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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
michael cargill cargill
Bought to equip myself to better care for grieving best friend. It was rich with those opportunities. C.S. Lewis is honest with God and his reader and both are insightful and valuable. Highly recommend the book!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer van alstyne
A Grief Observed is very honest & open. It is Lewis' journey of coming to terms with the death of his wife. Lewis wrestles with God over the pain that he is enduring.
The book is short. I read the entire book in one sitting. I think anyone who has ever honestly questioned God about a major loss in ones life would be encouraged by reading this small book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cyndie
Book arrived quickly and in good condition! An excellent read for someone grieving a loved one. Grief takes a long time but when you are ready, it is good to hear from C.S. Lewis who has gone through the loss of a loved one.
First Ever Full-cast Dramatization of the Diabolical Classic (Radio Theatre) :: Taming the Vampire (Blood and Absinthe Book 1) :: Bound by Flames: A Night Prince Novel :: Moonshadow (Moonshadow Book 1) :: The True Story of the Vatican's Secret Search - The Fisherman's Tomb
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
garrick thompson
Lewis is probably the greatest writer. Usually he expands your mind but here he goes directly to the soul. This book reaches beyond the mind and you experience the grief, anger and love. For our degree of pain is set by our degree of love. Your loss oh God is our gain! From death comes life.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kathi jenness
Grief is different for all; i can't understand why. I once met a widower looking for a new wife after only three months while others never look again. Mr Lewis was lost in his own grief as the title infers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chris cain
I am in the process of working thru grief and this book put into words what I often feel and yet am unable to express.It isn't a big book, thin but full of introspection; doesn't take up much room on my nightstand. I read it in brief visits.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
liz freirich
This book is too intellectual for me. I had difficulty understanding the point of the author's dilemma. And I speak from the voice of recent experience. Someone else may have an entirely different view and I would be interested in reading it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anne schmitt
This is not any easy read, but it is a good book for someone who has lost a spouse. I think it is important to read it first and make sure it is right. Not everyone would respond well. I think it is an incredibly honest account of the grief process.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
daniel mongeluzi
Lewis does a insightful description of his experience with his grief after his wife died. Anyone dealing with grief will find some parts of this book profoundly helpful. But they may find other parts irrelevant. Still it is good reading and helps one to understand that they are neither alone or crazy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alex tell
My small group didn't like it, they wondered how he could "doubt his faith." They were not able to make the leap that withstanding times of trial and doubt make us stronger. I think perhaps it would work better with a group where more trust has been established - so that folks are more able to share openly without fear.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
salah
I know I will keep this one for the rest of my life. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because there were annotations. Most of the time, this has not been the case when I've bought used books.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
scott hall
This book came very highly recommended, but I didn't find it to be as cathartic for me as many others have. But that's the nature of grief - every grief is different, so I'm not surprised that I would react differently to this than some people did. Many of Lewis' observations about his own grief resonated with me, but I had a hard time dealing with some others that were contradictory to my own beliefs. It is, however, a quick read, and if nothing else, is a useful study of how grief affects us all individually.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
omar helal
Very helpful for me. This book helped me not feel crazy bcuz of my grief and I found it extremely relatable and easy to understand. I wrote notes in it and I bought more than one. Is a good gift for others and means more than flowers!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tiffany mcelmurry
Too many references to god for anyone who might not be into that stuff, but done in a meaningful and philosophical way. Good book, definitely worth reading for some very deep helpful thoughts on grief and loss.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alyssa mccollum
Anyone that is grieving in any way or is walking with someone who is grieving should read this book. Lewis shares all the emotions, thoughts and questions that he experienced as he was grieving but also the journey God brought him through. Very honest and real. Helps you realize you are not alone or crazy for all that goes through your mind. Validates the very difficult, painful journey that loss of any kind is.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
vernika singla
I read years ago the Screwtape Letters which was very informative and great regarding the works of Satan in our lives and so true. This book has many pearls of wisdom and insight and very relevant regarding processes we go through when losing someone we love.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
emma mekinda
C. S. Lewis was a man with a passion for thoughtful words. Having read parts of this book in Lewises compilation, "A Year With C. S. Lewis" coupled with a family death at a young age. We could feel his emotion and shared in his and our grief.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
celeste stefaisk
THIS WAS A DIFFICULT READ, BECAUSE I HAD A GOOD FRIEND WHO LOST HIS WIFE OF 37 YEARS TO OVARIAN CANCER, AND I WITNESSED HIS GOING-THROUGH SOME OF THE SAME THINGS AS C.S.LEWIS. I APPLAUD HIS ABILITY TO DESCRIBE THE EFFECTS OF HIS GRIEF, ESPECIALLY, BECAUSE, I CAN TELL HE IS A VERY PRIVATE PERSON... AND GRIEF IS A SUCH AN INTENSELY PRIVATE EMOTION... SO TO HAVE SHARED HIS GRIEF JOURNEY WAS TRULY A GENEROUS GIFT. MY REASON FOR GIVING IT 4 STARS INSTEAD OF 5 IS THAT; I FELT DISAPPOINTED W/ THE END, AS IF NOT ENOUGH TIME HAD LAPSED W/ THE GRIEF TO BE DESCRIBED MORE FROM A DISTANCE... AT THE SAME TIME, I CAN UNDERSTAND THAT HE MAY HAVE JUST NEEDED TO FEEL FINISHED W/ THE BOOK, AND PUT IT AWAY. I GAVE THE BOOK TO MY FRIEND, AND HE SAID IT HELPED IN THE WAY HE COULD IDENTIFY W/ SOME OF THE SAME FEELINGS... SO, IT ALLOWED HIM TO FEEL MORE JUSTIFIED W/ HIS FEELINGS... AND, NOT SO MUCH AS IF HE WAS LOOSING HIS MIND. A GOOD BOOK FOR ANY MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS WIFE.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
shimijimito
The book's content is OK, but I feel Lewis is less clear in this book than the others I have read by him. I would not recommend this for anyone who is an average reader with practical, give it to me straight preferences.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
kazima
This is NOT the book to buy if you are a born-again Christian. I was very disappointed with Lewis's writings. It's for a reader who is not a strong Christian who is upset by their loss and struggles with their feelings towards God. I bought it for a dear friend who lost his wife to cancer. I read it over before I was about to give it to him and found it upsetting and not at all supportive for a reader who believes in Jesus and Heaven. I decided not to give it to him and was surprised in mentioning it to him, that he already had a copy. He agreed that it was negative and should not be bought for a strong, saved Christian who loves Jesus and is comforted knowing their beloved is now in Heaven.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jake gest
C.S. Lewis was a famous revered teacher, writer and theologian...except it all fell apart after God gave him a romantic lover late in life and took her away untimely just to show that he could...Lewis was left bereft and felt abandoned by the God he worshipped all his life...he concluded...." so this is what God really is like, deceive yourself no longer."...His journey through grief in this private journal that he did not intend to be published is the journey of all lovers who lose the most cherished person in their lives. His grief done him in and he died within two years. Some things that are broken can never be fixed and many people die of a broken heart. Bottom line is it must all be God's will or it would be different...as Job said, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away..." and you better believe it...ergo theofatalism. You coud look it up...and feel good inside no matter what happens outside..
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
loralee
Be aware that, outside of the foreward and the introduction, the "book" consists of exactly 73 pages - and small pages with generous line spacing, at that. It is shorter than many of the papers I wrote in college. More of an essay than a book, really.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
giovanna
This was an ok book to read while passing through the grief process. I liked some of the quotes that were included. It was not what I was really hoping to read while I traveled through my grief journey.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
garrett
The heartbreaking grief of Lewis was evident, but his "scattered" thinking and writing made it difficult to identify with his anger and eventual acceptance. Because I know his other work, I was able to recognize his final hope.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
mark taylor
No table of contents. The actual text of the book appears like a poetry text, with variable amounts of text on each line. The page numbers fall in the middle of the page instead of the bottom. Very apparent there was no editing on this printing. Bought this as a gift for someone who lost a spouse recently, but I'll have to get it from somewhere else.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
andrew flood
I wish I had read through ALL the reviews. This book is unedited and not even bound or cut correctly to fit the cover. Rediculous. No doubt the original content is life changing. I will be purchasing somewhere else.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
paul alexander
I didn't like this book. Mr. Lewis went too far within his grief process. He needed counseling himself. He even denied God in the midst of his grief. He made his wife a God in his life. This book was difficult for me to read. I will read it again to see if by any chance I will change my mind. Some of our classmates recommend that I read it again.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
michelle juergen
I loved the book. I think C.S.LEWIS is a superb writer. I was one of those readers he described as, reading to find something. Every emotion,and every reaction to friends and people were exactly as he described them. I thought I was loosing my mind till I read this book then I knew someone else had grieved the same way as I am. The only difference is that his ,was his wife and minexpensive, my mother.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
mikey daly
I am not sure this is even from the publisher. This book's pages were not cut even! This was the cheapest book I have ever held. The paper was junk, the cover was junk, and all the pages were uneven, looking like they were cut with dull scissors! Worst of all it was a gift for someone who was grieving and I did not have time to return it! BUYER BEWARE. Good book, would not even pass for a fake, it's like it is a fake of a fake.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
matt lundeen
Very cheaply made. The pages when the book is closed do not line up, there is up to half inch difference between them. Very disappointed with the book itself, but the content by the author is some of the best I've read.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
carrie neuburger
CS Lewis, Narnia series and Screwtape letters are fictional stories that loosely coincide with Biblical beliefs in good verse evil however as much as I may like the fictional literature, the theology is not truly Biblical. As a Christian I bought this book hoping to provide another hurting soul some spiritual guidance in the sudden and tragic loss of their spouse. I threw it away. Lewis quotes no scripture. Instead, he seems to lean on his own reasoning and it came across to me as purely humanist, which I understand he leans towards in his fictional writings. Instead of this book, buy them a nice diary with scriptural passages and maybe pastel prints.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
govind
(Review to be Completed later) My 52nd book I've read about Grief, NDE, Mediums etc.
This was written as a Journal about the loss of his wife in 1960 and published in 1961.
Relative to what there is to read now (4-2016) there are some basics and it feels 'dated' and a bit 'barbaric' in what he allows for depth of himself. He brings some issues to the surface - But solves Nothing. It's just an old open journal.
I find this to be like taking a ladle and stirring up a pot to see its murkiness - then just watching it settle down - Without much resolution.
You might like this book - if you've Never done much therapy - and/or you're one of those guys who's all bottled up with Unidentified feelings.
I've read too many really Good books to like this one. I made notes of some really good sentences of insights - but for me - this book just Isn't worth it. He wrote with many Dated words - trying to be Overly poetic. Scott M.
C.S. Lewis died the same day as J.F.K (11-22-1963) he was a smoker.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
makayla
I was attracted to this book because...
In addition to being written by Lewis, I lost both of my parents in the summer of 2014. I am seeking comfort and information on grief.

This book was about
The book was originally the journal C.S. Lewis wrote after the death of his wide, Joy Davidson. The original writing was intended for publication, but for himself as he worked through his experiences.

Things I liked about this book
I was amazed at how many of the emotions and thoughts I’ve been experiencing were discussed in the book. The possibility that others would relate and be encouraged they were not the only ones experiencing these things was exactly why Lewis thought it was important to share his writing. I’m glad he did. His words have brought me great comfort.

Why you should read this book
If you have experienced a major loss in your life, this is a great book to read to walk along side someone who has gone through the experience. If you know someone who is going through the grief process, it will help you understand what they are going through. It will also help you watch for times when they are discouraged and perhaps give you some ideas to each to them.

This book lived up to the back cover copy
The book cover promised an ‘honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss.” Lewis’ words are very honest and genuine and can bring you encouragement to ask questions and stand in your faith.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rick friedberg
I read this famous book about mourning in an attempt to find a Christian theology of mourning. Given the expectation of heaven, should Christians mourn? If so, what and how? I followed it with what is essentially the atheist's version of this book - Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God by Greta Christina in order to explore the atheist's philosophy of death. The two reviews should be read in parallel.

A prerequisite for this book has to be watching The Shadowlands, for which Anthony Hopkins should have won an Oscar for his outstanding portrayal of Lewis. The movie shows the bittersweet romance between Lewis and Joy Gresham (played by Debra Winger). The details of Lewis' life and the conflict he faced falling in love with, marrying, and then losing Gresham to cancer are quite moving. I had always wondered "What happened next?" How did Lewis get along with his stepson? How did they mourn together (or separately)? This book gives the answer.

The second foreword was written by Douglas Gresham which outlines his perspective and the difficulty he and Lewis had in dealing with the loss together, both were left to mourn differently and separately. Lewis initially published the book under a pseudonym, but it was too easy to discern his writing. He gives insight into his parents that is great.

One takeaway from this book is what not to say to a grieving person. There is a time to remind them of theological truths but in the moment it's insensitive. "Sorrow is not a state but a process," and it's important to remember this. (Perhaps every Christian should read On Death and Dying?). Even worse are the unbiblical things people say (and sing in hymns) like "we'll meet again on that golden shore." Where is the "golden shore" in Scripture? A person sharing these common statements thus errs twice. Lewis does focus on what is in Scripture, the promises of God, and how He works.

He rails against those of weak faith, or no faith, who think God cannot possibly wish them to feel pain. "How could God do this if he loved me?" Lewis responds by asking "Have none of them ever been to a dentist?" Don't fall into the error of putting our desires ahead of God-- God does things for His glory. Romans 8:28 tells us that He is working all things for His glory and our good (if we are His) but he is King and knows what that "good" for us is.

Nonetheless, Lewis has a strong desire for assurance that his wife is in heaven. He knows the promise of Scripture but has no way of knowing whether she is truly there and he wish he had some. I have observed this to be universal among people I've observed mourning.

As vividly portrayed in The Shadowlands, "we don't want grief but we want that love which it stems from and necessitates." It is impossible to have the love without the grief, loving someone means being vulnerable to hurt by that person. All of us are here temporarily, loving someone or something means you have to eventually let it go.

Lewis echoes the psalmists in holding up praise for God as a possible solution to the sorrow. Remembering the goodness of God and the he loves us and focusing on His promises in Scripture and being thankful for the good gifts he gives seems to be the biblical prescription.

A very good statement: "Approaching Christ as a means and not the end is not to approach him at all." Saving faith is that which comes to Jesus for who He is and not what He does for us (I'm paraphrasing both Lewis and John Piper here). The communion wafer is a poor representation of what we want to be unified with, just as in all things in the Christian life we see Christ through a glass, darkly (1 Cor. 13:12). But Christians alone can mourn with hope (1 Thess. 4:13).

There are also a few apologetics toward those who do not believe in an afterlife. Lewis was extremely well-read in multiple languages and his wife was quite astute in literary knowledge as well. It's a good reminder that C.S. Lewis had countered plenty of atheistic arguments with pure logic, and it's sad that many of the "new atheists" have not read them. His faith survived, and was perhaps strengthened, by what he learned through this "process" of mourning.

I give this book 5 stars out of 5. It is written as an overflow from the heart but with a discipline of mind and a focus on right, biblical truth. It is not a complete theology of mourning, but it is amazingly heartfelt and real. I would give it to any Christian in mourning.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
alnora1227
C.S. Lewis wrote this in the form of a journal after his dear wife’s passing to cancer. I was looking forward to reading it, and although there were many parts that I thought were thought-provoking and insightful, overall I didn’t appreciate it as much as I had hoped. However, I am glad that I read it. It may be eye-opening to many when one sees that the faith of even the strongest soul can be shaken when faced with such grief.

He wrote: “Perhaps the bereaved ought to be isolated in special settlements like lepers.” Sadly, in much of modern society, people seem quite uncomfortable with talking about death and losing loved ones.

As far as books on death and dying go, my favorite so far is “In the Midst of Life” by Jennifer Worth. She’s one of my favorite writers.

Some other favorite quotes:
“I loathe the slightest effort. Not only writing but even reading a letter is too much. Even shaving. What does it matter now whether my cheek is rough or smooth? They say an unhappy man wants distractions—something to take him out of himself. Only as a dog-tired man wants an extra blanket on a cold night; he’d rather lie there shivering than get up and find one. It’s easy to see why the lonely become untidy, finally, dirty and disgusting.
Meanwhile, where is God?”

“When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels—welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.”

“It is hard to have patience with people who say, ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter. I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?”

“Bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love. It follows marriage as normally as marriage follows courtship or as autumn follows summer. It is not a truncation of the process but one of its phases; not the interruption of the dance, but the next figure. We are ‘taken out of bereavement is not the truncation of married love but one of its regular phases—like the honeymoon.”

“The more joy there can be in the marriage between dead and living, the better. The better in every way. For, as I have discovered, passionate grief does not link us with the dead but cuts us off from them. This become clearer and clearer. It is just at those moments when I feel least sorrow—getting into my morning bath is usually one of them—that H. rushes upon my mind in her full reality, her otherness. Not, as in my worst moments, all foreshortened and patheticized and solemnized by my miseries, but as she is in her own right. This is good and tonic. I seem to remember—though though I couldn’t quote one at the moment—all sorts of ballads and folktales in which the dead tell us that our mourning does them some kind of wrong. They beg us to stop it. There may be far more depth in this than I thought. If so, our grandfathers’ generation went very far astray. All that (sometimes lifelong) ritual of sorrow—visiting graves, keeping anniversaries, leaving the empty bedroom exactly as ‘the departed’ used to keep it, mentioning the dead either not at all or always in a special voice, or even (like Queen Victoria) having the dead man’s clothes put out for dinner every evening—this was like mummification. It made the dead far more dead.”

“I will turn to her as often as possible in gladness. I will even salute her with a laugh. The less I mourn her the nearer I seem to her.”
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
avery
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a novelist, academic, medievalist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist who held academic positions at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. He wrote many other books, such as Mere Christianity,Miracles,Problem of Pain,The Screwtape Letters,The World's Last Night,The Abolition of Man,The Great Divorce,God in the Dock,Christian Reflections,The Weight of Glory, etc. [NOTE: page numbers refer to the 153-page paperback edition.]

In later life, Lewis agreed to enter into a civil marriage contract with Joy Davidman Gresham, an American writer (of Jewish background) who was stricken with cancer, so that she could continue to live in the UK. After the marriage, her cancer briefly went into remission, and he came to love her deeply, and was devasted when the cancer returned and she died. This journal was originally relased under the pseudonym "N.W. Clerk"; his authorship was only made public after his death.

He wrote, "where is God?... When you are happy... you turn to Him... you will be---or so it feels---welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence... Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to belive in God... The conclusion I dread is not, 'So there's no God after all,' but, 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'" (Pg. 4-5) He adds, "Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." (Pg. 28)

He says, "Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What do we have to set against it?" (Pg. 33-34) He adds, "Is it rational to believe in a bad God? Anyway, in a God so bad as all that? The Cosmic Sadist, the spiteful imbecile?" (Pg. 35) He argues, "The word 'good,' applied to Him, becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying Him. Not even fear. It is true we have His threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from His point of view 'good,' telling lies may be 'good' too... If His ideas of good are so very different from ours, what He calls 'Heaven' might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa." (Pg. 37)

He admits, "If my house has collapsed at one blow, that it because it was a house of cards. The faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination. The taking them into account was not real sympathy. If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came... Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game, 'or else people won't take it seriously.' Apparently it's like that. Your bid---for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity---will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until ... you find that you are playing ... for every penny you have in the world... I must surely admit... that, if my house was a house of cards, the sooner it was knocked down the better. And only suffering could do it. But then the Cosmic Sadist and Eternal Vivesector becomes an unnecessary hypothesis." (Pg. 42-44)

Chad Walsh notes in his helpful Afterword, "Lewis never really recovered from the loss of Joy. When I next saw him in late 1961, he was subdued and at loose ends. His own health had begun to fail... He had been a man of tremendous zest during most of his life, but toward the end I think he was ready for death." (Pg. 147-148)

This deeply moving chronicle may be of particular help to those who themselves are feeling great pain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
john otte
(In 3 weeks I read seven books in preparation to write the Analysis of the Competition section for the book proposal for my co-authored nonfiction book Never Stop Dancing. The seven books are A Grief Observed, Two Kisses for Maddy, The Year of Magical Thinking, About Alice, A Widow's Story, Tuesdays with Morrie, and When Bad Things Happen to Good People. I'll write a review for each book. Death and grief are common, but we experience each uniquely.)

Not so much a book as "notebooks" (because that's exactly what A Grief Observed is: a series of journal entries), A Grief Observed is the beloved classic from arguably the greatest Christian writer of the 20th century. These are personal meditations Lewis wrote after his brief marriage to his wife, who was dying of cancer when they married. First published in 1961 under a pseudonym to avoid identification as the author, the book was re-published in 1963 after his death under his own name.

In A Grief Observed Lewis records his intense struggles with the fundamental questions of faith, love, grief, and the purpose of life. It's clear that Lewis opened his heart into these notebook entries; the pages are loaded with spiritual candor and emotional depth. “Grief is like a long valley,” Lewis notes at one point, “a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” We're taken on that journey with Lewis as he shares many landscapes during the different contemplative seasons of his soul.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
carolyn cahalane
"There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me." C.S. Lewis masterfully writes on the paradoxical nature of grief. A desire to shed bonds with others, while clinging tightly to them C.S. Lewis, in his painfully virtuosic writing, details the weight of the loss of his wife, and how the world is shaped by her absence. Lewis seems to be caught in a world in between; a world of melancholia and painful introspection. His writing beckons back to Job's charges against God's as he pleads for honest answers, or at the very least, sweet relief. In the same fashion, Lewis is denied this comfort but comes out on the other side with a new perspective. Grief is so very like standing on a beach and facing the shore. Occasionally, the cold, brash waves will overtake you. Other times, the waves will creep slowly up to your ankles, and entrance you in a bittersweet memoriam. Anybody who has experienced significant loss, and those who have not, will benefit greatly from this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jenny hall
A Grief Observed was published in 1961, and I believe was the last book he published while he was alive, as he died in 1963. It is a collection of thoughts and reflections taken from his private notebooks, which were written during his grieving process over the death of his wife (Joy Davidman) in 1960. The Foreword was written by Madeline L'Engle, and the introduction was written by Joy's son and Lewis' step-son - Douglas Gresham. Gresham does a beautiful job of explaining the relationship between Lewis and Davidman and specifically recounting how they first met. This puts the relationship and the book in proper context. Gresham also points out that the key word in the title of this book is "A." He makes it well-known that this is Lewis' grief and not meant to be a universal experience of grief.

We see a wide range of emotions in this work. There is sadness, anger, confusion, There are a lot of questions and not a lot of answers. At times, it feels very raw, which is not unexpected. He directs most of his anger at God, and you can tell that this loss was a real test of his faith. This was easily the most difficult Lewis work I have read, not for its depth of knowledge, but for its depth of emotion. If you know someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one, then I would recommend this work to them. Their grief won't be exactly the same as Lewis', as no two people's grief ever is, but it will give them a sense of knowing that others went through it and probably asked some of the same questions they did.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
marcela
C. S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed is the kind of book that some will value for the personal expression of grief, and relate to it, in the same way those in love appreciate expressions of love. Apart from that, I think the interest will be for those who study Lewis to know more about the author. While he observes his own grief with language that at times is detached [example], perhaps reflecting his consideration of God as one conducting experiments on humans [quote], the book is an intimate autobiography, albeit of a brief time.

The intimacy develops in several ways. The writing is not typical of Lewis, as it is about himself, about his feelings, at times unchecked by reason. For instance, in one journal entry Lewis writes, “Time after time, when He seemed most gracious, He was really preparing the next torture.” Lewis admits, in the next journal entry, “I wrote that last night. It was a yell rather than a thought.”

