Sunday, February 20, 2011

"A Grief Observed" by C. S Lewis

Published: 1961
Read: 2011
Genre: memoir
Rating: 4
Review: Goodreads

This has been on my list of books to read for quite a while, really since Josh died almost two year ago.  I received a comment on a previous post that it was a most helpful book.  So I finally got it at the library and read it in one night - while in a hotel, traveling for work.

When C.S. Lewis' beloved wife, "H" died, he poured out his feelings in a journal which is the content of this short but powerful book.  The pain, grief, sorrow, and despair radiates from the pages.  Although his experience is of spousal loss, the use of analogies to describe his deep feelings, apply to other losses such as mine.

Analogies of loss/grief:
Getting over the loss of a loved one is like getting over the loss of a limb - it will never happen.  See this post from Josh's blog for the quote and my thoughts.

Grief like a spiral:
"For in grief nothing 'stays put.' One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs.  Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?  But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?" 
Grief like a long valley:
"Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.  As I've already noted, not every bend does.  Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn't a circular trench.  But it isn't.  There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn't repeat."
My thoughts:
I agree.  Along these lines, I've likened grief to being on a journey, unwelcome but necessary.  To delay or deny the journey, however difficult, will only bring harm (see this post for more thoughts).

I've also thought about grief being like an archery target with the center bulls-eye surrounded by concentric circles.  If THE LOSS is the center and the circles are various points in time, clearly even 3, 4 or 5 years after the death does not move the bereaved very far from the middle.  In other words, time does not distance someone from their loss as quickly as one might think.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, it will soon be two years since our son died.  In some ways, it feels like forever; sometimes, like yesterday.  Either way, his absence is louder than his presence ever was.  And I don't see this diminishing any time soon.

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