A Grief Observed

Below are various C.S. Lewis quotes from his book A Grief Observed that I tore apart and stitched back together in such a way that benefits me and my current circumstance. I wish that I could take credit for his beautiful words, but I can’t.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments where the house in empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.

There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don’t really mind so much, not so very much, after all…”

Here, C.S. Lewis absolutely nails the thoughts and feelings that often tag along with grief. Unfortunately, all human relationships end in pain (namely, through death). This is the privilege of love in our fallen world. “It is hard to have patience with people who say, ‘There is no death’ or ‘death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter.” But anything that has been made with love will never be abandoned. “Love does not create, and then annihilate…”

I never felt closer with the strength of God’s presence than I did the months following my mother’s death. But before reaching this point “I not only lived each endless day in grief, but lived each day thinking about living each day in grief.” “It (grief) gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn’t seem worth starting anything. I can’t settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness.” If I had really cared about the sorrows of the world, I wouldn’t have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrows came.

“I had wanted her back as an ingredient in the restoration of my past. Could I have wished her anything worse? Having gone once through death, to come back and then, at some later date, have all her dying to do over again?”

“What does it matter how this grief of mine evolves or what I do with it? What does it matter how I remember her or whether I remember her at all? None of these alternatives will either ease or aggravate her past anguish…”

“But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was  complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possible inflict or permit them if they weren’t…”

Through this experience (my mother’s death), “God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t…” C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

2 thoughts on “A Grief Observed

  1. One of the greatest books, greatest journals, on grief and faith. I read it multiple times 5 years ago in 2010, when a close friend died on Thanksgiving and another died on Christmas. Journaled, prayed, questioned, raged, doubted, believed, read Job, read Lewis, timidly talked to people (some of whom knew grief, some of whom had no understanding), and learned how to live again.
    You’re in good company with the scriptures and Professor Lewis. Someday you should see Shadowlands (with Anthony Hopkins) and Through the Shadowlands (BBC version) about CSLewis and Joy Gresham.

    Liked by 1 person

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