There is intimacy in the form of journal entries. Journaling was a form of writing Lewis had practiced many years before, at the behest of Mrs. Moore, and eventually quit for its self-indulgence. Lewis realizes this again when he writes in one entry late in this account, “The notes have been about myself, and about H. [Joy], and about God. In that order. The order and the proportions exactly what they ought not to have been.” Later entries show the proportions do not remain this way. It may be that with some resolution of the grief he quits the journal again, as it seems the resolution has only begun when the book ends.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ratika
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a novelist, academic, medievalist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist who held academic positions at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. He wrote many other books, such as Mere Christianity,Miracles,Problem of Pain,The Screwtape Letters,The World's Last Night,The Abolition of Man,The Great Divorce,God in the Dock,Christian Reflections,The Weight of Glory, etc. [NOTE: page numbers refer to the 153-page paperback edition.]

In later life, Lewis agreed to enter into a civil marriage contract with Joy Davidman Gresham, an American writer (of Jewish background) who was stricken with cancer, so that she could continue to live in the UK. After the marriage, her cancer briefly went into remission, and he came to love her deeply, and was devasted when the cancer returned and she died. This journal was originally relased under the pseudonym "N.W. Clerk"; his authorship was only made public after his death.

He wrote, "where is God?... When you are happy... you turn to Him... you will be---or so it feels---welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence... Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to belive in God... The conclusion I dread is not, 'So there's no God after all,' but, 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'" (Pg. 4-5) He adds, "Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." (Pg. 28)

He says, "Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What do we have to set against it?" (Pg. 33-34) He adds, "Is it rational to believe in a bad God? Anyway, in a God so bad as all that? The Cosmic Sadist, the spiteful imbecile?" (Pg. 35) He argues, "The word 'good,' applied to Him, becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying Him. Not even fear. It is true we have His threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from His point of view 'good,' telling lies may be 'good' too... If His ideas of good are so very different from ours, what He calls 'Heaven' might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa." (Pg. 37)

He admits, "If my house has collapsed at one blow, that it because it was a house of cards. The faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination. The taking them into account was not real sympathy. If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came... Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game, 'or else people won't take it seriously.' Apparently it's like that. Your bid---for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity---will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until ... you find that you are playing ... for every penny you have in the world... I must surely admit... that, if my house was a house of cards, the sooner it was knocked down the better. And only suffering could do it. But then the Cosmic Sadist and Eternal Vivesector becomes an unnecessary hypothesis." (Pg. 42-44)

Chad Walsh notes in his helpful Afterword, "Lewis never really recovered from the loss of Joy. When I next saw him in late 1961, he was subdued and at loose ends. His own health had begun to fail... He had been a man of tremendous zest during most of his life, but toward the end I think he was ready for death." (Pg. 147-148)

This deeply moving chronicle may be of particular help to those who themselves are feeling great pain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amber ruvalcaba
I was attracted to this book because...
In addition to being written by Lewis, I lost both of my parents in the summer of 2014. I am seeking comfort and information on grief.

This book was about
The book was originally the journal C.S. Lewis wrote after the death of his wide, Joy Davidson. The original writing was intended for publication, but for himself as he worked through his experiences.

Things I liked about this book
I was amazed at how many of the emotions and thoughts I’ve been experiencing were discussed in the book. The possibility that others would relate and be encouraged they were not the only ones experiencing these things was exactly why Lewis thought it was important to share his writing. I’m glad he did. His words have brought me great comfort.

Why you should read this book
If you have experienced a major loss in your life, this is a great book to read to walk along side someone who has gone through the experience. If you know someone who is going through the grief process, it will help you understand what they are going through. It will also help you watch for times when they are discouraged and perhaps give you some ideas to each to them.

This book lived up to the back cover copy
The book cover promised an ‘honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss.” Lewis’ words are very honest and genuine and can bring you encouragement to ask questions and stand in your faith.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brandi doctoroff
I read this book as a 16 year old girl who just lost a close friend in a car accident. It is the only book on grief that brought any measure of understanding to a teenager, really not much more than a child, who could not understand and wasn’t sure of anything. C. S. Lewis doesn’t write words of “encouragement” or platitudes that honestly sound empty to grieving hearts. It’s a journal of literally what grief look like and the anger, fear, sadness and confusion that comes with it. And for a 16 year old girl it meant that what I wasn’t alone. That someone understood. I recommend this book to anyone. It’s short, takes about two or three hours to read, and it brought me a measure of peace. Just in knowing that I wasn’t alone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
robin beaudoin
This is a meticulous documentation of a particular kind of grief - the loss of a wife in the prime of marriage. The love story of C.S Lewis is well-known, and Lewis's ability to write clearly and specifically about feeling is just as remarkable here as it is in describing his late-found love in "Surprised by Joy." Other reviewers have found a commonality with their grief at losing a child at birth, or other sudden heartbreaks.

My takeaway, though, is that each person's experience of grief is doomed to uniqueness. Lewis's grief is a bit like my grief at losing my father too soon after a short and bitter fight with cancer. It is not much like my grief at losing my mother bit by bit over several years to senescence and dementia, until she finally left altogether a few weeks ago. So although I admired Lewis's craft in writing down his turbulent emotions, I was not comforted or moved.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
prabhjinder
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a novelist, academic, medievalist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist who held academic positions at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. He wrote many other books, such as Mere Christianity,Miracles,Problem of Pain,The Screwtape Letters,The World's Last Night,The Abolition of Man,The Great Divorce,God in the Dock,Christian Reflections,The Weight of Glory, etc. [NOTE: page numbers refer to the 153-page paperback edition.]

In later life, Lewis agreed to enter into a civil marriage contract with Joy Davidman Gresham, an American writer (of Jewish background) who was stricken with cancer, so that she could continue to live in the UK. After the marriage, her cancer briefly went into remission, and he came to love her deeply, and was devasted when the cancer returned and she died. This journal was originally relased under the pseudonym "N.W. Clerk"; his authorship was only made public after his death.

He wrote, "where is God?... When you are happy... you turn to Him... you will be---or so it feels---welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence... Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to belive in God... The conclusion I dread is not, 'So there's no God after all,' but, 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'" (Pg. 4-5) He adds, "Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." (Pg. 28)

He says, "Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What do we have to set against it?" (Pg. 33-34) He adds, "Is it rational to believe in a bad God? Anyway, in a God so bad as all that? The Cosmic Sadist, the spiteful imbecile?" (Pg. 35) He argues, "The word 'good,' applied to Him, becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying Him. Not even fear. It is true we have His threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from His point of view 'good,' telling lies may be 'good' too... If His ideas of good are so very different from ours, what He calls 'Heaven' might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa." (Pg. 37)

He admits, "If my house has collapsed at one blow, that it because it was a house of cards. The faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination. The taking them into account was not real sympathy. If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came... Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game, 'or else people won't take it seriously.' Apparently it's like that. Your bid---for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity---will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until ... you find that you are playing ... for every penny you have in the world... I must surely admit... that, if my house was a house of cards, the sooner it was knocked down the better. And only suffering could do it. But then the Cosmic Sadist and Eternal Vivesector becomes an unnecessary hypothesis." (Pg. 42-44)

Chad Walsh notes in his helpful Afterword, "Lewis never really recovered from the loss of Joy. When I next saw him in late 1961, he was subdued and at loose ends. His own health had begun to fail... He had been a man of tremendous zest during most of his life, but toward the end I think he was ready for death." (Pg. 147-148)

This deeply moving chronicle may be of particular help to those who themselves are feeling great pain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lyn polk
For a Cambridge professor, C.S. Lewis writes in simple, clear English free of flourish or pretension, and "A Grief Observed" is all the more powerful because of its style. It's a straight-forward account of his struggle with faith in the face of tragedy, and one of the best "self-help" guides available for those dealing with the questions that arise when dealing with the ultimate grief.

"A Grief Observed" is about Lewis' crisis of faith following the death of his wife, poet Joy Davidman, whom he wed in the final decade of his life, well aware she was dying of cancer. Their romance and the tragedy that befell them was later dramatized in the play "Shadowlands," and the subsequent film starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.

It's easy to see why Lewis, a famous Christian apologist who also wrote "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "The Screwtape Letters," first published "A Grief Observed" under the pseudonym of N.W. Clark. The brutally honest reactions to tragedy and its effect on his definition of God would have shocked his faithful readers and might have tarnished his reputation. We are taught to love God and accept that He loves us. To question that thesis, or to express anger at God or to doubt his character, might be construed as blasphemy.

Lewis writes that grief feels much like fear at times. "Meanwhile, where is God?" he asks. God is present, or seems to be, when all is well. "But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away."

Lewis does not doubt God's existence, but wonders if the Supreme Being is not what He has claimed to be.

"The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'"

These are not the kind of thoughts that many Christians would ever dare express which is why they are often of little help to those seeking reassurance or balm for their wounds. Too many self-described "Christians" are cliquish and cantankerous, professing a belief in the interest of feeling superior to those on the outside of their faith: "I'm saved, you're not. Na, na, na, na, na."

There is no such boasting from Lewis. Tragedy taught him that faith in God requires hard work, and if C.S. Lewis can struggle with belief, certainly we can, too. A remarkable, comforting book.

Brian W. Fairbanks
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tad richards
I have not read much Lewis so likely a mistake to start here. Lewis is best known for his fictional work, especially The Chronicles of Narnia but ventured here into non-fiction in compiling journals of his thoughts after the death of wife, following a short marriage. The book was written under a pseudonym and when the author's identity became known most were amazed that a learned, successful, thoughtful Christian could reach such levels of despair. Ultimately he puts some things in context and soldiers on but I hope that I never follow such a tortured path.

Perhaps the best part of this audiobook version is the introductions, especially a lengthy one by the author's step-son, the son of the deceased wife. He has the benefit of many years reflection but still struggles to explain Lewis's reactions. One can pity a man who waited many years to find love and then loves it too quickly.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
david shotwell
The mere name of C. S. Lewis is a call, if not to combat, then to heavily entrenched opinion. Some people idolize him; some people scoff at him. I've enjoyed some of his critical writing--THE ALLEGORY OF LOVE is such a readable and inviting book on medieval literature that for a while you actually think you want to reread THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE. (You don't. Trust me. "It is gone, gone utterly, so far as its readableness is concerned," Ezra Pound wrote, correctly.) And THE FOUR LOVES I remember enjoying. The Narnia books, alas, I read after reading Tolkien and found them thin and priggish, as I found some of the religious writing entirely too donnish. One book stands apart for me: A GRIEF OBSERVED (1961). Lewis, as all the world knows, was for many years the image of the happy bookbound Oxbridge bachelor, sharing digs with his brother Warren. Lewis married late, the American artist Joy Davidman Gresham, and married happily; and shortly thereafter, as he had his parents, lost his wife to cancer. ("I wonder who's next in the queue," he writes.) A GRIEF OBSERVED, originally published under a pseudonym, is startling to read not just for its honesty, which is moving, but for its remarkable intelligence and self-observation. Time and again, reading this terse little book (ninety pages of large type) one has to say, "That's it; he's nailed it." It's this quality--its sheer commanding interest--that makes it the great thing of its kind, because it suggests that it was Lewis's intelligence as much as his faith that saw him through the ordeal. He says at the end, "Didn't people dispute once whether the final vision of God was more an act of intelligence or of love? That is probably another of the nonsense questions." Reading A GRIEF OBSERVED, Lewis convinces you that it probably is.

Glenn Shea, from Glenn's Book Notes at www.bookbarnniantic.com
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
louise freeman
Narrative is based on his journals written by C.S. Lewis after the death of his beloved wife Joy and is basically grief process thru free association and writing as therapy. This is not C.S. Lewis the brilliant theologian nor the creator of fantastic fiction. It is C.S. Lewis the bereaved husband and anguished man whose grief is palpable.
One could not characterize this as a self-help book such as When Everything Changes, Change Everything written by Neil Donald Walsh who also wrote Conversations With God. Neither is it a spiritual pathway, however, C.S. Lewis does an excellent job of keeping the conflict on the page such as advocated by Julia Cameron in The Right to Write which is an invitation to journaling as a therapeutic tool.
A Grief Observed evokes great compassion and empathy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kathy leslie
After reading this book I have a much keener sense of what it is like to grieve. I have experienced very little grief in my short time on the planet. But when I contemplate the inevitability of grief, I find myself overwhelmed. This book is a raw and honest look into the grief of a man who lost his wife, the one he loved dearly and regarded as "one-flesh". The introduction fleshes out much of the background story, but doesn't really add to the book. Lewis did not shy away from asking the tough questions, and dismissing pat answers. I understood what he meant by the embarrassment he felt when he ran into old friends, and colleagues. He also spoke of the apathy and boredom grief bring. Before it, one was always running out of time, now with grief, one seems to have too much time. His grief made it seem like God has gone silent and bolted the door. Where is God when we suffer? Lewis' pain was very raw and real.

For Lewis his fear with God was not finding out that he doesn't exist. But the conclusion that in his suffering he found out what God was really like. Was God a cosmic sadist? Lewis said one had rational reasons for thinking so, but that this line of thinking was truncated. A cosmic sadist could not govern anything, he could only bait and smite. But how could a cosmic sadist have come up with things like Love, laughter, or a frosty sunset.

It's tricky reading this book. If you stop halfway through you'll think C.S. Lewis gave up on God and became an atheist again. If you read to the end you find his faith in God renewed. What changed? Although Lewis doesn't come out and say as much I recognised that it was when he meditated on the cross, when He saw that it was Jesus who had suffered and taken his burden for him, that he finally felt the weight of his grief lift. Ultimately Lewis came to see that his faith in God was a house of cards, not that he believed God didn't exist, rather he had made God in his own image, and this image had to go. God used his grief to knock down his house of cards. All our ideas of God need to be shattered from time to time. In fact it is God himself who shatters them. Just look at the incarnation, and how it shattered the ideas of the messiah forever. God does this because we continually put things before Him. Lewis himself admitted that had his wife been alive, it would have been easy for him to put her ahead of God, if she asked him to do something God said not to. Which explains why he dismissed the idea of post-mortem reunions. If we seek God as a road to meet up with the departed then we are not really seeking God. He acknowledges how crazy this sounds. Do you mean that only if I give up wanting to see them, to the point of where I don't care about them and I only care about God then I can see them again? Most of our questions like this are silly questions: Is a yellow square round? God's no to us, or closed door is more often the no of a parent who says "Child, you cannot understand now".

I don't know what to make of this book. It seems odd to criticise a journal for omitting things I could see helping the discussion. But this is no academic discussion. There is a lot of wisdom here that I can see as preparation for a day that inevitably comes to us all. It has also helped me understand something of what my grieving friends have gone through. Anything by C.S. Lewis is worth reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
chris hughes
If pictures speak a thousand words, Lewis paints a thousand pictures with his writing. The first half of the book I read in less than an hour-i couldn't put it down or do saying, "yes!"because he said what I've thought. At times his raw emotions seep out in a surprising way, causing you to think, "really? Lewis thought that?" It's a comfort that we don't have to have it all together and death really is as tough as they say. The last half of the book was good but not enough for me to give it five stars.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yavrukedi
The poetic, provoking, and porous C.S. Lewis unsheathes his greatest grief: the death of beloved wife, affectionately called “H.” Lewis’ insightful summative statement towards the end, “Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process” (59), incapsulates his meandering of loss and grief. His pain, her absence, and God’s love and wisdom are interweaved: her absence is the choice sword of God’s love and wisdom that caused his pain–pain that leads to healing and deepening love. Mind the indefinite article in the title, “A…,” so one would do well to read and soak from Lewis’ grief to taste his foreshadowed joy.

cf. sooholee.wordpress
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
tiina lee
I bought this book to give to my sister when she lost her husband of 60 years. I decided I should read it first to make sure it would be appropriate. As a Christian, I was hoping to send her an encouraging, inspiring word to help her get through this difficult time in her life.

Boy, am I glad I read it first! I found it to be very depressing and definitely NOT uplifiting at all. It was really more about the author's doubts about his own faith. Very disappointing. I obviously didn't send it to my sister and it is now just sitting here collecting dust. I really wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Pretty depressing book actually.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
salomon
A Grief Observed was originally a diary or journal of Lewis’ after the death of his wife. He married someone that he knew had a life-threatening illness and their marriage only lasted a few years before she finally died. His notes, thoughts, grievances and outbursts are all in A Grief Observed, out in the open for all to see.

Up front we see Lewis challenge any help for his comfort. Everything and everyone annoys him. God is silent and Lewis is angry about it. A little over halfway you start to see somewhat the effects of time during his grief. He says at one point, “I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted” (the door to God that is. It should also be noted that he questions this again, but it is obvious this is a big change in his earlier view). The reader is not left with complete closure, as Lewis only stops writing because he has run out of paper. He refuses to go on and on. For he realizes the road to grief is really never-ending in this life and that if, at some point, he doesn’t stop arbitrarily, it will never end. I think more details of Lewis’ journey here is best left to the reader and his or her own reactions.

I’m not sure this is Lewis’ best book. I do like it, but my time for reading it is more like out of the blue than it is by any inward necessity. I’m not sure how I would react going through similar grievous circumstances. But all in all it’s worth a read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nikola rudic
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a novelist, academic, medievalist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist who held academic positions at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. He wrote many other books, such as Mere Christianity,Miracles,Problem of Pain,The Screwtape Letters,The World's Last Night,The Abolition of Man,The Great Divorce,God in the Dock,Christian Reflections,The Weight of Glory, etc. [NOTE: page numbers refer to the 153-page paperback edition.]

In later life, Lewis agreed to enter into a civil marriage contract with Joy Davidman Gresham, an American writer (of Jewish background) who was stricken with cancer, so that she could continue to live in the UK. After the marriage, her cancer briefly went into remission, and he came to love her deeply, and was devasted when the cancer returned and she died. This journal was originally relased under the pseudonym "N.W. Clerk"; his authorship was only made public after his death.

He wrote, "where is God?... When you are happy... you turn to Him... you will be---or so it feels---welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence... Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to belive in God... The conclusion I dread is not, 'So there's no God after all,' but, 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'" (Pg. 4-5) He adds, "Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." (Pg. 28)

He says, "Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What do we have to set against it?" (Pg. 33-34) He adds, "Is it rational to believe in a bad God? Anyway, in a God so bad as all that? The Cosmic Sadist, the spiteful imbecile?" (Pg. 35) He argues, "The word 'good,' applied to Him, becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying Him. Not even fear. It is true we have His threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from His point of view 'good,' telling lies may be 'good' too... If His ideas of good are so very different from ours, what He calls 'Heaven' might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa." (Pg. 37)

He admits, "If my house has collapsed at one blow, that it because it was a house of cards. The faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination. The taking them into account was not real sympathy. If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came... Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game, 'or else people won't take it seriously.' Apparently it's like that. Your bid---for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity---will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until ... you find that you are playing ... for every penny you have in the world... I must surely admit... that, if my house was a house of cards, the sooner it was knocked down the better. And only suffering could do it. But then the Cosmic Sadist and Eternal Vivesector becomes an unnecessary hypothesis." (Pg. 42-44)

Chad Walsh notes in his helpful Afterword, "Lewis never really recovered from the loss of Joy. When I next saw him in late 1961, he was subdued and at loose ends. His own health had begun to fail... He had been a man of tremendous zest during most of his life, but toward the end I think he was ready for death." (Pg. 147-148)

This deeply moving chronicle may be of particular help to those who themselves are feeling great pain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bexy ross
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a novelist, academic, medievalist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist who held academic positions at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. He wrote many other books, such as Mere Christianity,Miracles,Problem of Pain,The Screwtape Letters,The World's Last Night,The Abolition of Man,The Great Divorce,God in the Dock,Christian Reflections,The Weight of Glory, etc.

In later life, Lewis agreed to enter into a civil marriage contract with Joy Davidman Gresham, an American writer (of Jewish background) who was stricken with cancer, so that she could continue to live in the UK. After the marriage, her cancer briefly went into remission, and he came to love her deeply, and was devasted when the cancer returned and she died. This journal was originally relased under the pseudonym "N.W. Clerk"; his authorship was only made public after his death.

He wrote, "where is God?... When you are happy... you turn to Him... you will be---or so it feels---welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence... Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to belive in God... The conclusion I dread is not, 'So there's no God after all,' but, 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'" (Pg. 4-5) He adds, "Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." (Pg. 28)

He says, "Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What do we have to set against it?" (Pg. 33-34) He adds, "Is it rational to believe in a bad God? Anyway, in a God so bad as all that? The Cosmic Sadist, the spiteful imbecile?" (Pg. 35) He argues, "The word 'good,' applied to Him, becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying Him. Not even fear. It is true we have His threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from His point of view 'good,' telling lies may be 'good' too... If His ideas of good are so very different from ours, what He calls 'Heaven' might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa." (Pg. 37)

He admits, "If my house has collapsed at one blow, that it because it was a house of cards. The faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination. The taking them into account was not real sympathy. If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came... Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game, 'or else people won't take it seriously.' Apparently it's like that. Your bid---for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity---will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until ... you find that you are playing ... for every penny you have in the world... I must surely admit... that, if my house was a house of cards, the sooner it was knocked down the better. And only suffering could do it. But then the Cosmic Sadist and Eternal Vivesector becomes an unnecessary hypothesis." (Pg. 42-44)

Chad Walsh notes in his helpful Afterword, "Lewis never really recovered from the loss of Joy. When I next saw him in late 1961, he was subdued and at loose ends. His own health had begun to fail... He had been a man of tremendous zest during most of his life, but toward the end I think he was ready for death." (Pg. 147-148)

This deeply moving chronicle may be of particular help to those who themselves are feeling great pain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jackie schmitz
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a novelist, academic, medievalist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist who held academic positions at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. He wrote many other books, such as Mere Christianity,Miracles,Problem of Pain,The Screwtape Letters,The World's Last Night,The Abolition of Man,The Great Divorce,God in the Dock,Christian Reflections,The Weight of Glory, etc.

In later life, Lewis agreed to enter into a civil marriage contract with Joy Davidman Gresham, an American writer (of Jewish background) who was stricken with cancer, so that she could continue to live in the UK. After the marriage, her cancer briefly went into remission, and he came to love her deeply, and was devasted when the cancer returned and she died. This journal was originally relased under the pseudonym "N.W. Clerk"; his authorship was only made public after his death.

He wrote, "where is God?... When you are happy... you turn to Him... you will be---or so it feels---welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence... Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to belive in God... The conclusion I dread is not, 'So there's no God after all,' but, 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'" (Pg. 4-5) He adds, "Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." (Pg. 28)

He says, "Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What do we have to set against it?" (Pg. 33-34) He adds, "Is it rational to believe in a bad God? Anyway, in a God so bad as all that? The Cosmic Sadist, the spiteful imbecile?" (Pg. 35) He argues, "The word 'good,' applied to Him, becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying Him. Not even fear. It is true we have His threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from His point of view 'good,' telling lies may be 'good' too... If His ideas of good are so very different from ours, what He calls 'Heaven' might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa." (Pg. 37)

He admits, "If my house has collapsed at one blow, that it because it was a house of cards. The faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination. The taking them into account was not real sympathy. If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came... Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game, 'or else people won't take it seriously.' Apparently it's like that. Your bid---for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity---will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until ... you find that you are playing ... for every penny you have in the world... I must surely admit... that, if my house was a house of cards, the sooner it was knocked down the better. And only suffering could do it. But then the Cosmic Sadist and Eternal Vivesector becomes an unnecessary hypothesis." (Pg. 42-44)

Chad Walsh notes in his helpful Afterword, "Lewis never really recovered from the loss of Joy. When I next saw him in late 1961, he was subdued and at loose ends. His own health had begun to fail... He had been a man of tremendous zest during most of his life, but toward the end I think he was ready for death." (Pg. 147-148)

This deeply moving chronicle may be of particular help to those who themselves are feeling great pain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jessica trujillo
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a novelist, academic, medievalist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist who held academic positions at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. He wrote many other books, such as Mere Christianity,Miracles,Problem of Pain,The Screwtape Letters,The World's Last Night,The Abolition of Man,The Great Divorce,God in the Dock,Christian Reflections,The Weight of Glory, etc.

