to have a baby. Soon as she had a baby, she learned she had cancer; she died after her baby turned a year old, I think. Like, why? You just can't answer it.

P.S. Thanks for the compliment! : )

Silvia said...

I relived my reading through your lovely review. It's a different Lewis, but a good one, yes.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Silvia. I really appreciated this from Lewis b/c I believe a lot of people can benefit from writing about their emotions, especially about loss. And then sharing it with others is very beneficial.