A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis is without a shadow of a doubt one of the absolute most heart-wrenching yet lovingly and beautifully written pieces of nonfiction literature I have ever read in my brief thirty-eight years of life. This book moved me beyond words. I read it once on Sunday night and again last night. I cannot and will not even attempt to convey the love that this man felt for his wife. I will make even less of an attempt to explain the pain that afflicted him during her battle with cancer and her inexorable demise. I’ll let his own words speak for themselves. I started highlighting a section here and there when suddenly I noticed I might as well have highlighted the book in its entirety. C.S. Lewis was a wordsmith like no other; a maestro composing by way of paper and pen the sweetest literary symphony of feelings, thoughts, frustrations, agonies, fears, sorrows, joys and loving memories that ultimately and unintentionally ended in the most endearing of all eulogies.
His thoughts were initially meant to be his private lamentations over the death of his beloved wife…his private outpouring. He wrote as a means to somehow release his quiet and personal suffering so as not to disturb or inconvenience anyone with his hardship.
So much of this book, if not all of it, is simply exquisite. (Enough said. I could very well end the review right here…buuuuut I won’t!)
Though the British are typically perceived as being unflappable, glutted or dispassionate, I have found the complete opposite to be true. Beatrix Potter, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, William Shakespeare and George Orwell are just some of my favorite authors; all ebullient and sensitive British authors! C.S. Lewis proves that in something as basic as his own personal journal. He wasn’t even attempting to be a great writer when he was writing down his most personal thoughts. He just simply was that good. He was that eloquent. He was that articulate. He was that brilliant!
C.S. Lewis was a deeply religious man. But he was also all too human. During the hardest trial of his life, his faith was tested. After watching his wife struggle for so many years with bone cancer only to painfully lose her battle shortly after they were married, C.S. Lewis reconsidered his belief in a benevolent and impeccant God. “Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be – or so it feels – welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.”
He questions God and his faith throughout the book. In the end, he finds what he feels is a proper answer or solution to his religious plight in spite of the fact that no matter how he feels about Him, he will never regain his great love.
As I mentioned earlier, I loved everything about this book. But the one auspicious treasure that I enjoyed the most while reading it was discovering how incredibly quixotic our dear C.S. Lewis was! I never thought him a particularly tender man much less lachrymose, rapturous and romantic. But I stand corrected. He most certainly was a passionate romantic! “There is one place where her absence comes locally home to me, and it is a place I can’t avoid. I mean my own body. It had such a different importance while it was the body of H.’s lover. Now it’s like an empty house.”
This book is beautiful. I gave it five (5) stars on Goodreads. I highly highly highly recommend it to anyone struggling with grief and their faith. But I also recommend it to all men out there that are in need of a pointer or two on how to show a woman she’s genuinely loved. And I recommend it to all women out there that aren’t sure what love should feel and look like because of the blurry view obstructed by their insecurities (myself included). Enjoy!