In later life, Lewis agreed to enter into a civil marriage contract with Joy Davidman Gresham, an American writer (of Jewish background) who was stricken with cancer, so that she could continue to live in the UK. After the marriage, her cancer briefly went into remission, and he came to love her deeply, and was devasted when the cancer returned and she died. This journal was originally relased under the pseudonym "N.W. Clerk"; his authorship was only made public after his death.

He wrote, "where is God?... When you are happy... you turn to Him... you will be---or so it feels---welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence... Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to belive in God... The conclusion I dread is not, 'So there's no God after all,' but, 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'" (Pg. 4-5) He adds, "Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." (Pg. 28)

He says, "Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What do we have to set against it?" (Pg. 33-34) He adds, "Is it rational to believe in a bad God? Anyway, in a God so bad as all that? The Cosmic Sadist, the spiteful imbecile?" (Pg. 35) He argues, "The word 'good,' applied to Him, becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying Him. Not even fear. It is true we have His threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from His point of view 'good,' telling lies may be 'good' too... If His ideas of good are so very different from ours, what He calls 'Heaven' might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa." (Pg. 37)

He admits, "If my house has collapsed at one blow, that it because it was a house of cards. The faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination. The taking them into account was not real sympathy. If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came... Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game, 'or else people won't take it seriously.' Apparently it's like that. Your bid---for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity---will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until ... you find that you are playing ... for every penny you have in the world... I must surely admit... that, if my house was a house of cards, the sooner it was knocked down the better. And only suffering could do it. But then the Cosmic Sadist and Eternal Vivesector becomes an unnecessary hypothesis." (Pg. 42-44)

Chad Walsh notes in his helpful Afterword, "Lewis never really recovered from the loss of Joy. When I next saw him in late 1961, he was subdued and at loose ends. His own health had begun to fail... He had been a man of tremendous zest during most of his life, but toward the end I think he was ready for death." (Pg. 147-148)

This deeply moving chronicle may be of particular help to those who themselves are feeling great pain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nancy schroeder
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a novelist, academic, medievalist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist who held academic positions at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. He wrote many other books, such as Mere Christianity,Miracles,Problem of Pain,The Screwtape Letters,The World's Last Night,The Abolition of Man,The Great Divorce,God in the Dock,Christian Reflections,The Weight of Glory, etc.

In later life, Lewis agreed to enter into a civil marriage contract with Joy Davidman Gresham, an American writer (of Jewish background) who was stricken with cancer, so that she could continue to live in the UK. After the marriage, her cancer briefly went into remission, and he came to love her deeply, and was devasted when the cancer returned and she died. This journal was originally relased under the pseudonym "N.W. Clerk"; his authorship was only made public after his death.

He wrote, "where is God?... When you are happy... you turn to Him... you will be---or so it feels---welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence... Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to belive in God... The conclusion I dread is not, 'So there's no God after all,' but, 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'" (Pg. 4-5) He adds, "Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." (Pg. 28)

He says, "Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What do we have to set against it?" (Pg. 33-34) He adds, "Is it rational to believe in a bad God? Anyway, in a God so bad as all that? The Cosmic Sadist, the spiteful imbecile?" (Pg. 35) He argues, "The word 'good,' applied to Him, becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying Him. Not even fear. It is true we have His threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from His point of view 'good,' telling lies may be 'good' too... If His ideas of good are so very different from ours, what He calls 'Heaven' might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa." (Pg. 37)

He admits, "If my house has collapsed at one blow, that it because it was a house of cards. The faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination. The taking them into account was not real sympathy. If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came... Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game, 'or else people won't take it seriously.' Apparently it's like that. Your bid---for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity---will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until ... you find that you are playing ... for every penny you have in the world... I must surely admit... that, if my house was a house of cards, the sooner it was knocked down the better. And only suffering could do it. But then the Cosmic Sadist and Eternal Vivesector becomes an unnecessary hypothesis." (Pg. 42-44)

Chad Walsh notes in his helpful Afterword, "Lewis never really recovered from the loss of Joy. When I next saw him in late 1961, he was subdued and at loose ends. His own health had begun to fail... He had been a man of tremendous zest during most of his life, but toward the end I think he was ready for death." (Pg. 147-148)

This deeply moving chronicle may be of particular help to those who themselves are feeling great pain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sharleen nelson
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a novelist, academic, medievalist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist who held academic positions at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. He wrote many other books, such as Mere Christianity,Miracles,Problem of Pain,The Screwtape Letters,The World's Last Night,The Abolition of Man,The Great Divorce,God in the Dock,Christian Reflections,The Weight of Glory, etc.

In later life, Lewis agreed to enter into a civil marriage contract with Joy Davidman Gresham, an American writer (of Jewish background) who was stricken with cancer, so that she could continue to live in the UK. After the marriage, her cancer briefly went into remission, and he came to love her deeply, and was devasted when the cancer returned and she died. This journal was originally relased under the pseudonym "N.W. Clerk"; his authorship was only made public after his death.

He wrote, "where is God?... When you are happy... you turn to Him... you will be---or so it feels---welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence... Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to belive in God... The conclusion I dread is not, 'So there's no God after all,' but, 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'" (Pg. 4-5) He adds, "Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." (Pg. 28)

He says, "Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What do we have to set against it?" (Pg. 33-34) He adds, "Is it rational to believe in a bad God? Anyway, in a God so bad as all that? The Cosmic Sadist, the spiteful imbecile?" (Pg. 35) He argues, "The word 'good,' applied to Him, becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying Him. Not even fear. It is true we have His threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from His point of view 'good,' telling lies may be 'good' too... If His ideas of good are so very different from ours, what He calls 'Heaven' might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa." (Pg. 37)

He admits, "If my house has collapsed at one blow, that it because it was a house of cards. The faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination. The taking them into account was not real sympathy. If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came... Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game, 'or else people won't take it seriously.' Apparently it's like that. Your bid---for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity---will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until ... you find that you are playing ... for every penny you have in the world... I must surely admit... that, if my house was a house of cards, the sooner it was knocked down the better. And only suffering could do it. But then the Cosmic Sadist and Eternal Vivesector becomes an unnecessary hypothesis." (Pg. 42-44)

Chad Walsh notes in his helpful Afterword, "Lewis never really recovered from the loss of Joy. When I next saw him in late 1961, he was subdued and at loose ends. His own health had begun to fail... He had been a man of tremendous zest during most of his life, but toward the end I think he was ready for death." (Pg. 147-148)

This deeply moving chronicle may be of particular help to those who themselves are feeling great pain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brimley
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a novelist, academic, medievalist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist who held academic positions at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. He wrote many other books, such as Mere Christianity,Miracles,Problem of Pain,The Screwtape Letters,The World's Last Night,The Abolition of Man,The Great Divorce,God in the Dock,Christian Reflections,The Weight of Glory, etc.

In later life, Lewis agreed to enter into a civil marriage contract with Joy Davidman Gresham, an American writer (of Jewish background) who was stricken with cancer, so that she could continue to live in the UK. After the marriage, her cancer briefly went into remission, and he came to love her deeply, and was devasted when the cancer returned and she died. This journal was originally relased under the pseudonym "N.W. Clerk"; his authorship was only made public after his death.

He wrote, "where is God?... When you are happy... you turn to Him... you will be---or so it feels---welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence... Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to belive in God... The conclusion I dread is not, 'So there's no God after all,' but, 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'" (Pg. 4-5) He adds, "Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." (Pg. 28)

He says, "Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What do we have to set against it?" (Pg. 33-34) He adds, "Is it rational to believe in a bad God? Anyway, in a God so bad as all that? The Cosmic Sadist, the spiteful imbecile?" (Pg. 35) He argues, "The word 'good,' applied to Him, becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying Him. Not even fear. It is true we have His threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from His point of view 'good,' telling lies may be 'good' too... If His ideas of good are so very different from ours, what He calls 'Heaven' might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa." (Pg. 37)

He admits, "If my house has collapsed at one blow, that it because it was a house of cards. The faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination. The taking them into account was not real sympathy. If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came... Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game, 'or else people won't take it seriously.' Apparently it's like that. Your bid---for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity---will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until ... you find that you are playing ... for every penny you have in the world... I must surely admit... that, if my house was a house of cards, the sooner it was knocked down the better. And only suffering could do it. But then the Cosmic Sadist and Eternal Vivesector becomes an unnecessary hypothesis." (Pg. 42-44)

Chad Walsh notes in his helpful Afterword, "Lewis never really recovered from the loss of Joy. When I next saw him in late 1961, he was subdued and at loose ends. His own health had begun to fail... He had been a man of tremendous zest during most of his life, but toward the end I think he was ready for death." (Pg. 147-148)

This deeply moving chronicle may be of particular help to those who themselves are feeling great pain.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
cory bree
This was a depressing book. A friend gave us a copy after our son died. I am glad I did NOT read it at that time. It's been five years since our loss, and I needed that distance to survive the reading of this book.

I love C.S. Lewis' fiction. The Chronicles of Narnia books and The Screwtape Letters are pure genius. His Mere Christianity, the science fiction trilogy and most of his other books are rather dry. His mind operated on a far more philosophical plane than mine can ever hope to master.

That being said, it must be pointed out that Lewis did not necessarily intend for this writing to be published. It was a personal diary, his way of working through the grief he suffered after the death of his beloved wife. When it was published, it was done so under a pseudonym and used only the first initial of his wife.

Some of the best quotes from this book were not written by Lewis himself, but by Madeleine L'Engle in the foreword and by Lewis' stepson, Douglas H. Gresham, in the Introduction. L'Engle writes from her own loss, "The death of a beloved is an amputation," and notes that "each experience of grief is unique." She saw journaling as a "way of getting rid of self-pity and self-indulgence and self-centeredness," so that our family and friends are not subjected to so much of our pain. Gresham wrote that "all human relationships end in pain--it is the price that our imperfection has allowed Satan to exact from us for the privilege of love." He also remarked, "the greater the love the greater the grief, and the stronger the faith the more savagely will Satan storm its fortress." He also gave some very helpful backstory to help readers understand why his stepfather was so tremendously effected by the death of his wife, whom he knew was dying when they wed.

The first chapter of Lewis' journey was most difficult. He articulated the raw, devastating emotions associated with loss, along with a feeling of being "mildly drunk, or concussed"--which I assume to be the numbness or shock that death can illicit. He dealt with feelings of disconnection from God and feared that he might end up "coming to believe such dreadful things about Him," because of the experience. He talked about the way others behaved around him, and how he felt isolated from friends and family by his grief.

In the second chapter, Lewis seemed more analytical. He feared that selective memory was creating a false image of Helen in his mind. He wrestled with wondering about what had become of her. What was the afterlife, if there was one, really like? He gave examples of what he'd heard and read and what folks would assure him was true after Helen died. He struggled some more with his beliefs about God. And he admitted to feelings of restlessness.

The third chapter was more philosophical. Lewis talked about how things that used to delight him caused sadness after his loss, due to a general sense of wrongness in a world that lacked his beloved. He talked about the selfishness of wishing our dead to return to us--how hard it must have been for Lazarus to go through death twice. He compared God to a surgeon who must resist our protests against our suffering because He must get at whatever is wrong with us, or all our pain will be wasted. His journal became a little more positive, as he was some months removed from his wife's death.

By the fourth and final chapter, Lewis had accepted some things about life, death, his loss and himself. He also felt that when he turned to God that he was no longer met with a locked door. He decided some things could not be answered by God because of our inability to understand. He noted that he was down to his last notebook and that it would be his last chronicle of his grief, since journaling had served its purpose in helping him process and stay sane, and even though he would probably have observations to note for sometime thereafter, he needed a stopping point of some sort.

If you are a fan of C.S. Lewis' other writings, then you might add this to your collection. If you are doing research about grief, you may find some useful points or illustrations for your paper. But, if you are looking for some comfort to deal with a devastating loss of your own, I think there are kinder, gentler books that would provide the encouragement you need. Lewis' book is good for reminding us that it's okay to struggle and be real with ourselves and God. However, sometimes a person in mourning needs more honey than vinegar to get them through their own tragedy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joseph malone
"A Grief Observed" is a classic work about suffering, loss, and faith. It is a hard read in some respects, because it is beautifully and brutally honest.

Only an individual suffering grief can know how it will personally effect faith, and often only after hindsight. Not all people are ready to read a book like "A Grief Observed" at the same time or stage as others. So please do not use this as a "Gift book" so much as a "guide book" for other in grief.

Perhaps offer to walk with the grieving person in his/her loss, and spend time with that person. Then, after establishing a good relationship you may want to read the book together.

I think "A Grief Observed" is a great book for people to come when they are ready. It does ask tough questions, and is written in a way that takes pondering and wondering and thinking.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elmit
This autobiographic journey of the great CS Lewis after his wife died has been a constant companion to me. His take on God's presence in suffering and death are words that the Church needs to hear today. He does not apologize for God, or try to defend God, but rather expresses his hurt in the loss AND the trust that God knows what He is doing. If anyone could package a treatise on theodicy for the lay person it is Lewis. The fact that he did so the midst of a season of catastrophic loss and hurt only reveals that much more about the man. I have collected my favorite quotes from the book, but this stands out as one of my favorites:

"I need Christ, not something that resembles Him. I want H., not something that is like her. A really good photograph might become in the end a snare, a horror, and an obstacle. Images, I must suppose, have their use or they would not have been so popular. (It makes little difference whether they are pictures and statues outside the mind or imaginative constructions within it.) To me, however, their danger is more obvious. Images of the Holy easily become holy images-sacrosanct. My idea of God is not a divine idea.
It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence? The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins. And most are 'offended' by the iconoclasm; and blessed are those who are not. But the same thing happens in our private prayers."

If you have recently suffered loss, I implore you to pick up this book and drink from the source of healing. If you haven't suffered loss in your life, pick up this book, because statistically speaking-you will. And you will want to have Lewis in your head and in your heart when the day of pain comes knocking.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
adriane
C.S. Lewis journals throughout territory called “grief” with great transparency. His entries are both uncomfortable and comforting. His words both clear and muddled. But then that is the way of spiritual offerings when one is searching one’s soul and mind, and emotions. I would recommend this book for anyone who is grieving any type of loss.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
malise
A bit short, shorter than I expected. Going thru the loss of my wife of 30 years it is helpful to see the thoughts and feelings of someone so capable of deep thought. Helps to know that I'm not alone in the things I'm feeling and experiencing. Even though it is short it has taken me some time to get thru it, mostly because I sometimes have to digest one paragraph at a time. Hard truth can be like Beef Jerky. It takes some chewing on to get everything out of it. If you are someone who has lost a spouse it is worth reading, though I'd recommend not doing so in the first month or so after his/her passing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marissa miller
As I write this, I still have my mother. She was diagnosed with cancer not quite a year ago, and she was expected to live until about August. I come from a devout Christian family who believes in prayer, and we all prayed for her as well as a group in another state. One of the members of the group was convinced that she would not die of cancer. At this time she still has cancer, but has outlived the doctor's prediction, and she feels great. Whether or not the cancer will disappear, or whether she will live a long time with it is hard to say. The doctors have given her another somewhere-around-August for things to turn worse or for the worst. All I know is that she is still here, but none of us knows what's going to happen.

However, I'm keeping my copy of A GRIEF OBSERVED handy. I may need it. No matter how sick our loved ones are, and no matter how firmly we believe that they are with the Lord, nobody is ever ready for it to happen.

I'm sure that was the case with C.S. Lewis. He loved his wife Joy deeply and their marriage, while short, meant a great deal to him, and he simply didn't want to lose her. He took her passing very hard -- maybe harder than a lot of people. But what I appreciate is his honesty about the hard questions that went through his heart and mind, his attempt to cling to God, and at times seemingly to fail.

Lewis was in good company. Martin Luther went into a deep depression when his daughter Magdalena died. So if Lewis was depressed and going through despair, he wasn't the only one -- and in my opinion, it did not reflect badly on his love of God. It showed his humanity.

I don't know how I will feel the day I do actually lose my mother. It won't be joyful. I'll be glad that she's in the presence of the Lord, but I speak for myself and my family when I say that we will miss her for the rest of our lives and will still wish her to be with us. I will probably read this book. I may or may not feel the same emotions as C. S. Lewis, and I may read other books, too, but I don't think I will ever judge Lewis and his grief. Lewis lived for a short while after Joy passed away, and wrote some spiritually helpful things -- but this experience changed his life forever as well those who knew her. I'm sure that when my mother is gone, I will grieve and then continue on -- my mom would want it that way -- but I'll be changed, as well as the rest of the family and those who knew her.

But mostly I will remember the shortest verse in the Bible. When told of the death of Lazarus, the verse says "Jesus wept."

If Jesus can do that, so can C. S. Lewis, and all of us.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
anandi
(¤ thank you for reading this review and for your vote ¤)

INTRO:
"In April 1956, C.S. Lewis, a confirmed bachelor, married Joy Davidman [known as H. in the book], an American poet with two small children. After four brief, intensely happy years, Lewis found himself alone again, and inconsolable. To defend himself against the loss of belief in God, Lewis wrote this journal, an eloquent statement of rediscovered faith. In it he freely confesses his doubts, his rage, and his awareness of human frailty. In it he finds again the way back to life" writes publisher on the back-cover.

I read this book while mourning my grandmother, and I did not find the book as comforting as I thought it would be. I wished so much to give this read a 5 stars like the majority of reviewers, but I cannot, for the following reasons: a) the jacket over-promises (of "comforting thousands" and "will be a comfort and inspiration to anyone who has ever lost a loved one"), b) archaic and difficult language, c) short bursts of argumentation without much fill-in explanations and randomness of thought (no clear pattern). Allow me to explain the "+"es and "-"es of these reasons in the context of the book with examples, as found under CONTENT.

Also, C.S. Lewis's notes on grieving (the 4 chapters that make up "A Grief Observed") provided me with some good meat for thought, for my soul, and some great QUOTES (see CONCLUSION section).

AUTHOR:
Most people are familiar with who C.S. Lewis is (a short wikipedia search will provide most info necessary).

EDITION:
Bantman Books, 14th printing in 1988, with an afterword by Chad Walsh. This edition contains the 4 chapters of C.S. Lewis's grieving notes (pgs.1-89) followed by "another book" - "Afterword by Chad Walsh" (pgs.93-151) where Chad (an American professor of English and poet) gives us a very upclose & personal biography of C.S. Lewis as a close friend.

CONTENT:
"The notes have been about myself, about H. [Joy Davidman Lewis], and about God." confesses C.S. Lewis pg.71 - chapter IV. The book is broken into 4 title-less chapters (probably the areas where C.S. Lewis took breaks). He starts the book with the line "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear" and goes on discussing his emotions and thoughts and also fears (is God a bad one, a "Cosmic Sadist" - pg.43,45; do the departed also mourn; normalcy sets in again in one's life).

a) overpromises -
The four chapters provided me with a picture into C.S. Lewis's mind and emotions. Some of these I could related to, but others were a bit convoluted, distant, or confusing. I believe that each one of us GRIEVES personally and we also draw strength from our community. Being CONSOLED, finding your way through your BEREAVEMENT is a very personal process. Many of us will probably never ask the questions or bring up the arguments found in this book, but nevertheless, they help in having a broader picture on GRIEF.

b) language -
C.S. Lewis is the Cambridge professor who wrote the textbook for Middle Ages Literature, so as such be expected to find lots of "vacuity" when the text "geometrizes" your vocabulary and "vivisects" your word knowledge. C.S. Lewis also makes some use of mythological figures and contemporary personalities in his analogies (the store, Penthesileia, Camilla, Queen Victoria). Also, one should be up on their Bible knowledge (Solomon, St.Paul, Stephen the fist martyr, and Lazarus). Knowledge of Latin is esential to understand the last sentence of the book (pg.89) - "Poi si torno all eterna fontana" - a quote from Dante's Paradise and means "then she turned back to the Eternal Fountain." But if you feel that you are caught in "culs de sac" (pg.55) you are not alone. Some annotations by the publishers would have been helpful.

c) argumentation and randomness of thought -
Again, these are the notes of a great literary mind, but that does not mean that they follow logically or have been organized for easy digestion. Even C.S. Lewis admits, after a retrospective reflection "Why do I make room in my mind for such filth and nonsense?" and "these notes the senseless writhings of a man" (pg.38 - chapter II). Make no mistake about it, C.S. Lewis will take you on a very interesting journey where he analyzes various thoughts, feelings, moods, emotions, and doubts. Sometimes his arugment is pure madness if not simply blasphamous ("We set Christ against it. But how if He were mistaken? .... " paragraph in chapter II, my pg. 34). Some arguments are very terse, others long-winded and with some tangents. They all reflect the mind, spirit, and soul of a grieving person.

CONCLUSION:
Bottom line is, this book is no easy thing to read, let alone understand everything read. Although it must be said, it is a great book to have discussed in a reading club, or for anyone grieving a loved one.
The wONDERFUL QUOTES alone are worth the price:

Chapter I
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." (pg.1)
"Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything." (pg.11)
"You can't share someone else's weakness, or fear or pain." (pg. 13)
"nature never plays exactly the same tune twice." (pg.16)

Chapter II
"The most precious gift that marriage gave me was this constant impact of something very close and intimate yet all the time unmistakably other, resistant - in a word, real." (pg.20)
"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death." (pg.25)
"the past is the past and that is what time means, and time itself is one more name for death, and Heaven itself is a state where 'the former things have passed away' " (pg.28)
"Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." (pg.28)
"Aren't all these notes the senseless writhings of a man who won't accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it?" (pg.38)
"It doesn't really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist's chair or let your hands lie in your lap. The drill drills on." (pg.38)
"Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness." (pg.39)

Chapter III
"Grief is like a bomber circling round and dropping its bombs each time the circle brings it overhead; physical pain is like the steady barrage on a trench in World War One, hours of it with no let-up for a moment." (pg.47)
"My love for H. [Joy Davidman Lewis] was of much the same quality as my faith in God" (pg.48)
"You can't see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears. You can't, in most things, get what you want if you want it too desperately" (pg.53)
"passionate grief does not link us with the dead but cuts us off from them" (pg.64)
"the less I mourn her the nearer I seem to her" (pg.66)
"For in grief nothing 'stays put' " (pg.67)

Chapter IV
"Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape." (pg.69)
"If you are approaching Him [God] not as the goal but as a road, not as the end but as a means, you're not really approaching Him [God] at all." (pg.79)
"this is one of the miracles of love; it gives- to both, .. a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted." (pg.84)
"God. His love and His knowledge are not distinct from one another. .. He sees because He loves, and therefore loves although He sees." (pg.84)
"We cannot understand. The best is perhaps what we understand least." (pg.89, 3rd last paragraph).

