Friday, June 10, 2011

Thoughts on Grief

I recently finished a short book by C.S. Lewis called A Grief Observed. It includes some of his thoughts as he is mourning the death of his beloved wife. Grief is something none of us can escape--we all lose loved ones and mourn their absence. Sometimes our family members live a long life and sometimes their lives are cut tragically short through accidents or illness. Regardless of the circumstances, our hearts are broken to be separated from the ones we love. I loved a few of the passages from the book:

p. 21  "You never know how much you believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you trusted it?"

p. 43  "Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous. To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he's had his leg off it is quite another. After that operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he'll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has 'got over it'. But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man. There will hardly be any moment when he forgets it. Bathing, dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed will all be different. His whole way of life will be changed. All sorts of pleasures and activities that he once took for granted will simply have to be written off. Duties too. At present I am learning to get about on crutches. Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I shall never be a biped again."

p. 47  "Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape... 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."

When I read Lewis' writings, I feel like he has a grasp of pure truth.


Fame said...

I feel the same way- reading him is always so enlightening :) i'll have to grab this one.

Jennifer said...

This book was a wonderful help to me when I lost my sister...

I particularly like his reference to grief being like a spiral:

`…in grief nothing stays put. One keeps 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? (CS LEWIS)