Review: A Grief Observed

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know why I put off reading this book for so long. The intensity of the subject of grief is something that both calls me closer and repels me. But I’m so glad I read this book, most of it in one sitting. I’m really glad I read the foreword by Madeleine L’Engle and the Introduction by Jack’s stepson, Douglas Gresham.

So many books about grief are written to give the bereaved something to do. Ten steps to take, stages to watch out for, prayers to pray, or other well-intentioned advisories. This is not that kind of book. Lewis takes us on a journey of grief, not hiding the times when he later admitted he was wrong. He doesn’t edit in such a way that we miss the flow of his feelings at the loss of his beloved wife. In the intimate confessions of trying to make sense of the pain of loss, Lewis invites us into his private world. There, those who have suffered the death of a loved one will find a companion along the way.

In the intertwined reflections of grief, Lewis grapples with the reality of God and how difficult it is to make sense of a Good God when suffering immense pain. I appreciated these reflections and that he did not run away from them as a Christian writer and philosopher.

I would recommend this book to those unafraid to explore their own feelings about grief, knowing that there are no answers. There are no magic good deeds and no clear path forward that alleviate the pain of loss. Lewis is much too honest to approach grief in that way.

The opening words of his book are well known:

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.”

Thus begins an expression of grief that is both in depth, and succinct.

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