(¤ thank you for reading this review and for your vote ¤)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
allison newton
I have read a number of C.S. Lewis "Christian Apologetic" works as well as the Narnia series and some of his other allegorical fiction. The gift that Lewis gives us in most of his work is his relentless, often remorseless observation of his own soul and the inner lives of his characters. After having confronted his, and other people's, common excuses for so long (and sometimes maybe simplistically), in 1960 his wife Joy died after their all-too-brief relationship and marriage. In this journal he shares his fears, his raw pain, his loss, his confusion, and his doubts in the same honest manner. Using words and concepts seldom admitted to among authors who write about their faith, he demonstrates that yes, sometimes dark thoughts are part of the process and yes, God knows all about them and is neither afraid of them nor vulnerable to them. What a precious gift to the believer who finds him / herself at the end of their rope.

If the reader is actively grieving this may not be the perfect book to read AT THE MOMENT (everyone's grief is different), but I recommend it for anyone who finds it difficult to see giants of the Christian faith as human beings with flaws and chips and cracks and Not All The Answers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
temmy arthapuri
After the death of his wife, Joy Davidman, in 1960, C. S. Lewis, the widely-read Christian apologist and scholar of medieval literature, used a series of notebook entries to vent, to explore, to question, to explain, and to come to terms with his grief and his God. The result, originally published pseudonymously in 1961, is a deeply personal examination of faith, doubt, pain, and intense love. This short book manifests the same depth and clarity of thought that are the hallmarks of Lewis's most popular works, but it has the added quality of introspection and even expurgation that his other works appropriately do not have. The arresting opening line--"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear"--makes it clear how unexpected Lewis's experience was. It was not the death that was unexpected (indeed, Joy had been ill for some time). Rather, it was the way in which her death reached places inside him that perhaps he had not explored before, simply because he had never loved anyone in that way before. To lose her was to lose a part of himself. No wonder it felt like fear. This is not a book that tries to comfort the reader. It does not minimize the pain of loss, nor does Lewis take refuge in assurances that "she is in a better place." It is an honest, tough-minded chronicle of one man's attempt to do justice both to his love for his wife and God's love for His creatures.

While exploring his grief and the limits of his willingness to give God the benefit of the doubt, Lewis discovers many things about himself. I liked this one (p. 52): "God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn't." It is typical Lewis, but directed at his own faith rather than at the proposition of faith in general. This is a book well worth reading for anyone who is interested in the spiritual dimension of grief, the resilience of faith through the crucible of pain, or the life of C. S. Lewis.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
augend
This book was recommended to me when my wonderful wife died from cancer after our marriage of only 4 1/2 years. We were thoroughly crazy about one another and were childhood friends since the 6th grade. I must admit I waited many years to read this and should have read it much earlier. While I never lost my faith I was so very angry with God (as well as the world in general) for a considerable time. I was simply angry that he allowed a strong young Christian lady to die and I knew He could have prevented this. I later found, in this book, Lewis struggled with similar feelings as well as our mutual feeling of complete isolation and loss (which could not be relieved by friends, family, church, ministers or Scripture, not in the least). Although my wife was very confident in her faith and discussed it openly (as well as Heaven-her approaching home) I failed to look at "The Big-Picture" while focusing on the immediate gulf and dark pit in my life. It took me many years to read this book, relating to Lewis and getting the big-picture etc.. My wife was right when she said, "It actually makes no difference whether we live to be 29 years of age (her age at her death) or 80 years of age, what matters is God and our eternal home since we are ALL simply going to die and this world is a brief visit, regardless of anything else." Lewis and I finally got it.........
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
amy rose
Maybe it's because I have reached the mourning period of losing my mother where I no longer want to whallow in it. Maybe it's because I was told by many that although I'm not a Christian, I can take parts from this book; his words of wisdom, despair and light at the end of the book and apply it to my own experience.

Although I didn't lose a spouse like CS Lewis did, I watched my father's pain losing my mother. I had my own pain as well. In reading the first chapter I found myself shaking my head to myself relating to some of his questioning, some of his anger, underlinging some feelings he expressed that felt like my own. This is where I then became annoyed I bought the book. I won't give away the ending, but I will say I didn't find what some said I would.

I found after a few pages everything was related to Christianity. I guess I wanted to read about this man's journey without bible quotes. And to be quite frank, after a while I grew weary of his anger.

I would recommend this book to someone in the very beginnings of mourning. Someone who lost a spouse. Someone is a Christian. For me it was a bit too much and I gave my copy to the library in hopes it finds a nice home. It didn't belong in mine.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
evert hilhorst
In 1961, an unknown writer by the name N.W. Clerk published one of the most stirring accounts of grief and loss that has ever been penned. The only problem was N.W. Clerk did not exist. The book was written by the Christian apologist and scholar C.S. Lewis. If The Problem of Pain deals solely with the intellectual problem of evil, A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis' attempt to describe the existential or emotional aspects of the problem of evil. The book is a chronicle of the writer's grief after the passing of his beloved wife of only a few years. After writing letters to each other for a time, the elder Oxford bachelor married Helen Joy Davidson because of the threat of deportation to the states. From the beginning of the relationship, Davidson was ill and dying of cancer. Yet, through an extraordinary example of love, courage and personal surrender, Lewis married the only love of his life anyway. Her departure created what anyone else would describe as a crisis of belief. The noted defender of mere Christianity began to experience the dark night of the soul that is so common to those affected by grief.

Lewis opens chapter one pointing out that "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear" (3). The complexities of losing someone you love are deep for him. Grief, embarrassment, fear and drunkenness are all ways that Lewis describes the experience of his pain. The common sense belief that "I was happy before" and can return to such a state fades away as he realizes that her love was too weighty and transformative for such cold logic to mend his sorrow. All throughout this ordeal, the question of God's nearness is raised. "Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?" (6). Quaint, well-intentioned statements about the suffering of Christ do not alleviate the hurt because, though he may understand the pain, the griever's experience of God's absence is unbearable. Lewis does not seem to deny God's existence; it is his goodness that is questioned. He writes, "Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about him" (6). For him, the fact that God is not near speaks against his benevolence. Amidst the grief, the writer struggles to find people to talk with about the pain. To some, to mention her death is an embarrassment. To others, Lewis' very presence is "a death's head" because he is not the same person. He is missing something. Lewis goes on to describe the nature of a loved one dying of cancer and how it sets the people who suffer on different paths. They both suffer, but the suffering is not the same. He writes, "I had my miseries, not hers she had hers, not mine. The end of hers would be the coming-of-age of mine. We were setting out of different roads" (13). Lewis closes the chapter rebuking those who view death as a friend or as inconsequential. As long as one loves another and that one is taken away so that the lover cannot experience their joyful presence anymore, death remains important. Her death holds the power to turn the apologist into a weeping child.

Chapter two contains similar themes and reflections evident within the earlier one. The author seeks to think about other things but finds he is "thinking about her nearly always." Her absence is excruciatingly clear because the marriage bond gave the writer a "constant impact of something very close and intimate yet all the time unmistakably other" (18-19). Her nearness was too good to merely forget about like some cold, hollow fact. Lewis recounts a meeting of a man he had not seen in ten years. Obviously, the man's actual existence was quite different than he had remembered. Will this happen to Joy? The author fears that his memories will fade and all that will be left is her grave. And to him, she is not there. He cannot even pray for her because there's too much bewilderment and amazement involved. The apologist begins to question the nature of the afterlife. Though an interesting thought and reality, Lewis' wife being in heaven does not alleviate his grief. It cannot. He will listen to someone talk about the truth of religion. He will listen to someone talk about the duty of religion. But, C.S. Lewis just cannot listen to someone talk about the consolation of religion because for him, there currently is none. The writer spends the good part of three pages discussing God's desire to wound those he loves, his lack of goodness and the fact that he is nowhere to be found. He finally returns to the unreasonableness of an evil God but closes the chapter again amidst the stupor of an agonizing heartache.

What grounds does the author have for questioning the goodness of God? Lewis knows that suffering is promised to all those who believe. Yet, his faith has not helped him. Because of the pain, Lewis finds that his faith "...was not faith but imagination" (37). His faith was untested faith that was exposed to the horrors of death and it changed. The author admits that all his talk about a possible sadist God is really nothing more than an expression of hatred. He writes, "I was getting from it the only pleasure a man in anguish can get; the pleasure of hitting back" (40). During the tribulation, Lewis wakes up one morning to find that his affliction has slightly changed. The man is able to see the beauty in the world while remembering the beauty of his beloved wife. This leads him to extol the goodness of her love while also questioning the nature of what it means for God to speak during our woes. Maybe our grief causes us to deafen our ears to his voice? Maybe our cries drown out the still small voice? Lewis' consolation was only momentary because the "hells of a young grief have opened again" (56). The section closes with yet another anguished night for the learned man.

In the last portion of the book, the apologist discovers that grief is a process with many phases, feelings and new experiences. He fears that one day their love will merely be a charming episode reflected upon within a rather normal, unchanged life. Such hindsight is feared by Lewis as a second death. The chapter gives evidence that Lewis found strength to faithfully trust in God who seemed to finally return to the bereaved disciple. He finds that he "needs Christ, not something that resembles Him...[He needs] H., not something like her" (65). His relationship with Joy is now much like his relationship with God. He says, "...loving her has become, in its measure, like loving Him. In both cases I must stretch out the arms and hands of love" (66). He has to think about Joy the way he thinks about God. They must be true thoughts; not those based upon what he wants to remember one for. The chapter moves near the end with Lewis describing the nature of what it means to trust God, the reunion with loved ones and what God wants from those who suffer. He does not find a locked door anymore as he asks his timely questions. "It is more like a silent...gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, `Peace, child; you don't understand'" (69). The book ends with Joy's last words of "I am at peace with God'" (76).

As I read the book, I tended to wince at the parts where Lewis tended to shake his hands at heaven. I then realized that the pain Lewis felt was a result of love. It was its servant. A Grief Observed provides a very stunning portrayal of love between a married couple. The fact that such intense grief appears throughout the pages of the book is testimony to the immensity and profundity of their love. The greater the relationship, the more devastating the agony that results from a rift in it. He asks "Why was H. not to me? She was my daughter and my mother, my pupil and my teacher, my subject and my sovereign; and always, holding all these in solution, my trusty comrade, friend, shipmate, fellow-soldier. My mistress; but at the same time all that any man friend (and I have good ones) has ever been to me. Perhaps more" (48). While noting all the good things about his beloved, he also notes that her mere companionship was the most precious gift. In a world where vain pursuits, money and looks define a relationship, A Grief Observed offers a younger generation a representation of what it means to give yourself to another.

The book is also heart-wrenchingly honest in its descriptions about what death robs from lovers. Trite statements of "it will all work out in time" and "you'll see them again" belittle the suffering being experienced by the bereaved. It was refreshing to see the very academically astute writer depict the very common, viscerally life-changing effects of what death does to the human soul. He is right to reject death as a "friend" though it brings us to see the Lord's face. For the Christian, death still remains an enemy though the sting of death (the Law) has been removed. While I do not know how I would respond to God in the same situation, I can at least appreciate C.S. Lewis' straightforward recounting of what he actually experienced. Christians still grieve albeit they grieve with hope. One thing I noticed that was lacking from the text was any statements made concerning how his church or friends were there for the man. He admitted he had great friends but that statement left me asking "where are they?" Though their words would not change the situation, their mere quiet presence (unlike the friends of Job) could have prevented Lewis many of the outlandish flights from true statements about God's nearness. I get the sense that Lewis isolated himself during his misery. Something else to be praised concerning the book is its brevity. If the book was any longer, my interest would have waned because one can only look into such mourning for so long. It would've begun to take an emotional toll on my own life.

I'm hesitant to offer critiques of the book because of its nature. The work feels less like a book and more like a personal journal that Lewis utilized during a dark period in his life. Who am I to critique someone's sufferings? I have experienced loss within my immediate family because of cancer and have thought and felt similar emotions as the apologist. When someone is in the midst of terrible feelings of distress, they tend to affirm things they, when thinking lucidly, reject latter. At times the book did not seem to possess an extended argument advanced throughout its pages but that's the nature of grief. It comes and goes in waves. I would say that A Grief Observed should be read alongside or included with The Problem of Pain. In a lot of ways, the book functioned as the opposite side of the same coin. If he appeared emotionally detached in one, he most certainly made up for the lack in another. The book is valuable to learn the varied dimensions of what it means to have faith during times of loss. In reading about his pain, one can learn about his or her own maladies. He or she can be taught what it means to be human with the imminent knowledge of mortality. Because of that, I would recommend this book to anyone going through the loss of someone dear.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
diane norton
Point: Grief can drive us to, or away from, God, depending on who we view as the ultimate good, ourself or God.

Path: This short work is a collection from Lewis’ journals, or perhaps the whole thing, following the death of his wife. Here one is able to read how a grieving man views life and death, the goodness and mystery of God. Following his wife’s death after her fight with cancer, Lewis questions "what is God doing?"

Sources: an intimate association with grief and pain.

Agreement: I appreciated the openness of Lewis. He would say something, then think about why he said it, then explain what actually was leading him to say that. It was as though he were peeling back the layers of his own soul so that he might really know what was going on.

Personal App: Writing out ones thoughts allows one see what they truly think.

Favorite Quote: “What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know he is good’? Have then never even been to a dentist?”

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
janet newport
My first introduction to CS Lewis was his famous Chronicals way back when I was in forth grade. I never bothered to read him again until my husband saw me struggling with comparing myself to other women in our church or to my mother-- God help me, she is a brilliant lady-- and seeing my insecurities rise to levels unknown before (I was pregnant.) He brought me the Screwtape Letters and this man whose life had seemed so far from mine reached to my heart and he spoke with elequence yet reached to my level. We shared them with our children and it's a running joke in our family to say, "Screwtape's been messing with your mind again. . ."

A Grief Observed was one of my husband's gifts to me recently after my dad died. I was having nightmares of his death then becoming saddened in the daylight hours when I realised that I couldn't remember what he looked like. I have been trained in Hospice and counseled people through grief, yet was in shock when it happened to me. When my husband gave me this book, I opened it to a page where CS was talking about how he couldn't remember what his wife looked like, that pictures were meaningless-- once again, he was where I was, on my level with me. In spite of me being Russian Orthodox and CS being western in his thought, his writingis influenced by his search for knowing God, not by any particular church and I appreciate that and can relate to him very well.

I have perused this book many times. When someone dies in our society, there is no prescribed time for mourning for immediate family members. I found that my mother was the one to be comforted more than anything--- as his widow, she deserves that-- but in spite of being an adult child, I still hurt and cry at different times and the hurt surprises me for when it hits. In spite of CS writing about his wife, this is a great companion for "lesser mourners" as well as the main person affected. This book is a great comfort to anyone who experiences a loss of someone they love.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
blessing
Another author I've been reading and loving, Philip Yancey, has admired and quoted C. S. Lewis so often, my curiosity compelled me to read one of his works.

Although he's a very thoughtful, spiritual, loving man, and poured his heart out in his grief over the loss of his wife with so much passion, I'm currently in the throes of my new found faith and in such a joyous place that anything to do with grief is lost on me at the present time.

I was struck, however with the stark similarity I found in his grief (and possibly the grief of others losing a beloved mate) between what he felt and what it feels like to be in a clinical depression. It's impossible for someone that hasn't been there to understand the depth of alteration a person goes through, but many of the feelings Mr Lewis described brought back a familiar twinge to me. I've been depression-free for many years since the advent of Prozac, and what this book did do for me was to renew my gratitude once again that the disease was treatable for me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
magdy badr
This was a deeply personal book about the intense grief Lewis was feeling after losing his wife. This book was written 20 years after The Problem of Pain (see note below), and begun less than a month after losing his wife Helen to Cancer. For the three years prior to her death, Lewis had nursed his wife and watched her slowly die. His thoughts on pain have become quite personal now. He is a grieving Christian man, suffering deep pain at the loss of his wife, his friend, and his lover.

The book is a collection of thoughts that he wrote, and as Lewis says, "sometimes yelled" into his notebooks. It is a brief yet powerful summary of what he describes as "one tenth of the thoughts" during his period of mourning. Lewis is a profoundly spiritual man who has spent the better part of his career telling the world about the beauty, grace, and consolation of the Christian faith, but in this work you see him as man wrestling with his own faith, doubting not only everything he has believed, but regretting the platitudes and consolations' he has said in the past to other people to comfort their pain. He recoils at the kind words of well meaning friends who mindlessly repeat memorized messages of hope and strength in God, the kind so often heard in funeral parlors and read in greeting cards. He refers to his own faith as a "house of cards", tumbling at the slightest breeze.

He learns about the cycle of sadness and the awful pangs of guilt one feels when, just for a second, they almost forgot to grieve for those they've lost. He wrestles with all of the emotions of grieving while trying to comprehend his own feelings of spiritual doubt and self doubt.

Ultimately, his faith once again begins to sustain him. He brings The Lord into his suffering, and he begins to realize that his grief and sorrow were actually keeping him further away from honestly remembering his wife, and truly seeing her in his heart. He learns how to remember his wife without recreating her through distorted memories and imaginings. Finally, he comes to find peace. This little book documents that journey, to the extent that he has allowed us to see.

This is a book for those who are suffering. It is for those who have lost someone so near to them that the thought of going on without them seems unbearable. I believe that Lewis' very personal and blatant honesty will help those who are suffering with their own struggles and doubts of faith. Perhaps if they read it completely, they will be comforted in the knowledge they too can find their way back to a loving God, and that they will find Him waiting with opens arms.

-------------------

NOTE: Prior to reading this book I reviewed C.S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain. I mention this only because many people confuse these two books, and they really couldn't be more different. I ultimately reached the conclusion that that particular work belongs more in the "Exploring Christianity" section than in the "Healing" section. To the best of my limited ability I made the case that Lewis' approach to discussing the pain and evil in the world were strong, compelling, and theologically beautiful, but perhaps bit impersonal to be considered appropriate for someone actively in a period of personal suffering. Please refer to that review for a further explanation.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jenica
This is another amazing book by Lewis, and another that I have read multiple times. I have had to read it for at least three university courses over the last 18 years. This book is unlike anything else that Lewis ever wrote. It is raw, visceral and at times disturbing, unlike most of his other work that is very precise, specific, well argued and clearly laid out.

Recently I heard this story: `Douglas Gresham, C.S. Lewis's stepson recently released a book about Lewis called Jack's Life. It includes a DVD interview, where Gresham states that Lewis did not intend to publish A Grief Observed; it was a personal notebook. When it was published it was under the pseudonym NW Clark and by a publisher Lewis had never published with. Gresham also said that Lewis received numerous copies of the book as gifts from friends who thought it would help.' That speaks to the power in Lewis's writing; even his friends thought the book would be helpful for him as he journeyed through his grief.

Lewis states in his book The Four Loves: "We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him, throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it." That view is drastically changed when he writes Grief. In A Grief Observed we have a very different approach. Lewis presents a very visceral response to the loss of his wife. An example of this is that Lewis states at the beginning of the book: "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." This book shows us more of Lewis's own heart and life than almost anything else he wrote.

It is a great book for those dealing with loss - either for yourself or for someone you know and love. It is often used in grief counseling, and one of the courses I read it for was on the spirituality of death and dying. This book is a gem in the cannon of Lewis literature. It will not disappoint.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christina kingsley
The fact that only five stars can be awarded is, in this case, a travesty. The acuity of Lewis' mind, in direct correlation with his ability to transfer his thoughts to paper is that which places him amongst the most riveting authors of the twentieth century, if not of all time. It is by the pen of this individual that many have come to understand the Christian religion with greater confidence due to the fact that Lewis has a way of evoking personal sentiments that may have been otherwise buried in the subconscious. It is from the mind of Lewis that some have come to terms with The Problem of Pain. From this same mind, others have been provided with the information necessary to see through the theological differences across Christian boundaries in an effort to discover Mere Christianity. However, A Grief Observed is a work of art like no other.

What differentiates this work from all others is that Lewis applies his amazing ability to the evaluation of his own mind, as opposed to an effort directed towards helping others grasp difficult concepts. A Grief Observed may be the most honest and moving literary masterpiece ever created by a human hand. It appears as if Lewis commenced the documentation of his experience uncertain of whether he would publish it for public consumption, or retain it for his own purposes. It would be difficult to determine if Lewis, himself, knew with any degree of certainty what was to become of his somewhat stream of consciousness jottings when he began. This stream of consciousness, however, could not be compared to that of James Joyce or the like. While it is jumbled at times - as one might expect the mind operating after a significant loss - Lewis maintains a flow of logic and reasoning that is just as seemingly clairvoyant as his most premeditated works.

Many may turn to this short work only after themselves suffering a personal loss. While one cannot be certain as to how reading this would affect their grievances; it is fairly apparent throughout this work that Lewis would not expect that anything created by the hands of man could dampen the blow suffered by the loss of a loved one. However, the fortunate might be those that have an opportunity to experience this amazing walk through another man's thoughts while they are free from their own emotional suffering. Whatever it is that might bring an individual to the thought of examining A Grief Observed, it can be assured that they only serve to gain by following through with their initial curiosity. To expect this work to fill a void would be comparable to throwing a penny into the Grand Canyon; outside of this expectation, this text is worth its weight in life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
julian daniels
When suffering from grief who better to place your heart with than C.S. Lewis, the master at heartfelt emotions and faith.

C.S. Lewis wrote this little book during the process of grieving for his beloved wife, Joy. He brings his raw emotions forward and shares the act of grief in a very human and profound message. Showing a variety of emotions he spans the process of mourning and makes the act appear "normal" even when the slightest steps of self-care become a chore. Lewis braves the unthinkable and questions a God that allows despair and refuses to comfort the one left behind. Few would voice this common feeling but Lewis goes beyond simply voicing his doubt and eventually unravels the mystery of faith during the most horrible of times. Jesus Christ even experienced this desolate feeling crying out to God as he hung dying on the cross....so if He must go through such a bitter process why would the average human being expect any different? Realizing this places a perspective on the pain and allows us to stop questioning whether death and loss arrives in a package entirely explainable. It happens at exactly the right time for the one who passes and we must learn to accept this despite our lack of understanding. As Lewis writes so eloquently, "Fate (or whatever it is) delights to produce a great capacity and then frustrate it."

Lewis takes standard thought processes and analyzes the theories behind their meaning and by doing so he helps the grieving process immensely. Hearing how our beloveds are with God causes one to ask, were they not "with God" before they died? And all those prayers said at bedsides and funerals, some with "miracles" attached and others seemingly lost actions are examined by Lewis as a process of torment by God, at once gracious only to prepare another torture in the end. Lewis reveals his anger towards God in hopes of leading to a deeper understanding of what faith really means. Grief becomes an act of desperation according to Lewis and seeing through tears often leads to blurred vision. Grief is merely fear incarnated. Ultimately it is through the observance of the dying that we discover the definitive peace and eventually find solace in faith.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tori macallister
One of the things I've always loved about C. S. Lewis is that there isn't the slightest hint of fakery in him. When you read his words, you read his heart. This is most true in his book, A Grief Observed.

These "jottings" were made in Lewis's private journals after the death of his wife, Joy, from cancer. They weren't intended for publication when written, but Jack later decided that they might help someone else who might be going through a similar experience as he.

This is Jack Lewis as Jacob, wrestling with God. It is not always a pleasant sight to behold, and yet we cannot take our eyes off it. He bites and scratches and yells at God at the top of his lungs, then falls back in a heaving mass of quivering flesh. But like Jacob of old, Lewis will not turn loose until God blesses him. And ultimately God does bless him - and us through him.

There are too many profound passages to quote. And we don't really want to quote everything. It would be like uncovering a secret. Lewis honesty sometimes borders on discomfort, a discomfort we feel with him and, if we have experienced a similar loss, understand.

