After finishing C. S. Lewis’ autobiography, I was interested in reading more of his personal writings. I decided to next read A Grief Observed by Lewis, counting it as “a book written in the twentieth century” for the reading challenge.
C. S. Lewis married his wife, Joy, later in life and they enjoyed a profound, passionate marriage. Her death from cancer just four years after their union left him devastated. To cope, he began writing his thoughts in little notebooks he found around his home, which were compiled and published as A Grief Observed. It is an incredibly raw and honest book in which Lewis candidly shares his anger and doubts toward God in the midst of his grief. He was one of the great Christian apologists and academic minds of the twentieth century and a man that came to faith through logic and reason, yet even he struggled to reconcile what he believed about God with the painful loss of his wife. Lewis does not reach some amazing revelation through his journaling that resolves God’s goodness with the existence of grief in this world, but he does begin to emerge from the despair into a faith that is exactly that – belief without all the answers.
Though not having experienced the loss of my spouse, I found some of Lewis’ thoughts the same as my own in times of grief. It is a comfort to see that such a giant of the Christian faith struggled with the same things as me – a great reminder that no man is great on his own, we are all weak vessels of a mighty God who works through us. A Grief Observed is a fascinating peek inside the heart and mind of such an influential man. Not only is it a reassurance that those who have experienced loss are not alone in their struggle, but it is a doorway to empathy and understanding for those unfamiliar with sorrow and loss.