A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis is a classic for good reason. I remember reading the first line, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” I sat back and said, “Yes, that’s it.” Other images he suggests, like being mildly drunk or “having a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me” also helped name a bit of the grief experience for me.
C. S. Lewis married Joy Davidman in 1956. She dies after only four years of marriage (after three years struggling with cancer). This book is Lewis’ journal through his difficult and inconsolable grief. In it we also read how this grief led to a crisis of faith for a man so identified with defending the Christian faith.
I resonated with his attempts to rationalize away his pain. ‘There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don’t really mind so much, not so very much at all. Love is not the whole of a man’s life. . . Come, I shan’t do so badly. Then comes a sudden jab of red hot memory and all this “common sense” vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace.’
In this interview Robert Banks (also someone who has lost a wife) discusses his appreciation of A Grief Observed.