The first sentence of the book sent sharp razors of memory through me. "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." After my father died, I remember that strange sensation myself. I didn't realize that grief manifested itself like fear. Lewis goes on to describe his mourning in terms so eloquent, and yet, when we read them, so real. In speaking about the memory of his wife showing up at particular times and in particular places, Lewis says no. "Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything." He speaks of how her face is becoming blurred in his memory, while her voice is still vivid. "The remembered voice - that can turn me at any moment to a whimpering child."

Lewis eventually finds his way through the terrifying maze of grief and finds that the God he was wrestling with was holding him in His arms all the time. "God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn't."

The lesson, for me, is that our ideas of how things "ought to be" are illusions of the truth that really is. God, through the natural process of death and grieving shatters our illusions and causes us to come face to face with truth. This is often extraordinarily painful. Says Lewis, "My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence?"

Dr. Mike Kear
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
oezay
I am *very* deeply moved by this account of the feelings and thoughts C.S. Lewis shared from his time of grief. It's an extremely brave thing to make himself vulnerable in this way, especially a man who spent so much time weaving a powerfully rational case for the Christian faith. For him to openly reveal his doubt, fear, and even anger is a truly courageous act. Lewis has now gone on to meet his Creator and has the answers to all his questions and the end to all his anguish, but for those of us who live now, he has left an amazing gift.
I have not lost a spouse or immediate family member, but not too long ago I went through a three-month period that seemed like some sort of hell on Earth to me where loss seemed to strike everywhere around me. I felt like it was circling me in a very predatory manner. One particular loss hit me with unexpected force (not to diminish any of the others), and perhaps for the very first time in my life I truly grieved for a person, and still do in a way (it never truly ends--we simply find a way of picking up the pieces and putting them into a new pattern). Reading A Grief Obserrved was a tremendous help to me because it helped me not to be ashamed or isolated in the feelings I had--once this is dispensed with, it becomes a bit easier to truly integrate the experience (I say this rather than "move past"...while you ought not "dwell in it" forever, you ought not bury it, either. Neither do any good).
Perhaps the bravest part of this journal, in my opinion, is where Lewis admits openly to his anger at God, his doubts. Especialy for someone such as him, this is most courageous. In my case it took a terrible nightmare to truly make me face the fact that I was *angry*. I was sad, I begged God to stop the unbroken chain of losses, but I was *angry* too, angry especially at the fact that every one of the dead was middle-aged, much as Lewis' wife was, and "should have" had much more time. I was terrified, felt my life had gone out of control, that my moods were uncontrollable, and that none of it was at all fair. I wanted peace and reconciliation so terribly much, but it wouldn't come. These are also much like things Lewis describes.
One statement of Lewis' hit me very hard and, I think, explained to me why peace wouldn't come. Lewis and I both cried out at one point that we felt we'd found, at the time we needed Him the most, "a door slammed in [our faces]". But then, he realizes a thing that fits perfectly with my own experiences: "Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can't give it: you are like the drowning man who clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear." For me, true peace is usually heralded by a dream. When I cried to God for it, struggled to create it by force in myself, it wouldn't come. But then one morning as I lay there in a peaceful state, I gently slipped away into it without any effort to get there or, once I realized what it was, any struggle to hold myself in it. It simply *was*--perhaps because I finally just lay back and opened the door to what was there all along...there was never any abandonment by God.
This is not to say we should try to curtail the grieving process. We have to endure it--that's how we deal with things. But it can help, even if just a bit, to see your own experiences, even the darkest parts, mirrored in those of another. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has suffered or is suffering from grief. If you're getting it for someone else, please be aware that they will take it in only in their own time, no one else's--or they may ultimately have to find a different way for themselves. Please don't take that as a rejection of you and your gift, or a devaluation of this book. But for those who *do* choose this, I can say I believe it will be meaningful.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sandra tirado
C.S. Lewis is perhaps best known for children's stories that also delight adults; however, during his lifetime he was best known as an inspirational speaker, not quite in the same line as modern televangelists, but nonetheless a crowd-pleaser who had subtle but strong theology to share.
C.S. Lewis was a confirmed bachelor (not that he was a 'confirmed bachelor', mind you, just that he had become set enough in his ways over time that he no longer held out the prospect of marriage or relationships). Then, into his comfortable existence, a special woman, Joy Davidson, arrived. They fell in love quickly, and had a brief marriage of only a few years, when Joy died of cancer.
This left Lewis inconsolable.
For his mother had also died of cancer, when he was very young.
Cancer, cancer, cancer!
Lewis goes through a dramatic period of grief, from which he never truly recovers (according to the essayist Chad Walsh, who writes a postscript to Lewis' book). He died a few years later, the same day as the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
However, Lewis takes the wonderful and dramatic step of writing down his grief to share with others. The fits and starts, the anger, the reconciliation, the pain--all is laid bare for the reader to experience. So high a cost for insight is what true spirituality requires. An awful, awe-ful cost and experience.
'Did you know, dear, how much you took away with you when you left? You have stripped me even of my past...'
All that was good paled in comparison to the loss. How can anything be good again? This is such an honest human feeling, that even the past is no longer what is was in relation to the new reality of being alone again.
In the end, Lewis reaches a bit of a reconciliation with his feelings, and with God.
'How wicked it would be, if we could, to call the dead back. She said not to me, but to the chaplain, "I am at peace with God." '
Lewis had a comfortable, routine life that was jolted by love, and then devasted by loss. Through all of this, he took pains to recount what he was going through, that it might not be lost, that it might benefit others, that there might be some small part of his love for Joy that would last forever.
I hope it shall.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ludovica
I was cringing at his expressions towards God sometimes. Yet, as one who suffered the agony of losing my father at 18 I felt for him.

But something inside me still thought, "He didn't understand what it meant to suffer" or "How come he wasn't ready for this?" He seemed to be missing the point. As a great Christian thinker I expected more. I was an 18 year old boy who hadn't a thought for God. This man said he knew God. And yet what can I expect from a man going through the anguish of grief? Did not king David also suffer thoughts similar to these? How will I respond to such circumstances in my life when they inevitably come? The last part of the book sees Lewis start to turn the corner.

I think about death a lot. I think about my own death and the death of others. I accept it as part of life. It scares me, confuses me, but I accept it and try to prepare for it. So I wondered why a man of his popularity had been so stricken by it. I lost my father before coming to Jesus, and so I have never grieved as a Christian. Maybe I'm not in a place to judge him until I have suffered loss like that in a Christian context.

An intense, real look at death and grief. I would recommend everyone, especially young people, to read this.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rebeca
"A Grief Observed" is a collection of notebook entries penned by Lewis after the death of his wife. In the introduction Madeleine L'engle writes, "I am grateful to Lewis for having the courage to yell, to doubt, to kick at God in angry violence. This is a part of grief which is not often encouraged." When I first encountered Lewis' yelling and kicking, I was not thankful. I was uncomfortable. I didn't want one of my heroes in the faith talking to and about God like this. I wanted him to grieve with sure and steady faith. My discomfort with grief and all that it brings with it was being revealed. As I finished the book I was grateful to have had my own faith poked and proded and my heart exposed. Whereas I didn't agree with all of Lewis' doctrine, I appreciated his willingness to take it out and look at it again.

I would offer one recommendation to anyone reading this book. Try to read it in one or two sittings. In doing so you will be able to better see the process of Lewis' grief. You will see that as the process of mourning unfolds there are still questions and doubts, but there are also honest admissions of immaturity and self-pity. You will see how Lewis looks back at earlier entries, written in deep darkness, and sees them more clearly as the sun was beginning to rise. His willingness to deal with his own questions and doubts is refreshing as he comes back to the same, solid truths that he held before and is able to approach them with eyes more widely opened by grief.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ujjyini
Written in the aftermath of his beloved wife's death, C.S. Lewis's "A Grief Observed" is the great Christian apologist's literary attempt to make sense of the emotional and mental chaos in which he finds himself following that tragic event. A far cry from the scholarly analysis of most of his other books, "A Grief Observed" is in many ways a book of questions in which the author grapples with trying to understand why God would take his beloved from him, what sort of being God must be, what his wife is now experiencing in the next world and what all this means to his own faith and the rest of his life. Lewis, quite understandably, is not his usual self here, and the voice of "A Grief Observed" is not at all the same one of "The Screwtape Letters" or "Mere Christianity." Indeed, it is the naked, heartbroken pain with which Lewis infuses this book (originally published pseudonymously)that makes it such an important, vital, and universal literary achievement. Unfortunately, there are many (quite a few of them have written the store reviews)who seem to take some sort of ghoulish delight in Lewis's anguish, as though "A Grief Observed" in some way invalidates all that Lewis had written before, as if Lewis's other books are all irrelevant because he had not previously suffered enough to have written authoritatively on matters like spirituality, pain, and the afterlife. That is sadistic balderdash, and metaphorically kicking a great man when he is down. But there's no denying this is Lewis's most personal, heartfelt work, and its power is awesome. Ultimately, the reader will see a powerful mind and will "come to misunderstand a little less completely" one of this world's most agonizing puzzles, the paralysis of loss, and that in the end faith and God remain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
scorpio mom
I picked this book up my junior year of college. It had been a long day, so I went to Barnes and Noble to relax. I found the book and brought it home, and since I'd just paid for it, I decided to read the first chapter before I passed out(fell asleep). BIG MISTAKE!!! I was so engrossed that I read the entire book before I turned out the light!
C.S. Lewis, of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA and THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS fame wrote this book right after his wife died from a battle with cancer. Like any human would do, Lewis had settled into grief, and was not able to find comfort. He did not sit down to write this book per se, he just sat down and started pouring his heart into notebooks. What you get is a very honest look into the heart of a man, who is dealing with one of the deepest sorrows that can be felt.
I was brought back to this book when I decided to give a message on despair to my Wednesday Night Youth Group. I gave the message, and then finished up with approx. 5 excerpts from the book that took about 5 minutes to read. At the end there were two people who I could see were fighting back tears, and everyone was responding physically to what they were hearing it was that powerful.
*****Final Thoughts*****
I told my youth group to try to describe grief to me. Not just with words, but in such a way that those words made me understand what grief is really like. I think that one small excerpt from Lewis himself can help you to see that he is not only working through the grief, but that he has the capability to express what he is feeling through to his reader.
On the nature of grief:
"They say an unhappy man wants distractions--something to take him out of himself. Only as a dog-tired man wants an extra blanket on a cold night; he'd rather lie there shivering than get up and find one."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
keanan brand
In the last book he'd ever write, C. S. Lewis showed a break from his usual encouraging and light-hearted discussions about Christianity in topical essays and fantasy (See The Chronicles of Narnia). A Grief Observed is compiled in the form of a diary, in which much thought and spirit had been commited, evident in the patient development of ideas over the span of days he was grieving his wife's death.

I feel it is less an inspirational book than a self-assessment book, for Lewis highlighted a few doubtful questions he had and which he believed everyone should have asked instead of being ignorant or in staunch denial. Controversial questions on God's goodness, His realness and the reasons of [some] sufferings are raised, not to stumble [the reader] but paradoxically uplift.

Interestingly, after reading this book, I wanted to know why we have hope in God, why we rejoice in His goodness which when asked about, we can only answer mindlessly with meaningless and bland model answers. Surely a Christian life demands a deeper realm of understanding and intimacy of/with God. Lewis depicted that maturity in his writing, through his boldness to admit his disappointments, his grief - which a Christian shouldn't be deprived of just because he believes in the hope of Heaven - and his doubts.

It is not a long piece of literature, nor did it explore all kinds of suffering but only parochially death. Despite that, Lewis had produced yet one of the most honest accounts in the Christian context, about his love for his wife, his faith [which before was a card castle ever so vulnerable], and God's good intention in everything He does. Even in suffering. Even in physical pain. Listen and probably what you hear is not the slam of a door and bolting locks, but a voice that will tell you to continue trusting and be at peace.

My salute to one of the most gifted and [Christian-wise] well versed writers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alan moore
By most accounts, CS Lewis is considered one of the top Christian apologists of the 20th century. This fact makes this book even more powerful than some of his others because even Lewis doubts his faith when faced with an extremely difficult situation, the death of his wife. Also, this book shows a much more personal side to Lewis as he struggles to find God and answers to his questions.

This book is somewhat difficult to read for two reasons. First, the subject is tough. I cannot a harder to discuss the death of a loved one, especially a spouse. Second, the book is based on a journal that Lewis kept which means that the text is not as tight as some of his other books. Oddly enough, these two facts actually make the book stronger than some of his other works.

The reader gains deep insight into the soul of Lewis as he seeks God for answers. This is more than just an intellectual exercise. Lewis exposes his emotions in a way that is authentic and real - his writing comes across as very honest. Although I have never lost someone close to me I certainly can appreciate the pain that Lewis experienced. As a Christian I am definitely encouraged that someone with a faith as strong as Lewis experienced doubt, but in the end found his way back to God.

I highly recommend this book, especially since it shows a side to Lewis that you will not find in his other books. Also, it could minister to you, or others who have lost a loved one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kellye
C.S. Lewis has, more often than not, been a very accessible writer. In his life he often achieved a balance of writing about some lofty subject matter in a way that the thinking common person could relate, all the while never "dumbing down" his writings in order to stir up mass appeal (which he got..and much deserved, I might add...all the same).

If one has read various writings of C.S. Lewis....whether it be his Science-Ficiton Trilogy, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, his other ventures into fiction (SCREWTAPE LETTERS or THE GREAT DIVORCE), his (for their time) very compassionate/forward-thinking essays on Christianity or even his autobiographical works (such as SURPRISED BY JOY), then an odd thing occurs. It may be completely delusional on the part of the reader, but one does begin to feel a certain kinship or affinity with C.S. Lewis. And though Lewis was, by most accounts, not the most sociable of men (although, by most accounts, a very gracious and kind-hearted man), many a read feels as though he/she knows Lewis based on the wonderful wealth of writings that he left behind.

So, with this in mind, A GRIEF OBSERVED succeeds on two levels.

For those who have read Lewis over the years, one aches to see a man so often filled with hope and inspiration on the verge of inconsolable desperation. Reading these thoughts that Lewis jotted into his notebook following the death of his wife is much like being a voyeur who witnesses another man's anguish and suffering. On the other hand, Lewis writes what many of those who have lost loved ones often think...but seldom articulate...and that in itself is cause enough for one to read this book.

It is not an easy book to read. Lewis is an expressive enough writer..even in the midst of terrible grief...that he is well able to express the sorrow, emptiness and doubt of faith that comes with losing a loved one. Yet this book is completely void of pretenses or airs. What is written on these pages is much like examining a raw nerve beneath a microscope.

I've no doubt that a man who so cherished his privacy in the way that C.S. Lewis did must have groped with the thought of having these thoughts...often written in notebooks as a form of therapy for his own self...published for all the world to read.

That he, indeed, allowed this work to be published would require a certain amount of humility...not to mention the sense of compassion and empathy that Lewis must have known would be felt by others who've lost loved ones. What Lewis did by allowing this work to be published is to provide a tome that will be read for decades to come by many who experience grief.

For those who are interested in the life of C.S. Lewis, then this book would be essential reading, if only to view him in the heart of a tempest to which he is vulnerable. For those who have lost a loved one, I know that no book can work like a potion to help overcome such grief. Still, this book might serve to provide some comfort during the trying days that face those who have experienced a profound loss.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
s marie
Following Lewis' journey of grief after the death of his wife Joy is a tender, awful, experience. No writer in my memory is more exact in capturing and explaining our humanity. Nearly the whole work is quotable, but two I choose that stood out to me:

"To make an organism which is also a spirit; to make that terrible oxymoron, a 'spiritual animal.' To take a poor primate, a beast with nerve-endings all over it, a creature with a stomach that wants to be filled, a breeding animal that wants its mate, and say, 'Now get on with it. Become a god.'"

"When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of 'No answer.' It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, 'Peace, child; you don't understand.' Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask -- half our great theological and metaphysical problems -- are like that."

As with all Lewis' writings, you can't fly through this. Get comfortable, settle in, and savor the English language and one of the greatest minds ever to use it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
danay wright
C.S. Lewis's "A Grief Observed" is quite different from most of his other works. It is a thoroughly honest recording of his thoughts about the death of his wife. Whereas Lewis carefully argued for the compatibility of suffering and a loving God in "The Problem of Pain," he never claimed that his arguments and philosophical thinking would be any comfort for the actual suffering a person may experience. "A Grief Observed" reveals this to be the case- Lewis finds himself doubting God (mostly doubting His goodness) because of his tremendous grief.

The book is composed of four short chapters, and you can easily see changes in his demeanor and ways of thinking throughout the short book. By the end, Lewis seems to have regained a level of confidence in his faith, although he was shook to the core by the death of his wife.

For me, the book was a strange read, and I had little ability to relate to Lewis. I have not experienced such a tragic loss yet, though there is little doubt that one day, this book will connect with me on a deeper level. However, as to whether or not this short book offers a good source of comfort to those who have suffered a great loss, I cannot say. Yet, if you want to see C.S. Lewis at his most human, most honest moments, then "A Grief Observed" is the book to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jean patrick
Everyone has either experienced a tragic loss of life in the family. Perhaps a death in the extended family, or through a friend who might have lost a loved one. For Christians, grief is an especially tough time, taking them through cycles of questions about whether or not God really does love us when such brutally painful events take hold of us.
When author Clive Staples Lewis lost his wife to cancer in the 1960's, he was no different than any of us, finding himself asking the same questions about God's goodness and love that a lot of us have. Since Lewis had already lived a full life, his loss was deepened by the lack of promises of future happiness a younger person might find some small comfort in. Yet in the wee hours when his grief and anguish were the most poignant, Lewis - an author all the way - took to filling blank pads of paper in his house with the thoughts and feelings that his bereavement brought.
Even though I have not personally experienced anything near the kind of grief that this book deals with, I still found this book to be an amazing read. The deepest grief I've ever experienced was the loss of a family pet, yet from that small sampling I can just barely grasp what Lewis went through. Indeed any person not accustomed to grief can begin to understand it by reading the beautiful language that fills the pages of this book.
It is a short book, ringing in with only four chapters, and 76 pages. Yet all of them are filled with the balm of Lewis's reflections and introspection, and all of them are able to help a grieving person, if for nothing else than to know that they're not alone.
For any person who might be undergoing a period of sorrow, I highly recommend this book. It is not a lot of heavy reading, thus possibly making it easier on someone who is already in such pain. The wonderfully poetic, graceful language gives body and soul to the multitude of emotions that wash through a grieving person, especially in dark hours. These emotions, I'm sure, are experienced by everyone, but with the comments and insight of one of Christendom's favorite authors, it makes this work a priceless treasure.
If you, or someone you know is going through a difficult time of loss and heartache, buy this book for them. It is a must-read for anyone in pain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
merrilyn
I have to admit, when I first started this book I was a little surprised. Wasn't this CS Lewis, the man who could take the most complicated issues of religion and explain them in a way that was simple yet easy to understand? Wasn't this the man who had an answer for everything? Didn't he have some kind of impenetrable armor? I guess not.
One thing became quickly apparent--Lewis was human. I cannot believe how incredibly candid, how open and honest he was. The death of his wife hurt him deeply and shook his faith, and he was man enough to admit it. The beginning of the book is filled with doubt and questions, yet slowly you can see the change take place. Lewis is rediscovering his faith, and is slowly coming to terms with his wife's death. It's beautiful.
Lewis obviously published this book because he wanted to help others through experiences such as his. He wanted this to be comforting, and comforting it is. He explores grief and loss like no other man can, and the result is this priceless little gem that helps us remember that it's okay to grieve.
I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to his wife. By releasing this book, he showed the world just how much she meant to him. I cannot praise this book enough. With this short work, Lewis proves he really does have an answer (or at least the power to come up with one) for everything.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kari
For starters I would highly encourage anyone who picks up "A Grief Observed" to read it alonside "The Problem of Pain". In the introduction to "The Problem of Pain" Lewis admits that he has not had to deal with the issue of "pain" very severely in his life; of course this was written prior to "A Grief Observed", which the read of the two in conjunction so interesting. In "The Problem of Pain" Lewis tackles the perennial apologetic issue of why does pain, evil, etc. exist. Lewis tackles this problem from a philosophical/theological point of view. In "A Grief Observed" you have the honest struggles of a man, who has already grappled "mentally" with this issue, and is now having to grapple with this issue in a real and personal way. Having read many of Lewis' other works it was surprising to me to read "A Grief Observed" and to see the down right honesty of a man struggling with his pain and his faith in the midst of it. At times you are shocked by what Lewis says, especially since he has been placed on a pedestal for so many years and by many people. But it is also refreshing, in a sense, to read how this "great man of faith" had to contend with one of the harshest realities of life, which is dealing with the death of a loved one and the aftershocks of pain. His personal ruminations on dealing with the death of Joy reminded me much of the lament psalms of the Old Testament. And yet despite his "dark night of the soul" you discover that he finds hope in the midst of tragedy...rooted of course in Jesus Christ. By all means don't miss out on reading this little, but powerful book. This book helps to "round-out" the character of C.S. Lewis even more so.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
soniap
Easily the saddest book I have ever read, C.S. Lewis' book A Grief Observed is his journal he wrote after his wife Joy died of cancer.
It was the first time in his life that he had experienced such a sudden jolt of pain and it is evident in his words that he was completely lost. Lewis' faith was tested and he shares his doubts and anger towards God with readers.
"What chokes every prayer and every hope is the memory of all the prayers H. and I offered and all the false hopes we had. Not hopes raised merely by our own wishful thinking, hopes encouraged, even forced upon us, by false diagnoses, by X-ray photographs, by strange remissions, by one temporary recovery that might have ranked as a miracle. Step by step we were 'led up the garden path.' Time after time, when He seemed most gracious He was really preparing the next torture."

It is a very personal experience that few people are willing to share with the world. As time passes, Lewis comes to conclusions about death and life that will give hope to anyone who has lost a loved one.

"God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn't."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sharmaine dela cruz
I had just finished Lewis' "The Problem of Pain", just before reading this book. It made for a very interesting look at the difference between an intellectual understanding of something and actually experiencing it. Lewis eventually ended up where he started in the previous book, but not without first having to go through a major trial of faith.

The book is very short and consists of four chapters that consisted of a journal of his thoughts after the death of his wife. They go into very intimate detail of his thoughts including his serious doubts about the existence of God. Each chapter progresses to show peace entering into his soul and his renewal of faith.

I sometimes feel that I'm like Lewis was prior to his wife's death; I feel that my faith will be able to take me through the difficult times. I've understood that it will be difficult, but reading this book has made me aware that it will probably be much more difficult than I recognize. It also gives me hope that I will be able to eventually work my way through any future grief.

This short little book is a worthwhile experience.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
hayley eoff
Love the book, but this printing is super cheap quality. Not recommended if you're giving it to someone. The text is great, but the paper is so cheap you can see the printing on the other side of the page. It is literally newspaper paper. The edges of the pages are uneven because the paper is so flimsy the printer can't cut it well. And I have cardstock that is sturdier than this "cover".
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cely maimicdec ttrei
A Grief Observed is a deeply personal book by a famous Christian author. I read it many years ago when it was first published. C. S. Lewis has enough stature to stand on his own merits. He does not need the endorsement of lesser writers like those who wrote the sentimental and distracting Forewords to this edition. Shame on the publisher!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mike o
What a meaningful book. Lewis recounts his feelings and thoughts in the immediate aftermath of the death of his wife. The emotion is raw and Lewis, in his classic way, brings us around to thinking in fresh ways about the dead, their destiny and the ones left behind. In all of this he also wrestles with God and seeks to find meaning in the midst of such challenging circumstances. Coming in at about 75 pages, the book is clearly written and inspiring.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
valerie daly
This short book is C. S. Lewis' brutally honest record of his experience of grief after the death of his wife. The first two chapters seethe with anger and despair as he questions his faith and the goodness of God. The last two chapters records his thoughts and growing faith (as well as continued grief and pain) as the first desperate emotions and mental and physical exhaustion begin to lessen.

