by C. S. Lewis
“A Grief Observed” is an excellent book about those who have lost a loved one. C. S. Lewis is the author of this impressive book. A Grief Observed treats the reader to a very personal side of C.S. Lewis, a very intellectual man, whose books are otherwise so rational, they do not reveal this more personal side. The loss of his wife caused him to reflect back on his life, especially his faith, which in this journal, written during the days after her death, he questioned. Lewis, a confirmed intellectual bachelor, almost comically stumbled into a deeply romantic and erotic marriage late in life. An American poet, Joy Davidman, while visiting him in England is stricken with breast cancer. Her visa expired and she faced a mindlessly bureaucratic forced expulsion which probably would have killed her. Lewis agreed to what he expected to be a marriage of convenience, giving her a right to stay in England long enough to die peaceably. Unaccountably, almost impishly, she recovered and they became man and wife in fact and not just pro forma. Lewis is delighted, swept away and overwhelmed; he became radiantly happy. This brief moment of joy is snatched from him, however, as cancer reasserted itself.
Lewis poured out his profound grief at the death of his wife on paper, sharing his thoughts, feelings, longings in a journal that became A Grief Observed. Unlike some of his other works, which are witty, philosophical, almost whimsical at times, this book is deeply personal and profoundly painful, almost raw in its emotional intensity. It is also a deep testament to Lewis’s faith. Like all humanity, he faced loss and suffering and death. Lewis, like Job, transforms is somehow able to hand over all this darkness to the Lord in an act of sheer faith. In A Grief Observed Lewis records his intense struggles with the fundamental questions of faith, love, grief, and the purpose of life. It’s clear that Lewis opened his heart into these notebook entries; the pages are loaded with spiritual candor and emotional depth. “Grief is like a long valley,” Lewis notes at one point, “a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” We’re taken on that journey with Lewis as he shares many landscapes during the different contemplative seasons of his soul. We strongly recommend this to anyone who has recently lost a loved one.