Monday, September 15, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 43 -- A Grief Observed

by C.S. Lewis

Started: Sept. 15
Finished: Sept. 15

Notes: As I've already read this author's The Problem of Pain, it is time for A Grief Observed, a more personal look at suffering after Lewis lost his wife.

Mini review: Each individual's grief is different. I cannot with clear conscious say even to another widower, "I know what you're going through," because it's not true. I know what I've gone through, what I continue to go through, but I can't say the same of someone else. Even here. From what I know of this book and other information I've gathered about Lewis, his wife's death and their lives together were similar in a lot of ways to mine with my wife, though we never had children. But my grief experiences have been quite a bit different than those Lewis experienced. Or, at least, mine have been so far, and with my wife having passed away a little more than four months ago, it seems Lewis was writing during about the same period with his own grief. Lewis suffered something of existential turmoil, while for the most part I have not; if anything, I generally feel stronger spiritually instead of questioning the futility of everything. Maybe it was because I was and am generally a more skeptical and cynical person than Lewis happened to be, that I had already faced the darker elements of life while he had not. But that is mere speculation. In all his writings, Lewis seems fairly forthright, so I don't want to speak for him. As I said, each person's grief is different. On the flip side of this, he did eventually come out of his "funk" and came to something of a spiritual awakening, not completely unlike my own, though also not exactly the same. In this book I saw a lot that was familiar, other things not so familiar but which I could relate, and a few smatterings of things which were quite alien to me. That's to be expected with grief. All that being said, I would not necessarily suggest this book for everyone who is going through a grief process, especially those who have lost a spouse or child. I would, however, suggest this book for those who are Christian or have Judeo-Christian inclinations; others might not find comfort here, but actually might find details which could frustrate or even anger them. To each their own, as I'm not here to judge anyone's beliefs or lack of, but I do wish success to anyone dealing with grief and I believe this book could be helpful to some and of interest to even others.

2 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Not much use in being angered over someone else's response to grief. As you say, a truly unique experience for everyone, although there are commonalities.

Tough verification today. This is my fourth try at it.

Ty Johnston said...

Yeah, Charles, I've seen a lot of anger in some widows and widowers in how others have responded to them, even family and friends. It's not something I've experienced, at least not yet, but I realize other people simply don't know what to do or what to say. Even those who have been through a similar experience, they know there's nothing that can be said or done that truly eases the pain.