I take issue with some of his underlying theology (e.g. the idea of some sort of purgatorial suffering after death and his conception of heaven as being an almost completely alien mode of existence), but this is a truly powerful book in its absolute honesty.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
caylee
After C. S. Lewis lost his wife, Helen Joy Davidman, he took up a journal. These writings make up A Grief Observed. Lewis refers to his lost beloved as H. in his journal. The title aptly describes this work. It is not about grief in general but about the grief of a specific man at a specific time for a specific loss. The foreword by Madeleine L'Engle makes good observation of the practical application of the book in examining grief and helping others in part to cope. The introduction by Douglas H. Gresham, a son of Joy Davidman, paints an intimate picture of who Lewis and Davidman were. From this, one gets the sense this book is going to be about something real. In the work, Lewis's true colors show through. He is an intellectual individual moving through the grieving process and trying to understand his own thoughts and experience. He displays himself with unabashed openness and honesty (perhaps because he thought these scribblings would never become public). One understands that he is experiencing real loss and pain. Lewis asks "Aren't all these notes the senseless writhings of a man who won't accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it?" Lewis confronts his faith which may be a "house of cards" while trying to hold onto the proper memory of H. so that she is never really gone. Both of these seem to be the central themes of the book. In Lewis's examination of his faith and God, he stumbles upon several points of insight into the both of them. For his own part, nearer the beginning of the book, Lewis says "You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you." As Lewis putts along his journey of grief, he comes to the point where he begins to see all this in the grand scheme of things for what it is and begins to go on to the next step in his life. For his experience, as for many of the rest of us, "Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape."
I do not know if this book would be of much consolation, understanding, or catharsis for anyone who is experiencing loss because I did not read it in a period of grief. Looking back, I can see where I would identify with Lewis and if having read it before grieving, it would perhaps have been of benefit. It is amazing what truth can be uncovered when an individual is knocked to the bottom and is brutally honest with him- or herself and the world. A Grief Observed is what it is, and it contains deep spiritual wisdom. The book is short and an excellent read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
komatsu joon
Lewis' "A Grief Observed" is surely shocking to anyone who has read "The Great Divorce" or "The Screwtape Letters". Not merely for the depth of Lewis' crisis of faith, but for the savagery with which he dispatches our common platitudes about loss.

This is one area in which Lewis and I diverge in our experience of the death of our wives. Where Lewis is affronted by assurances of salvation, such realities are a great comfort to me. In most other aspects, Lewis does a remarkable job of expressing the inexpressible, and it makes me want to give this book to those around me so that they can understand.

I continue to be surprised by the extent to which shared experience is reassuring - I do not think I am the kind of person who needs affirmation of my thoughts or feelings. Either the death of a spouse is so traumatic that I am unable to cope alone, or it has peeled off the veneer of my self-reliance. In any case, reading Lewis, with his wonderful capacity for imagery, expressing what I cannot express, has been a great benefit.

"A Grief Observed" feels compressed. It is a quick read, but surely comprises in its unedited form the many pages of manuscript that Lewis references. There are some uncomfortable moments, such as the mention of "the spirtualists" and the strange mental encounter that Lewis reports. But though accelerated, both the maddening grief, and the slow healing, are authentic and bear familiar touches. The loss of value in familiar and once-treasured things, the desire for company with the simultaneous resistance to conversation, the sense of wandering the same landscape and going in circles - I share all of these sensations with Lewis. But reading his description allows me to put my finger on things that are otherwise amorphous and ill-related.

I have to deduct one star from the review as a protest against the (thankfully brief) foreward by Madeleine L'Engle. As I have repeated complained in reviews on the store.com, I do not understand the predilection of publishers for selecting the most inapropriate people to write forewards. Prefacing Lewis' work with a writer who complains of the "pre-Copernican attitude toward death" of the church strikes me as an attempt by the publisher to recruit Lewis toward the new-age secular spiritualism that would have been anathema. I have to hope for a future Ignatius Press version with a foreward by Joseph Pearce.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joy ferguson
For years I've taught this book in an Introduction to Philosophy course, and my admiration for it increases each time. It's a brutally honest testament in which CSL takes a hard look at his own basic assumptions about life, love, God, Christianity, the world, human relationships.
Prior to the horrific trauma chronicled in this book (the loss of his wife), CSL had been what I'd call a puglistic Christian. His apologetic writings tended (although not exclusively so) to be a bit heavy-handed and simplistic. Take, for example, his early _The Problem of Pain_. In that book, CSL offers the standard philosophical arguments that attempt to show that the existence of a loving God is compatible with innocent suffering. But he seems to have no feel for the tragedy of suffering. It's a bookish exercise for him, and his ultimate goal is to win an argument. Many of his books are like that.
But not _A Grief Observed_. Here, for the first time in his published work, CSL comes face to face with a realworld (as opposed to bookish) situation that causes him to reexamine his earlier, perhaps too easy, too glib, Christian faith. His reflections about the terrible silence of God, the awfulness of loneliness, the feeling of betrayal, the ultimate reawakening of the sense that perhaps he isn't adrift in an indifferent universe: all of these are utterly authentic, and as such go far beyond his earlier work.
CSL's faith after his wife's death is one tempered with the hard realization that a great deal of the tragedy and suffering in life can't be glibly explained away. His relation with God is more dependent, more childlike, than it was earlier. CSL doesn't emerge victorious from the dark night of the soul he chronicles in this memoir. He emerges broken, but his very brokenness makes his relationship with God more genuine. And that's a lesson for us all to reflect on. It makes CSL an utterly lovable man, and it reminds all of us of the perils of taking God for granted.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andrea blake
C.S. Lewis is now being credited for being Christianity's greatest defender in the 20th century, and the writer who gave faith credibility at a time when faith seemed a childish delusion. The reason so many of Lewis' writings have been a strong defense of faith probably has less to do with his actual beliefs, as much as his skill as an orator and writer. His detractors will readily admit that, knowing that if you may not agree with his conclusions, it is difficult to fault his arguments. Yet for people of faith, logic is nice, but it is often too dry. The lived experience of faith is far more significant than rhetoric. For people of faith who love and admire Lewis, A GRIEF OBSERVED is indispensable. This work, which deals with the grief an loss he experienced when his beloved wife Joy suffers from cancer and eventually dies, demonstrates Lewis' own struggles with belief, and demonstrates that for Lewis, his faith is not a philosophical point of view, but the motivation of his life.

Since its publication, readers have turned to this work for a number of reasons. Most have either lost someone they love or are trying to assist someone with loss. Readers soon discover that the book challenges the reader, then consoles the reader, and immediately challenges once again. Readers feel a whirlwind of emotions, giving a glimpse of the emotions we feel in a time of grief. In Lewis we find a person who truly mourns, but one who gives us an example on faith that is shaken and tested, but is ultimately solid. Countless readers have discovered that Lewis' experiences resonate with their own, and have made this work a spiritual classic.

When I first read A GRIEF OBSERVED, I had not yet lost anyone significant in my life or at least anyone who was significant who was not aged and had lived a full life. I still had an appreciation for what Lewis had to say, but it was a bookish knowledge. Since that time I have lost loved ones and have seen loved ones suffer, especially my own father, who died young and battled cancer in the form of a brain tumor for nearly twenty years. It was while sitting at his bedside a week before he died that Lewis' words seemed so real to me, and I realized I was not alone in how I felt. I have no idea of whether I recalled Lewis' words as I sat by my father's bedside, but I know my faith was tested at that time, but my faith sustained me as well. I also know that Lewis' struggles in A GRIEF OBSERVED were somewhere in my unconscious mind, helping me though and giving me hope.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sam mahmoudi
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who are in grief and those who haven't got a clue. If you're among the latter, I suggest you get down on your knees and thank God, Good Fortune, or whatever you happen to believe for your blessed ignorance. And by all means keep telling yourself your own death is a faraway thing, it'll help you through many a bad night.
This book is the howling of a poet in anguish. Perhaps the most powerful journal ever written. The jottings of an acclaimed pop apologist who forsakes lame platitudes from well meaning friends and pat answers from the religion he once championed.

"It is hard to have patience with people who say 'there is no death' or 'death doesn't matter'. There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth does not matter. I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain than in all those times and spaces if I were allowed to search them I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Why is the word so hard to learn?"
Amen.
At the risk of sounding condescending towards theologogical speculation, it is one thing to read the metaphysical musings of a Plato, Thomas Aquinas or Martin Buber and quite another to read of the torments of a Socrates, a Joan of Arc, or a Victor Frankl.
Here, C.S the theologist disappears and C.S. the husband comes forth. A magnificent work of honesty and courage.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jerica
As a mother of three very young children, I recently faced two extended, near-fatal illnesses in a few short years.

Only by the strength of the Almighty was the devastation endurable. So much for the wonders of "modern" medicine. None of many doctors were able to offer hope or help; no medications worked to provide respite. My husband and parents sacrificed everything, investing themselves fully in caring for the children and doing all they could to keep me alive.

Most of the time, it was unclear if death would come - whether by God's hand or by my own, pressed by sheer, relentless agony. To my shame I say this; however, in spite of what some may think, there are tortures brutal enough to destroy any human foundation. Thankfully, the same cannot be said of the heavenly Foundation. The ten Boom sisters were right: "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still."

So, then, about "A Grief Observed"... It may seem strange that a journal on grief, on death, might provide companionship to people who had not literally lost a loved one. Yet, we deeply mourned loss of life, if from a different angle. For whatever reason, this book was just about the only consolation my mother and I found during those endless months.

Reading Lewis, we found relief in shared suffering, in expression of the raw agony and devastation of earthly misery. His words spoke what our hearts felt in so many ways. His journal addressed what the vast majority of our Christian friends seemed powerless to grasp - that sometimes, "...there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it...It doesn't really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist's chair or let your hands lie in your lap. The drill drills on."

If you are enduring suffering and grief, if the platitudes and pat, religious tramplings of friends ~ however well-meaning ~ only sharpen your isolation, then this may be the book for you.

Having lived in the pits of Hell, I would not dare to say that this book is for everyone...only that in my grief, my particular assigned misery, it was an extremely close friend. I very much hope that it will be the same for you.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
julie walsh
This booklet by C. S. Lewis is too cerebral; too spiritual; too philosophical for me. It did not provide the support I needed. The booklet "The Tander Scar" (also available from the store) by Richard Mabry is much more down to earth with practical guidance on what the grieving person will experience and how to cope with it. It was much more meaningful to me in my time of need.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cookiem
C.S. Lewis's "A Grief Observed" is a brief book -- only about 70 pages-- but it contains some of the best metaphors for faith I have ever read. Like his challenging work "The Problem of Pain," this book is unsparing in its belief that a good God can will awful things on people. Like death, for instance. Why would an all-powerful God allow people to suffer and die, especially those well before their prime? Lewis went through this questioning himself when his wife died, and his journal of questions and answers fill the pages of this book.
How can God remain silent when the ill cry out in pain? Lewis compares God to a surgeon performing open heart surgery. The doctor, knowing best the full process required, can't relieve pain at every cry, or he would never complete the process, and the intended purpose of the pain would never come to fruition. This is a pretty unsparing description -- I wonder how many people in grief feel comfort reading such things. This is where faith comes in -- if you believe that the end result of pain and death is resurrection, and you trust in God's plan, you can find comfort knowing that every death is part of the plan.
Not an easy concept to grapple with -- I'm glad I read this book, but I can't help but flinch a bit at Lewis's viewpoint. It is lucid, poetic, and erudite -- and yet I still find myself uncomfortable with a God who would bring suffering on innocent people.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary anne
I swear, I was supposed to read this when my Grandma died. Unfortunately, my best buddy Kenny, (we all called him Skink) on June 26, 2010, beat her to it, very unexpectedly. Not that it was ever a competition. And thank God it wasn't a suicide either. Like many athletes, he had an enlarged heart, and without warning, it killed him instantly.

So you read my first sentence, and you see that this was to be reserved for Grandma. Yep. I actually planned it out. I wanted to find this book, I found it at a Christian book store, and left it on my bookshelf, unblemished, waiting for the day that I got the news. But June 26, 2010, I got other news. My best friend ever, was found with his hands in his lap, and head tilted to the side. His car had been fixed earlier that day. His plans were to go back to camp. He'd ridden home with another friend in the best spirits possible that very day. They'd eaten lunch together. He'd joked around with the little baby in the car. And then it was all over. God had other plans for him.

One reviewer said that we're probably not all going to have the same thoughts as C.S. Lewis on how to grieve, and how to get through it. I'm certainly not going to write a book about my experience this time around or the next. But whether I like it or not, Lewis hits this one on the head, because he experienced grief just like any of us. How do you talk to God in a time like this? How are we going to go through life? It might actually feel like a torture, and you might not come to your senses at first. You'll probably feel numb, and wonder over and over and over again if you'll ever feel normal again. Will we ever get over this?

C.S. Lewis experienced loss in his life. I'm not even sure if I really REVIEWED this book the way people think it should be reviewed. But I really don't care. What I do care about is that I miss my buddy. I'll always remember my best buddy, and I can't wait to see him once again! I think about him in lots and lots of things I do these days. That's how I'm getting back on my feet, slowly but surely. And with God's grace, I'm taking one step back at a time.

This can either mean something to somebody, or they don't have to read it at all. My choice was to read it, and it was as human as ever. And, not being C.S. Lewis, I don't suppose it was all supposed to make sense to me. Will I ever understand why God took my buddy? Nope. It's not for me to understand, except that God has His plans for Kenny up in Heaven. And God still has His plans for me on Earth until He calls me home. So while I'll never see Kenny down here again, I'm always going to have the memories that only him and I had throughout the years of being best buddies. Nobody can take that away! Can't wait to see you again, brother!! You were always the best!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
annie jo
In "A Grief Observed," C.S. Lewis allows the reader to walk with him on his journey through grief. He was a brilliant scholar and Oxford professor whom people looked to for answers and meaning when suddenly his world was turned upside down by the loss of his wife Joy, who died of cancer in her 40s. In the book, he explores honestly the depth of his anguish and his search to find comfort and hope in the midst of the despair of loss.
He describes many of the multitude of emotions that grief can bring, and also the seemingly endless barrage of unanswered questions he found himself asking. Ultimately he finds comfort and hope in his faith, but not before journey through a time of anguish and questioning God- even expressing his anger and shock at the loss.
If you have lost a close loved one, or know someone who has, this book may be a great source of comfort in the midst of grief. I facilitate a grief support group, and a number of people have found it to be very helpful in coping with the loss of a family member or close friend. I have also found it to be a helpful source of comfort and hope in facing some of the losses in my life.
I would highly recommend it to anyone facing grief and loss, as well as for caregivers, clergy and counselors who work with the bereaved.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christopher grey
When it comes to frank discussion of difficult issues, there's often a sense in which no approach will satisfy everyone. Those who offer a polished examination tend to be met with detractors who don't believe the approach was honest or in-depth enough. Those who offer an unpolished but 'brutally honest' approach tend to be met with detractors who think the 'brutal honesty' is questionable in terms of theological or intellectual integrity and could have stood for more sober reflection before being published. Because of this, a mysterious exchange occurs between writer and reader. When writer and reader aren't on the same page in terms of purpose or expectation, a letdown is usually the result. But on those occasions when the writer and reader make an enduring connection based on similar experiences, attitudes, etc, the result is often profound. While such a result can be dangerous since emotional or attitudinal connectivity is not a valid measure of whether the views expressed have a basis in objective truth or not and thus make belief in error all the more easy, the result, when anchored in truth, is formidable.
Why do I say all this? Because I think if someone is coming to this book looking for a presentation on suffering that is airtight in its theology, this might be a disappointment. Lewis was no theologian, he was a layman who had an extra-ordinary desire to probe the things of God from the perspective of a layman. As a result, many of his works, while tremendously engaging and insightful, tend to be at least somewhat loose in their fidelity to Scriptural truths, which shouldn't be surprising since Lewis did not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. Nonetheless, this particular effort is one of the most engaging works on suffering and grief from a Christian perspective and its insights should be taken very seriously.
In this book, Lewis laments the vacuum left in his life by the passing of his wife. Along the way, he ponders out loud about a number of basic issues surrounding the goodness of God, the meaning of life, and the purpose of grief. The early chapters tend to be defined more by a spirit of grief resulting from an unsure anchor. This is the section where many of the particularly engaging musings about God and life are asked and not always answered. In the later chapters, as Lewis has further reflected on the goodness of God and the meaning of grief, his faith anchor becomes more stable, his perspective more secure, and his grief more manageable. This is no accident of course. What we see on these pages is one of the better Christian apologists of the 20th century having the sturdiness of his faith put to the ultimate test, and the result is a very penetrating look at grief from someone not removed from it and analyzing it from a distance, but one who is in the middle of it and is struggling with it personally.
In the end, the reader might well agree with Lewis that the veridicality of the worldview and value system one adopts is most demonstrated when such things literally become matters of life and death personally. Does it merely work on paper and in the abstract, or is it also a source of absolute truth when brought home to roost in our most desperate hour. This is a formidable test for any worldview, and one that few are willing to honestly grapple with. Lewis does so here, and what we see is a man exposed by his grief, unable to hide behind anything else, and trying to make his worldview make sense in the midst of it. Very penetrating, very honest. A work that should be considered by all, but read with theological discernment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
brenda dickson
THis is not for all who need solice during a grieving period, but it helped me. While i didn't lose a spouse but another close loved one, the book was meaningful and insightful. It shows that most all of us feel the same lose and feelings - yet at different times and that one must be patience with one's self to overcome that and move on. It also honors the deceased and doesn't sugar coat it but again in Mr. Lewis' talented way, gently strikes at the core of grief.
If you present to a friend or co-worker who is in deep grief, I do suggest you wait some months before. It is heady stuff( or is to me) and frankly i feel it's better absorbed after the initial shock has worn off.
Being a small tome, it can be read again and again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lauren hough
Grief is a vacuum and the mourner is an embarrassment to everyone he meets, Lewis concludes. The bereaved person experiences horror because the she (or he), the decedent, will not live in memory. Impressions will fade.

The author's experience was that the consolations of religion were not available. Reality is unbearable, it is asserted. Grief feels like fear. The world seems flat, shabby in grief.

When something really happens it is different than what has been bargained for. The author compares God to a surgeon, he keeps on cutting. Grief feels like suspense. (It is a severe interruption of habit.)

A wife plays many roles, contains so many persons in herself as Lewis puts the matter. The interest of the book is the psychology in it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mariana m
C.S. Lewis can almost be described as a contradiction. For much of his life, he was an agnostic, eventually coming to accept Christianity not through any miraculous transformation, but through rational thinking. He was a confirmed bachelor, but wound up marrying late in life, to the American divorcee Joy Davidman, his perfect counterpart in almost every manner. His life was awakened by Joy's presence, but their brief marriage (just nearly four years) was terminated when Joy died of cancer. C.S. Lewis kept track of his thoughts and ramblings after this event in a series of notebooks that became "A Grief Observed".

"A Grief Observed" is at times almost too personal. Lewis leaves nothing hidden, allowing readers access to his anger and his questioning of God. He claims that these are not all his thoughts, merely 'one in a hundred', that he has recorded as he tries to sort through his sorrow and grief. He likens his pain to various metaphors, including that of an amputee who still feels the pain of the lost limb - for Lewis, his lost wife who was part of him. He finds that it is always easy to offer comfort to those who have lost loved ones, to even pray for them, when they are not our loved ones.

He questions God at every turn, eventually finding his way back to faith, seeing this challenge as a test of his faith and love. "God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn't. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down."

"A Grief Observed" is a short book, under one hundred pages, filled out with an afterword that is a brief biographical sketch on Lewis by Chad Walsh, an English professor and friend of Joy Davidman. It is a fitting close to Lewis' thoughts, to take a brief look at his life from a man who knew both husband and wife. For someone of such legendary status as Lewis in the academic and literary worlds, it is a unique experience to see his weaknesses. Lewis acknowledges that there is no map that one can make of sorrow, for it is a process that everyone must go through, and it is reaffirming in faith to travel alongside him through his grief.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
masyhur hilmy
This was one of many novels I had to read for an elective to obtain my bachelor's. At the time I had lost both my parents and grieving while attending college was not on my to-do list. However, after the first chapter of this book I was forced to unleash the pain that was stored in me for many months. The author captured so many levels of pain and anger that I was facing and helped me realize that death was not only a part of the life cycle but that I must learn to accept it and move on.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
okiedokie
Lewis wrote this little gem after his beloved wife, Joy, died of cancer. Knowing Lewis to be a man of deep faith and one of the most respected theologians of his day, secure in his beliefs, I was particularly interested in how he would react to such a soul-disemboweling blow. I was not disappointed -- like anyone else, he reeled.
In A GRIEF OBSERVED, his struggle to regain his balance, physically and spiritually, is not unlike my own.
Speaking of the grieving process he writes, "At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want others to be about me. I dread moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me."
He struggles with anger as well as with the things people say to him. His faith is challenged -- he calls God the "great iconoclast," and he speaks of his fears.
Lewis's rambling style is compatible with the confused and jumbled feelings of the bereaved. His anger, sense of bewilderment and suffocation along with recognition and acknowlegment of the feelings and emotions express the too-often inexpressable.
This book is a fine and sensitive treatise on the pain of grieving and the soul's journey through the grieving process. I recommend it highly to anyone deep in grief or who is concerned about someone who is grieving.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
maina
A heart wrenching little book by Jack Lewis. Originally a journal to record his feelings and fears, this is a classic trial of faith. Lewis is well known for his apologetics works, his logic, his wit, and his deep sense of Christianity. Yet here, after losing the woman he had come to love so much, everything is thrown into dismay and despair. God gently takes him by the hand, and walks him through this. To hear Lewis, this great Christian brother, rage and acknowledge his doubt during this trial of faith shows us we are not alone in our own trials. To anyone who has lost a spouse, very highly recommended. To anyone going through a hard time in their lives, recommended. God will always be with you, even if you can't see him. Admit your doubts and work through them, with God as your guide. C. S. Lewis called his faith a `house of cards'. If yours is knocked down, let God walk you thru it, and have him build your faith on the firm rock of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He loves you - yield.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
benjamin chandler
As I have confessed before, I am not a huge fan of CS Lewis. To be more accurate, however, I am not a fan of the Lewis phenomena. Lewis was an admirable man with many gifts. However, I don't think he was the beacon of truth that many have made him out to be. He had an amazing ability to dissect weighty issues with clear-headed thinking, but I have often felt that he didn't understand the depth, complexity and irrationality that creates the tapestry of humanity. That is, until after the loss of his wife Joy and several other disappoinments in his life.
In reading this book, then, I was trying to sharpen my own understanding of his transformation at the end of his life. It was, honestly, very refreshing to read a Lewis who was shaken. Rather than everything being obvious and clear to him, Lewis keeps wrestling with himself at the difficult intersection of faith, emotions and logic. As he would come to one conclusion or resolution during one entry, his next journal entry would inevitably dismiss all he had previously written as he would chastise himself and try to make further sense of things. Thus, for anyone who has been cautious of Lewis for the same reasons as I have, this book will give you the human glimpse of him that perhaps you were waiting for.
However, I think a Lewis fan would appreciate this work as well, though for very different reasons. If one is a Lewis fan, I would guess that one enjoys his intellectual approach to all issues. Rather than ever let himself just grieve or be emotional or ride out the storm, Lewis takes on the grieving process in a similar way as he has taken on all problems - with honesty, scrutiny and expectation that a solution can be found.
On a personal note, I lost three family members in the past year, and learned first hand how long, painful and unexpected the grieving process can be. If you've never gone through it, then you may not understand how it can shake you to the core - even if you think you have a strong faith. Thus, in, around and through all other criticism I may have of Lewis, I do appreciate Lewis' willingness to publish his account which will likely help validate the spiritual journey of many mourners. (For, thanks to the Lewis phenomena, if Lewis went through it, then it's OK to go through.)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
saparir
First of all, I should note that I read an older edition of the book without the forward.

Some reviewers have noted that the book helped them through grief while others felt otherwise. I will leave those opinions to be discussed by those who have had more experience with them and will consentrate on the book's revelation of Lewis as a person.

"A Grief Observed" is at times a powerful and emotional look into C.S. Lewis's grief after the loss of his wife to cancer. Lewis had seen suffering before, he had lived through the Western Front in WWI, but Gresham's death may have been the greatest blow of his life. His journal captures some of his reconsiderations of faith, inner sorrow, and finally a return to faith. Overall a concise and interesting personal story of dealing with grief.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
anne bentley
Like most reviewers here, I really can't say enough about the powerful impact this book has. It's only 88 pages, but contains more raw emotion, personal introspection/self-examination, and hard-hitting truths than books 4 or 5 times it's size. I was not familiar with C.S. Lewis before reading this book, but will certainly read him now. I will also read this book repeatedly, as I'm sure it's full force can only be realized this way.
O.K then, so why only the 4 stars? I suppose if I had known nothing about the book, read none of these reviews (which prompted me to buy it), and most importantly, paid no attention to the "subtitle", I would have unhesitatingly given it 5 stars. The "subtitle" on my copy reads "A Masterpiece of Rediscovered Faith Which Has Comforted Thousands". I must say, I don't find this book all that comforting, at least from a Christian perspective. Yes, Lewis finally comes to the realization that God is not a "Cosmic Sadist", but, with the author having the reputation of being one of the leading Christian apologists of this century, I was expecting more of a "Rediscovered Faith" (in Christ) then what gets presented. Lewis' "breakthrough" seems to consist merely of two points: One, that he finally noticed that the less he grieved, the more he felt the "realness" of H's (his deceased wifes) presence, and two, he ultimately senses a presence of her that seems "business-like". Then, the book abruptly ends. (I don't take fault with this as it's really a journal, not a "book").
That being said, the book is simply too powerful to ignore based on this one criticism. Lewis puts into words what most of us can not even fully realize with our minds. And, to be sure, Lewis sees his new found faith as more "real" and "mature" than the one "built like a house of cards".
Read it! But a word of warning to Christians - it is not clear, to me at least, that Lewis' "Rediscovered Faith" has much to do with Jesus.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mauricio
After having read several of Lewis' books, I read "A Grief Observed" which quickly became my favorite. It is his journal - and almost too personal - where you bear witness to Lewis' progress as he sloughs his way through the deep mire of sorrow and grief.
In the first pages of the book, he tells of going to God, seeking relief from the agony he feels in his heart over the fresh loss of his beloved wife, Helen Joy, only to find - the door slammed and the sound of the door being bolted and doubled bolted from the inside.
He rails against God and his faith is stirred to its core.
In the end, he finds his way back to God, but it is not an easy journey or a primrose path.
For all of Lewis' intellectual reasonings and scholarly attainments, I find "A Grief Observed" to be his best work because it comes from the very heart of a man seeking to find the answers to life's hardest questions. It is not a philosophical insight or an intellectual wrangling, but a spirit-filled work that lays bare the heart of a man who loved his wife completely.
This is an important book. Read it. You'll be changed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
susana ebp
C.S. Lewis journal records his reactions upon the loss of his wife. He had married late in life, and he and his wife were especially close. She opened up to him a world of love and warmth he had never known. The loss of her was the loss of the special blessed life they had found.
I was reminded of this book because I read an especially good review of it in 'The New Republic' by Rochelle Gurstein.I quote a passage which has an understanding of the heart of the book I did not get in my own reading.

" The story moves toward a close with Lewis struggling to put into words a sublime yet terrible paradox: "Lord ... can I meet H. again only if I learn to love you so much that I don't care whether I meet her or not?" Lewis's capacity to formulate this paradox signals a renewal of his faith. And while it gives him the hope of redemption and a future reunion with his wife, it also makes clear why religion does not offer any consolations, for Lewis must accept precisely what he found most unbearable when he was in the throes of grief: that he will never again meet the particular woman he loved with all his being. Indeed, their eternal reunion is possible only if he gives up all such earthly illusions."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
deniece liza
This work chronicles Lewis' struggle to come to terms with the death of his wife. Because it comes from his private journals, it may not seem as "polished" as some of his other writings. Personally, I appreciate the way it reveals the innerworkings of a very emotional and private man.
In contrast to many works, this book doesn't try to simplify grief, justify it, or dance around the issue with pat observations or cheery reminders. Instead, it dares to question those very tactics. Lewis allows himself to feel a broad range of emotions, including doubt and great despair. I love this quality in Lewis: he is one of the few Chrisitian writers who is brutally honest about his fears and anger. His writings allow that God is big enough to handle our toughest questions.
This little book is full of images and ideas that will stay with you long after you've finished it. Lewis takes feelings that you can't quite pinpoint and eloquently puts them into words. As I read the book, I kept thinking to myself "Yes, THAT'S what I feel too!" Misery does love company, and Lewis is excellent company.
As usual, Lewis is full of astute observations and points to ponder, but don't expect a bunch of clean and pretty answers. At the end, his grief is still very much a work in progress, which is definitely how it has been in my life....a journey.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stephen odom
This book is the most raw account of a Christians grief, doubt, and subsequent renewal of faith that I have read. Given the fact that this was never intended by Lewis to be published, it is a glimpse of the deeply vulnerable side of one of the modern world's most brilliant men. Excellent.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeff daiell
In this slender volume, C.S. Lewis shares his personal experience with grief following the death of his wife. This is a grief that has him questioning his belief in God and exposing the raw, painful, angry emotions that accompany his grieving process. There are many ways to grieve, but one thing is certain - it has to be faced, and Lewis has done just that in this book. The harsh reality that everyone who lives will die means that we must all face grief at some time if we haven't already done so. His experiences with grief are not unique, but he is to be applauded for sharing his palpable pain in a way that may help others who suffer a loss of such magnitude.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
erin feik
There are only two marriages I've ever been interested in: that of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, and that of Lewis and Joy Davidman.
This book, while it hints of what the Lewis-Davidson marriage was like, is not about their marriage. Instead, it's an absolutely no b.s. recording of a mind as its world has turned bleakly, seemingly inconsolably, black. But this is no ordinary mind. This is the mind of C.S. Lewis, arguably the greatest Christian apologist of the 20th century, if not all time.
If you have read any of Lewis' other books, you will sense that Lewis had some deep personal struggles, going back to his early childhood. It's not obvious. You have to read between the lines, and even then very carefully. But people who have had similar struggles will know what he's communicating to them, consciously or not.
When Lewis married Joy, I don't think he knew what he was getting into. Or maybe he did. Whichever, somehow a former Marxist, divorced mother of two boys, and formidable Christian thinker in her own right was able to get in, under and on Lewis' skin. She was God's unlikely choice for him, which is probably the best kind.
Theirs was a marriage steeped in levels of love and truth unknown by most couples and certainly most of us unmarried folk. How can you tell? Well, when it ended, it just about ended Lewis' other great and even longer relationship, that of Lewis and his Lord.
This is a tough book. The lesson I got from it is: don't put anything above your relationship with Christ. Because when that anything comes to end, which it invariably will, it's only the unfailing grace and love of God that will bring you through it. And even experiencing that will be a battle.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rachael brown
"I think I am beginning to understand why grief feels like suspense. It comes from the frustration of so many impulses that had become habitual. Thought after thought, feeling after feeling, action after action, had H. for their object. Now their target is gone. I keep on through habit fitting an arrow to the string; then I remember and have to lay the bow down. So many roads lead thought to H. I set out on one of them. But now there's an impassable frontier post across it. So many roads once, now so many cul de sacs."

"It is just at those moments when I feel least sorrow--getting into my morning bath is usually one of them--that H. rushes upon my mind in her full reality, her otherness. Not, as in my worst moments, all foreshortened and patheticized and solemnized by my miseries, but as she is in her own right. This is good and tonic."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marlan warren
C.S. Lewis published A Grief Observed under the pseudonym N. W. Clerk, (the N. W. is Anglo-Saxon shorthand for nat whilk, "I know not whom"). In fact, the book was never published under Lewis' name while he lived. First published in 1961, it has been called an unsettling book and the use of a pseudonym seems to indicate that Lewis knew that it would be found so.

Some argue that it is not about Lewis' anguish over his wife's, Joy's, death but instead a fictional account of grief. Mary Borhek summarizes the position of those who hold this view: "The only reasons I can see for believing the book to be a fictionalized account are a desire to distance oneself from the extreme discomfort of confronting naked agony and an unwillingness to grant a revered spiritual leader and teacher permission to be a real, fallible, intensely real human being."

Still others object to Lewis' candid expressions of anger at God, suggesting the book demonstrates Lewis' loss of faith: John Beversluis in his C. S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion states that "There is no case for Christianity in this book. Gone are the persuasive arguments and the witty analogies. Gone, too, are the confidence and urbanity evident in The Problem of Pain...The fundamental crisis of the book is a crisis of meaning, a crisis of such paralyzing magnitude that Lewis tries to distance himself from it in every possible way."

Noelene Kidd in A Grief Observed: Art, Apology, or Autobiography? argues the book "is not simply a record of Lewis's grief at the loss of his beloved wife...but a dissection of grief itself. The work is chiefly an apology concealed by art." Still others find the book, while a deeply moving account of loss, overly introspective and emotional, verging on the maudlin. Yet Lewis avoids bathos in the book at least in part because of a clipped, prose style characterized by short, simple sentences and brief, almost snapshot-like paragraphs. These stylistic devices prevent his wallowing in excessive self-pity; in effect, he becomes a surgeon analyzing a patient's medical chart. Ironically, of course, he is at the same time both surgeon and patient."

Don King has written:
"A close consideration of the prose style of A Grief Observed suggests the book may be read as vers libre or free verse, poetry relying not upon a regular metrical pattern but instead upon pace or cadence. Furthermore, whereas conventional poetry places a premium upon the foot and the line, free verse finds its rhythm in the stanza. Accordingly, the short paragraphs of A Grief Observed function as stanzas linking it with other ostensibly prose works such as Psalms and the Song of Songs. If we read Lewis' book this way, we may find that while his focus upon traditional poetic conventions in his consciously conceived poetry actually restrains his poetic impulse--that is, his concern with form overshadows his poetic sensibilities--the release he experiences unconsciously in free verse liberates his poetic impulse so that A Grief Observed becomes his greatest poem."

As I read A Grief Observed I had all this in the back of my mind. Occasionally I would find myself pulling parts of it out and rewriting them in my mind to reflect more of what I saw as in a poetic structure. Here are a few of what I did. I found they made the book more memorable for me, rather than saving a few quotations which is my normal reading practice.

Her Absence
At first I was very afraid of going to places where H. and I had been happy,
Our favorite pub, our favorite wood.
But I decided to do it at once,
Like sending a pilot up again as soon as possible after he's had a crash.
Unexpectedly, it makes no difference.
Her absence is no more emphatic in those places than anywhere else.
It's not local at all.
I suppose that if one were forbidden all salt one wouldn't notice it much more in any one food than in another.
Eating in general would be different, every day, at every meal.
It is like that.
The act of living is different all through.
Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.

After All Hope Was Gone
It is incredible how much happiness, even how much gaiety, we sometimes had together,
After all hope was gone.
How long, how tranquilly, how nourishingly,
We talked together that last night!
And yet, not quite together.
There's a limit to the 'one flesh.'
You can't really share someone else's weakness, or fear or pain.
What you feel may be bad.
It might conceivably be as bad as what the other felt,
Though I should distrust anyone who claimed that it was.
But it would still be quite different.
When I speak of fear, I mean the merely animal fear,
The recoil of the organism from its destruction;
The smothery feeling; the sense of being a rat in a trap.
It can't be transferred.
The mind can sympathize;
The body, less.
In one way the bodies of lovers can do it least.
All their love passages have trained them to have, not identical, but complementary,
Correlative,
Even opposite, feelings about one another.
We both knew this.
I had my miseries, not hers;
She had hers, not mine.
The end of hers would be the coming-of-age of mine.
We were setting out on different roads.
This cold truth, this terrible traffic regulation
('You, Madam, to the right
-- you, Sir, to the left')
Is just the beginning of the separation
Which is death itself.

Praise Is The Mode Of Love
Praise is the mode of love which always has some element of joy in it.
Praise in due order;
Of Him as the giver,
Of her as the gift.
Don't we in praise somehow enjoy what we praise,
However far we are from it?
I must do more of this.
I have lost the fruition I once had of H.
And I am far, far away in the valley of my unlikeness,
From the fruition which,
If His mercies are infinite,
I may some time have of God.
But by praising I can still,
In some degree, Enjoy her,
And already, In some degree,
Enjoy Him.
Better than nothing
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ahmad al abbadi
I'm a huge fan of anything by Lewis, and this one is no exception. The book isn't meant to be read as a lesson on how to deal with grief or a comment on the human experience of grief. Rather, it contains the raw emotions of one man's individual experience. You see Lewis's grief, anger and doubts, and you also see how he begins to resolve the issue of pain, death, and separation with his faith. Readers should be advised that the author is a Christian and writes a good deal about his faith and how it is challenged and grown through his grief. I've seen other reviewers complain about the inclusion of his faith, but I don't think that should be unexpected from a Christian author in a book dealing with death. It is intensely personal and beautifully written. In short, it's heartbreaking and challenging, but completely worth the read. It's one that I'll keep around and pull out over and over again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
megan malone
Shadowlands has long been one of my favorite movies, so I've always wanted to read the book that inspired. A Grief Observed was certainly no disappointment. A Grief Observed is a powerful portrait of a man torn apart and even away from God by grief, but he learns to handle the grief to come even closer to God. The emotion displayed is powerful as is the intellect.
I'm am currently a college student who (thank God) has not yet had to suffer as much pain and loneliness as is dispayed here. I know that at this point in my life I cannot really relate to this book. But I am so thankful that A Grief Observed will be here to turn to when I do have to live through this type of situation. It is such an inspiration to have this example of a faithful man fighting through despair. I know that this is a book that I will keep with me throughout my life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
fehan
This book details C.S. Lewis's views on the combination of life, death, and faith during times of suffering or loss. It takes the reader through Lewis's psychological coping with the "sudden deprivation [that] brought about a brief loss of faith" (xii) for this famed theologian and Narnia creator. Having gone into this marriage with a looming understanding that Joy was going to die, Lewis was unable to enjoy the full benefits of what Madeleine L'Engle calls the "feast of marriage". Lewis, she continues, had been invited to great feast of marriage, only "...the banquet was rudely snatched away before he had done more than sample the hors d'oeuvres" (xii). "A Grief Observed" is a response to that emotion, a chance to sort through this depth of emotion that was new to Jack.
There is no real game plan, if you will, when it comes to the course of the book. While the beginning starts with "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear" (3), and the general flow of the sentences and tone is very Lewis, including the analogies and word choice; what the reader follows is Lewis making tangible connections with this feeling of grief. As if just as we read it, he is sitting at his desk writing with a general idea, but along the way, finding that these general ideas bring about more understanding for himself than anything. He uses dashes and parenthesis quite often to suggest an author's note or a note that could come on the side to the reader.
This is a very reliable account of Lewis's thoughts since he never intended for its publication, writing it for personal benefit; but did so following persuasion from a few of his closest, most intimate friends with the intent of helping those going through the same thing. Even then, however, he published it under the pen name N.W. Clerk to remain anonymous. While originally published nearly half a century ago, the words within the book continue to be prevalent. Grief, such as it is, is something that is continual and that never fades, nor diminishes in its significance in the human life experience. Rather it is something that comes in all shapes and sizes, while carrying the same weight.
"A Grief Observed" pertains to what I am researching because it displays Lewis's feelings directly after the loss of his wife and the loss of faith he is experiencing. Therefore explaining why Lewis wrote it, as a means to grapple with this sudden void.
The book was written without any audience in mind except the writer. Since Lewis wrote this technically for no one else to read, there comes a more candid side of him. Readers who are used to the style of "Mere Christianity" or "The Four Loves" will feel right at home, while those whom have never picked up a Lewis book ever in their life might find the more educated style uneasy at first. This piece of Lewis however is not nearly as professional as in others. His tone is still there, just as a person's mannerisms are there when they speak and then there is the same flocculation occasionally; yet this is a more demure, more somber Lewis, as if when writing this, his back hunched and head hung low over the paper (since Lewis never learned to type).
All around, those looking for a different Lewis, or a chance for a deeper look into whom he was as a man without having to make a trip to Oxford or Wheaten College, may certainly find themselves among the most general of men after this book. It is short and easy to read, and one that any reader of Lewis should have among them.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eric blood
I actually read this book in connection with a paper I wrote while in college on writing as therapy. This is an excellent example of that. With this book Lewis shares his pain and thus allows you to see him going through the stages of disbelief, anger, acceptance and accommodation in response to the of a death of a loved one. He is also quite honest with himself when he can be about what he is doing at one point he realizes that he is using her death to keep everything as it was by saying that his deceased wife would not have wanted that change rather then saying that he does not want that change. This book is very well written and quite "raw" with true emotion--something you don't often see in written for regarding this subject.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hugh centerville
This is a short book. It started as a journal and I'm not sure if Lewis intended to publish it or not when he first wrote down his thoughts after losing his wife. I read this book as research for a project I'm working on, but I finished it thinking it would be a kind gift to anyone suffering from the loss of a loved one.
This little book is easier to read and understand than The Problem of Pain, which I think is more theology, even if it was supposed to be simplified for the masses. I will keep this book, as I think many others have too, because it is difficult to find a used copy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dian hartati
CS Lewis looks death into the face; he does not flinch and does not console himself with platitudes. He had lost the love of his life and his pain is palpable to the reader. This is a raw and honest book but it is not at all depressing: At the end of the book, Lewis begins to recover: his wish is simply that, on his own death bed, his lover will come back to him and give him the consolation of seeing her face again.

Rather surpisingly, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer myself three weeks after doing this review. The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord! If you read this, say a prayer for me that I may die with courage and joy!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stephany hancock
When I went through a time of incredible grief and confusion, this book was a comfort to me. Lewis was able to express what was turning in my head and heart. I underlined sections of this book, and would go back to them time and time again, because no one else seemed to know or understand what I was trying to convey--the depth of pain and confusion I felt. I felt like I was drowning in the middle of a vast ocean, and even if I could swim I had no idea where the shore was.

It is sentences like this that I could connect with: "How often--will it be for always? How often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say 'I never realized my loss till this moment.'?"

While it didn't give me insight into how to get out of the grief, it helped me bear it, and maybe that was enough.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rahul
Not every author invites readers into the intimacy of his own most personal and profound loss. But not every confirmed bachelor and university professor marries for immigration rather than for love, and later realizes that his heart belongs to the person to whom he is already married, only to formally take her as a real wife during her hospitalization and treatment for a form of cancer that will eventually end her life. But C.S. Lewis is special, and so are his readers.

This personal diary, originally published under a psedonym, offers reassurance that knowing God is good does not preclude feelings of deep sorrow, fear, and uncertainty in the loss of a loved one. Lewis explores the social, emotional, and spiritual earthquakes that are caused by the death of his wife. Losing his intellectual sparring partner, his bedfellow, his friend, and his lover shakes him to the core, yet he clings to Christ as the only source of eteral hope for himself and for his wife Joy.

During a season of grief, I read this book every few weeks. It's a classic and not to be missed, not because it's entertaining, but because it acknowleges deep longings and desires that are intended by our Creator to lead us to Truth.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gigi finney
It can be a little unsettling to see one of the paragons of the Christian faith come to terms with grief by asking if God is a cosmic sadist. But it is ultimately comforting to see that even a man that seemed to have all the answers asked the same questions that the rest of us ask and at the end of it, come through with an even stronger faith in God.
Lewis goes through all the problems that come with grief and loss. A sense of isolation, annoyance at the pat answers ("They're in a better place.."), and wondering where God is. He expresses a sense of worry at forgetting his wife and being forced to remember her only through inadequate picture albums.
Towards the end he rallys, however, and comes to terms with pain.
Personally, I am glad the Lewis had the courage to write this book, albeit with a penname. Who would of thought that loss isn't the end?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mennagasser
This is a mournful book, but it ends in hope. On the death of his wife, C.S. Lewis went through a time of confusion and penned these expressions of grief in assorted notebooks throughout his house, later collecting them into a book published under another name. In this book he reveals his doubts and worries and despairs and self-reprimands, yet interlaced throughout he maintains (tenuously at times) his hope in God, and comes out more faithful than ever.

This book is not a theological or literary treasure like Lewis' other works. This book is a tale of grief. We find in Scripture and all of literature the theme of grief and mourning over the loss of loved ones. Lewis here expresses his own experience with this grief, and seeks to encourage readers with his thoughts.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mr g
*****

These reflections on the experience of bereavement following the death of his wife, demonstrate in real, passionate prose-style Lewis' heart. They also illustrate his mind. The style is particularly honest and sparse probably due to the fact that the book was first published in 1961 under the pseudonym N.W. Clerk, since Lewis wished to avoid identification. It might be helpful for readers to know that though republished in 1963 after his death under his own name, the text still refers to his wife as "H" (her first name, which she rarely used, was Helen).

How is a Christian to grieve? Of what should our understanding of death consist? Where should we turn when all is dark? This book is somewhere between a shoulder to cry on and a light at the end of the tunnel.

*****
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vaibhav
As the fine line between life and death causes mortal man to pursue God, so had Lewis when his wife died. He knew God, but need to know God through this, and to believe God had not lost the love for which He sent Christ. Did God still exist enough to make living bearable without Joy, his wife?This book is excellent for any Christian, whether Catholic or Protestant (or any other variation) going through a state of loss. After a hard breakup, this book helped pull me out of the sucking mire of despair, bringing me toward hope.Buy the inexpensive copy, because the pages will be dogeared and well-read, and you'll likely find so healing, you'll buy copies for friends.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kevin carey infante
I have found much of Lewis' work to be difficult to wade through - style, content, depth. Always worth the wade, it can still be tedious. "A Grief Observed," a slender volume, is both direct and compelling. Easily read in a couple of hours, it reveals a more human (doubting) perspective of his own journey. Personally, I can identify with the struggle more than the triumph these days.
This book works through the stuggle of coming to grips with grief over the death of his wife - railing at God, feeling the misunderstanding of friends and disorientation of life and faith.
It reveals truth that we all move through in resolution of our grief. Not moving too quickly through the process, and ending with yet some doubt I found it genuine, real and felt.
I used this with a group and enjoyed the discussion as we discussed a chapter a week. Great Introduction and Foreword, as well. Worthy of discussion, too!
The resource of "Shadowlands" (sreen movie) or "Through the Shadowlands" (BBC film-for-television) are helpful in contextualizing this book. I showed them after we had read the book and was delighted with the insight it gave persons not familiar with Lewis' life and work.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
atabak
As the fine line between life and death causes mortal man to pursue God, so had Lewis when his wife died. He knew God, but need to know God through this, and to believe God had not lost the love for which He sent Christ. Did God still exist enough to make living bearable without Joy, his wife?This book is excellent for any Christian, whether Catholic or Protestant (or any other variation) going through a state of loss. After a hard breakup, this book helped pull me out of the sucking mire of despair, bringing me toward hope.Buy the inexpensive copy, because the pages will be dogeared and well-read, and you'll likely find so healing, you'll buy copies for friends.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rafi hoq
I recently read this book with the passing of my dad. I'd be lying if I told you reading it comforted me and helped ease the grief. But what it did do was give me a sense of someone who understood and was willing to hurt. I didn't expect it to be an easy book to read mainly because I know that it was just collections from his journal. He spilled much in those journals that he probably wouldn't have spilled had it been a well thought out book; his thoughts and purposes would have been more clear. What you see and read is a man hurting and dealing with it how he can. He allows himself to struggle with how he views God for allowing this to happen to "H.". He was real and honest in this book, something I think is very hard to come by for a lot of authors now. I think the biggest comfort it would bring to Christians struggling with grief is that it's okay to not be okay. It's okay to struggle while dealing with grief and that God allows grief, but ultimately you should seek God instead of wallowing in selfish anguish forever.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jana allingham
This is the first book I have read of CS Lewis's (amazingly enough!) and it won't be my last. I didn't read this at a time of grief, but rather for a book club. However, I am in the process of signing up as a Hospice volunteer, so death and grieving were in my mind when I was reading "A Grief Observed." C.S. Lewis doesn't pull any punches with his grief or with God. He asks tough questions of what kind of God allows such immeasurable pain, yet seems to not be there when the pain and grieving are at their worst. By reading this, others would feel they have permission to be angry at God, to let out their pain and frustration and anger. A great book, especially for those whose faith development is at a high level.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tredici
When my four year-old son, Daniel, in spite of the prayers of many, died in 1997 after cancer treatments, I was angry. I had 'grown up' seeing "A Grief Observed" in my dad's pastoral study but never felt compelled to read it until I was shattered by my son's death. In the pages I related to Lewis' anger at God, his doubt, his fear. As a Christian it is comforting to know other Christians, especially this great man so respected, went through what I went through too. Lewis articulated my feelings about his relationship with God so well. I recommend this helpful book to all who have had to experience an untimely death of a loved one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
madah j
A Grief Observed, written by author and theologian C.S. Lewis, is his personal journals (eventually made into a book after his death) of his process of grieving for the death of his wife Helen. She died 3 years after they got married which didn't seem fair. Even though C.S. Lewis used to be an atheist then became a Christian in his later life while he was married to Helen, he still doubted and questioned God's intentions for this loss. In the book, it illustrated Lewis' everyday trials of his life with out joy.
Since i'm a C.S. Lewis fan, i've read a lot of his works, and A Grief Observe is by far the best. This book is unlike anything else that Lewis has written. It is disturbing at times to read some of his questions and anger towards God. He thinks that God has slammed the door shut and abandoned him during this very difficult and trying time of his life. The difference between this book an another book about grief is that these are actually Lewis's day by day reflections as he goes through the grieving process which can be relevant to someone who is going through the same grieving process. This book is truly life changing and relevant to anyone, no matter your religion, who is grieving over a loved one. Madeleine L'Engle wrote the Forward to this book and said that this book "Gives us permission to admit our own doubts, or own angers and anguishes, and to know that they are a part of the soul's growth." In the end, Lewis doesn't alleviate his grief, but he is more at peace with God. This book is so remarkable because it allows the reader relate their pains associated with grief to Lewis' pains from grief. If you are debating on reading this book because you assume his devotion to God would influence his way of overcoming grief the "christian way" and would not be relevant to the way you might feel,don't put the book down because you might be surprised.
Also, how can anyone judge another person by the way they handle grief? Even if you don't agree with some things he is saying, keep in mind that he is overwhelmed with sadness and pain and feels alone. When his wife died, Lewis was a Christian and had published several amazing Christian books. Since he was a Christian at that time, people might wonder why a Christian would be questioning God like he does, but the pains with grief are universal and everyone experiences some type of grief. I wish I had this book when my grandmother died last year. I went through a really hard time accepting her death and felt sad a lot. This book would of helped me realize that God does love us and is there for us and in the end of the book, Lewis comes to that realization.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
britton
"A Grief Observed" was one of the most powerful books I've ever read. I first read it 5 or 6 years ago. I was amazed at how short the book was but was slammed with the deep grief I felt from Lewis's words. He wrote the book only 4 months after losing his wife Joy. Here was grief displayed in all its rawness and vulnarability. I felt I truly understood this man's heart & soul during his mouring. He questions God &, even, verbally raises his fist to Him. Lewis had written about pain & suffering in his book "The Problem of Pain," but I think he was doing just that: writing about it. Other than the lose of his mother as a child, he had not experienced what he wrote about. God took Lewis on a journey of love & suffering when he met & married Joy Gresham. In the play "Shadowlands," when Joy is dying of cancer, she asks Lewis if their love was worth the suffering they were going through. That's the question Lewis faces. As the book progesses, one can read how Lewis begins to process his grief. At the end, he doesn't find answers to his deep questions, but He knows that God is God & is still sovereign.
Since reading the book, I've lost both parents, one suddenly & one gradually. I've experienced deep grief & now understand Lewis's grief. I have since re-read the book. I didn't go through the questioning that Lewis did, but I understood why he did it. There is an instant brotherhood among those who have experienced lose. Seeing another's pain immediately brings back one's own pain. I think this book would be helpful to those who have suffered the loss of a beloved, however, not until after a period of time. I don't know if the book would be helpful to one, who had recently suffered loss because the words & the person's grief are still painful.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chrishna
This little book kept me from going totally bonkers after my first husband died. I read it numerous times, and I would cry every time. But his honesty and the pain of loving and then losing his wife was what I needed to read. When he talks about how people would slide away and not talk to him about Joy's death, I sure could relate.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zeb lisee
My husband died suddenly and without warning. This little book is a miracle. Well meaning friends gave me several books about how to deal with grief but I found them trite. C.S. Lewis does not write "about gried" or how to "deal with grief". It's a record of his grief and what he experienced and learned as he lived it. He also writes a beautiful, clear and often lyrical english.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amelia
Most of us know the story of C.S. Lewis and Helen Joy Gresham through the movies "Shadowlands". This little volume with a forward written by Douglas H. Gresham, is the most poignant expressive, deeply personal accounts of what it means to grieve over someone you love, that I have ever encountered. He gave form to feelings I was unable to express and provided the words that will remain in my heart as the expression of loss I feel, as I faced the final chapter with my husband Tom. Tom died of Alzheimer's disease in his home as he wished. It is rare that a volume such as this one enters one's life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
steven gilbert
The first time I read this book, I didn't "get it." I read it again after my grandmother died. Then it made sense. Grief isn't doubting, nor is it questioning, but it is an emotion that is even less rational than most emotions.
This book presents Lewis "working through" his grief. He doesn't come to any conclusions per se. In fact, this book doesn't quite have a beginning. But it is a snapshot of a grief-journey that is common to us all.
I am amazed at one thing: since grief is so common, why don't we understand it more? This book sheds some light on a faithful man's grief.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sara taylor
In A Grief Observed, the heart of C.S. Lewis has been peeled away, revealing its tender, fragile core--the tender fragile core of a man who fully loved a woman.

Lewis writes, "The act of living is different all through. Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything." (p. 11) Through these few words, Lewis captures for us the depth and breadth of his loss; it is above him, all around him, inescapable.

Added to his longing for his beloved Joy, is his almost palpable grief. "I not only live each endless day in grief," writes Lewis, `but live each day thinking about living each day in grief." (p. 10) Such emotional words, coming from a man devoured by grief, a man who usually writes such logically-driven, clear-headed theological expositions.

And so is revealed to us C.S. Lewis, the man.

Yet even in this time of immense loss, immense sadness, his faculties do not desert him. Lewis' sharp mind cuts through his grief, to once again to dissect theological concepts. Once such concept Lewis dissects is the reality of suffering as it relates to the nature of God.

Lewis says "The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness." (p.43) Lewis then concludes that God must be a surgeon. "But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting." (p.43)

With his rapier-sharp mind, Lewis slices away dead dogma to reveal a sliver of the living truth: God is a surgeon who allows suffering for our healing.

Sandra Eggers

Author

Dying Body, Growing Faith
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dnf913
I read this book while my almost father-in-law was dying of cancer. It was a strange time for me...not quite a part of the family, yet still grieving in my own way. This book helped me understand what was going on, and the way my fiance and future mother in law were dealing with while they grieved.
Whether you're grieving or are watching someone else grieve, this book is an excellent resource and I found it very comforting. It might not be one I want to read and reread, but it was helpful in a very difficult time in my life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hilarie
I went on a CS Lewis buying spree and this is the first one I received from the store.com. What an amazing book. I felt like I was reading my own journal. CS Lewis is just showing the world that we are only human and yes christians are human also. I have a feeling that christians feel they must be perfect and that they must never ever get depressed or be sorrowful over a death,etc. We christians should never question anything. Also, more important that if something like death happens we should never grieve. I know personally that I was especially grievious over childhood traumas that stole my whole life. I'm 27 but I feel as if I am seven. My christianity and trust in the Lord has gone astray but not totally shipwrecked as I struggled to understand things. I think God understands our human weaknesses. Isn't this what the whole point of Hebrews was? Jesus, being God in flesh knows our weaknesses. Get this book. I would get anything Lewis wrote anyway.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ana karina
A Grief Observed
One of Lewis' trademark talents is that of brevity - his theological musings as well as his fictional allegories are always succinct. "A Grief Observed" is no exception at a mere 60 or so pages. There have been countless books written on the subject of death, and one might been of the opinion that everything that needs to be said has been said already, even before Lewis wrote this particular book. Yet few are indeed so equally human and contain such divine insight as this. Since his own admittedly reluctant conversion to Christianity, Lewis' faith was, in the eyes of his adoring fans and indeed to himself in many respects, tantamount to the Rock of Gibraltar. One could even accuse Lewis of naïve arrogance at times, as though he had God "sussed out". Yet at the death of his wife (though that word today is too empty to describe her relationship to him) Lewis' world came crashing down around him - his "deck of cards" faith, as he puts it, had been destroyed. It would be very easy for his detractors to say that his faith was false all along and that the volumes of Christian apologetics he wrote were authored on the basis of guesswork instead of divine knowledge. It is doubtful that Lewis would argue with these points - they are hinted at by Lewis both in his lowest and highest moments in the book. And yet that is not quite the whole truth of the situation. This is made clear over the course of "A Grief Observed". Lewis emerges from his tragedy with his faith not only intact but also wholly reborn. Rather than the stereotypical Christian view that so many non-Christians and Christians take, the "family reunion in Heaven" (which he rejects are pure fantasy), Lewis accepts (much to his anguish) that God is God, that death is death, and that his wife is indeed in a state of eternal bliss. This reviewer will not spoil how Lewis came to these conclusions, but will say that for those who may doubt the sincerity of his claims there is indeed a "Ring of Truth" to be heard in his findings. This is a book about one man's struggle to come to terms with the reality of death and what it means for us all. It is heartbreaking and yet imparts a sense of supreme joy that is to be found. Highly recommended reading for anyone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eric holmes
I got this for my mother shortly after my beloved dad died in November. They had been married for 57 years. While Lewis' marriage was tragically short by comparison, I suspect many widowers and widows can relate to his anguish. This is a profoundly personal memoir from a brilliant Christian theologian. Yes, he wrestles with theological questions, but in a way many of us can relate to. This is by no means a "preachy" book, and it's brief, just 70-some-odd pages. Brought low by devastating grief, Lewis' expressions of pain are at times raw and heart-rending. Ultimately, however, his musings are life- and faith-affirming. I recommend this to anyone who has lost a loved one -- I benefited from it as a bereaved daughter -- and particularly to mourners who are Christians.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bardley
When I think of C.S. Lewis, I think of the children's books. But this is a book for sophisticated adult. If you are grieving, you will be touched by Lewis' words. I found them so tender and sincere, that I cried. It is a short book, but deeply personal. The beauty of it is that anyone who has grieved for the person they deeply cared for will instantly recognise feelings, deep emotions and internal chaos of the grieving person. It is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Lewis' words are magical and transformational.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kruti shah
Lewis' book (journal, really) captures the feeling of those in grief, there is no doubt about that. June 16, 2000 my wife left this life, 8 weeks to the day after our first child was born. In the midst of our struggle, there were several books that my family and I found comfort in, and this book was one of them.
I rated this book 4 stars because it's difficult. It's not difficult to read, it doesn't contain long arguments or technical language. The content is hard for those in the throws of grief. And yet it is somehow comforting to know that you're not alone, the feelings that you feel aren't the signs of insanity. I remember several times thinking I was going insane, that I'd finally lost it...only to read those exact thoughts from Lewis' journal.
Lewis' experience with grief was different from mine, too. I suppose everyone's is different in some way. Lewis is angry with God, and he struggles with his faith. He explains that it wasn't that he was in danger of losing his belief in God, but that he "was in danger of coming to believe such terrible things about him." You may identify with Lewis' words, and I truly believe you'll find comfort in this book.
If I may, I would like to recommend another book for those who suffer and those in ministry to the suffering, as well. Nicholas Wolterstorff's LAMENT FOR A SON captures the intimate details of grief, and in many ways I identified more with Wolterstorff than I did with Lewis.
For those who've lost, this book is a difficult and yet rewarding right of passage. You travel down the narrow path, on hallowed ground. You make a journey that those who haven't made cannot speak of, and you can find comfort in the experience of those who travel with you.
For those in ministry, this book is an excellent insight into the pain of those to whom you minister. Lewis attempts to coldly analyze his grief, and in the end he cannot. He simply expresses his grief without even attempting to gloss over it. The information you can glean from this book for your ministry is immeasurable.
God bless you as you travel down this long and painful road. Remember, as Lewis did, the hope that will sustain you: God who raises the dead. The journey is difficult, but in the end we will see and hold them again. God be with you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ana lane
"Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything." In this book, C.S Lewis allows the reader to glimpse into the grief of losing a loved one, and the unavoidable questions someone will ask when they have lost a loved one. With Lewis' usual depth and insight, he is able to give a voice to his pain, and at many times, the reader is taken to Lewis' doubts about God's ultimate benevolence.

At the end, Lewis begins to regain his holding on his faith. It is a powerful little book, with as much insight as anything else Lewis wrote. Enjoy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
virginia henley
This is not a long read. It is a very touching and personal journal style account of the thoughts and feelings C.S. Lewis described following the death of his wife, Joy. I appreciated his frankness, at his own expense, with the obvious intent to help others going through the pain, doubt and fear of great loss. Lewis was a good man and the streagth of his faith (and all faith) showed its greatness at its weakest point. I am thankful for his generosity in writing this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
susie reisfelt
If you've ever cried out, "Why, God?", this book will help you see that God did not leave you to suffer for His enjoyment. As C.S. Lewis writes the entries in this journal you can see the mixture of emotions and thoughts; like riding an ocean tossed by intermittent storms. Lewis bares his soul and helps us look at our own. Having read his earlier book, "The Problem of Pain", before reading this one gave me an even deeper look into his thoughts. I recommend them both. I also recommend the movie "Shadowlands" with the reading of this book. Lewis is brilliant, but he is also very human and very candid.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kira mead
I chose this book because CS Lewis has always been one of my favorite authors, although mostly due to his Space Trilogy. After suffering the terrible loss of my only child, I saw several quotes from this book in online articles. So I decided to buy it. It was so helpful, to see his candid thoughts and reflections on the loss of his wife - good to have the camaraderie of someone feeling similar pain, and to help me realize that the crazy thoughts and feelings I was going through are just part of grief. Grief is terrifying and confusing and draining and sooo neverending. I know I can use all the help I can get, just to make it through each day. CS Lewis greatly helped me organize my thoughts and feelings, and to come to terms a little better with the enormous loss I wake up to every day. Thank you CS Lewis, and may you rest in peace in Jesus.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chris abraham
Of everything I've read from the pen of C.S. Lewis, this little book most thoroughly illuminated my heart. I want to buy it in bulk and give it to everyone I know.
This intimate diary of real grief strips away the sensation of solitary, isolated mourning; gives the grief-stricken the permission to feel; provides true language for the emotions so difficult to articulate in the throes of sorrow; and finally offers realistic, believable hope.
This is Lewis' very personal, private writing, something that wasn't written for publication, but for sanity. Those looking for a brilliant story or clever critical essay should look elsewhere, but those seeking understanding of the emotional process of grief ~ or "company for their misery" ~ will find it in this vulnerable, luminous, earnest writing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jan haas
I purchased this book as a response to examining my own grief following the deaths of my parents within two weeks of each other. I didn't find it helpful so much as confirmation that what I was feeling was "normal." This book is one to be studied and referenced.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jatin
I read "A Grief Observed" as part of a study I am making of C.S. Lewis as a Christian apologist. As an atheist, I approach the work as something of an outsider. I found the book very moving. Whatever I may think of Lewis' beliefs, his love for his wife was genuine and profound. I was a little surprised, actually, at how small a role Lewis' Christianity seemed to play in resolving his intense grief.

I recommend the book to anyone, Christian or not, who has experienced the loss of someone close to them.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
linette
The synopsis, the publisher, and the reader from Colorado are all right on target with their comments about this honest, emotionally moving book. Lewis does not hid behind a mask of professorial hubris or pull any punches as he openly confesses his doubts about God and vents his grief in the pages of his journal. He pours out his emotions in what is probably the most "personal" of all his books. Both those suffering the loss of a loved one and those who aren't will be helped by reading this book. Certainly worth obtaining.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
abigail furey
Over the years, this is probably the most popular book among my clients.

Personally I'm not terribly fond of memoirs (thus the 4 stars), because they're only one person's perspective. Grief is way too varied and unique for that experience to be relevant to everyone else.

That said, this one resonates with many people who are grieving, and has withstood the test of time. So I'm breaking my rule about not recommending memoirs, and do recommend you check this one out.

Susan L. Fuller
Author of How to Survive Your Grief When Someone You Love Has Died
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
todd holdridge
A lovely recollection of CS Lewis after his wife's death day by day.
I have used it to to give to recently bereaved people as they can feel the grief and positive thoughts that he has at this wrenching time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tran
When CS Lewis writes, his words at times, are almost our "other voice", the one we should probably listen harder for but because we are just earthly human beings do not. His sense of life and lifes multi-purposes permeate your soul and leave you thirsty for more. A GRIEF OBSERVED is an accounting of his beloved wife's death. But it is more than that. It is interesting to see him vacillate between his faith in God and his anger and frustration towards that same God. Although Lewis is not always coherent, the reader will understand especially if they themselves have experienced a devastating loss, that chaotic wavering of thoughts, that weaves in and out in the darkened halls of your mind, hopeful, in bringing you finally to a peaceful clearing. I have the collection of CS Lewis works but if you must have one or two, THE PROBLEM WITH PAIN and A GRIEF OBSERVED is a good place to start.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
heather landon
Having lost my 13-year old brother in an accident 6 years ago, reading A Grief Observed was like reading my own stream of consciousness. Lewis asked the same questions I did, raged like I did, cried like I did. The Problem of Pain (written earlier by Lewis) addresses an intellectual problem, but A Grief Observed enters into the reality of the hellish world in which we live. And when tragedy comes the way of each person (and it will), Lewis's words offer comfort in a strange way, if only to let us know that we are not alone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nancy cook senn
The wonderful thing about C.S. Lewis was that he put an amazing amount of thought into his faith. He understood better than most that becoming a Christian meant constantly trying to understand more, to examine both one's self and one's relationship to God. His penetrating intellegence towards Christianity is something that is often lacking in religion, and every time I read Lewis I learn something new, both about myself and my faith. Lewis is a true master. Another author who I'd highly recomend to anyone who enjoys Lewis, one who explores the Christian faith as brilliantly as Lewis, is Brian Caldwell. His novel, We All Fall Down is breathtaking. I'd put him on a par with Lewis, both for writing ability and theological brilliance. His novel is one of the few Christian masterpieces. Both Lewis and Caldwell should be read by those who have discovered God and want to explore that faith as deeply as possible, and perhaps more importantly, by those who have not.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
molly mcelroy
Like C. S. Lewis, I never expected my emotions to be so deep that I wavered in my faith. Fortunatly I realized that God is always there through the deepest of sorrow and turmoil. And knowing that He is the Great Comforter has given me peace.
I also recommend Healing Stories of Grief and Faith, From Denial and Despair to Comfort and Peace and Write from Your Heart, A Healing Grief Journal. Also, After the Tears, A Gentle Guide to Help Children Understand Death is a great video.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
esmeralda
I have now finally read the text a grief observed.
I found it very moving. Lewis's Prose evoked the same
Compassion & sympathetic yearnings one felt for the, much cherished, book `A testament of youth,' by `Vera Britain' which understandably has not been out of Print since 1933." ... In Particular, the beautiful but lamenting moment where the dying and previously comatose shell of her fifth & final remaining male friend, held on for her journey back from the front & then Miracously Somehow became human again. Opening its eyes with acknowledgement and love the moment she appeared in the doorway before passing away.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
patty
I have loved the books by C.S. Lewis for several years now, and I have no disappointment to confess in A Grief Observed. In fact, my feelings are quite the opposite. A Grief Observed has truly helped me, indeed, perhaps not in the sense of the authors original intention. Yet merely in the equalizing grief which every human must succumb to on some level, I have been changed by this book. At times I have wept through it, at others I have sat in chilling reflection. All I can say is read it!! :)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lauren g
With that opening sentence, Lewis sets the tone for this amazing memoir. How many of us, in our sorrow-filled ramblings, could achieve this much depth and clarity of thought?

In the process of trying to understand his pain, Lewis demonstrates that he is, indeed, one of the greatest minds the world has ever known. And through this, we find comfort in the fact that even brilliant men succumb to their emotions. Lewis understands what he is feeling, but he cannot control it. He cannot change it.

He is, he writes, on a circle. Just when he feels that the pain is subsiding, it comes back in full force. Perhaps, he theorizes, it is not a circle at all, but a spiral. "But if a spiral, am I going up or down?"

Infinitely more affecting, in many ways, than the film based loosely upon it (Richard Attenborough's 'Shadowlands'), 'A Grief Observed' is one of Lewis' greatest triumphs.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katie reed
Five months ago, I lost a dear friend and in that time, many have felt compelled to recommend books to me on grief. It is this one, however, that has helped my wounded heart the most. I consider C.S. Lewis one of the greatest minds and authors ever - and to hear his honesty and questioning of God in the face of great tragedy made me realize that all I was feeling was "okay" in a sense. And so I continue through the pain, comforted by the writings of this man, and learning from him as well. I would recommend this book to anyone going through the mourning process. And even if you are not, it is good to read to help identify with those who are.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
annie connolly
Having lost my own wife I have much in common with the author. I am not as introspective as he is but he had much to say that was of interest and comfort to me. It is a fine book. but, then, C.W. Lewis is a fine author, I do not rate it with five stars only because I don't think that anyone not having lost a very much loved one can appreciate it fully. For one such as I am, five stars would not be amiss.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
raman
Written immediately after the death of his wife, originally under a pseudonym. It chronicles how he almost completely gave up on God and his faith because of it, and how he worked thru things. On page 81 Lewis writes: "When I lay these questions before God, I get no answer. But a rather special sort of no answer. It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though he shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, 'Peace, child: you don't understand.' " An interesting and insightful read on how anyone's faith can be shaken like a house of cards
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mamaujeni
The death of a spouse in a so-so marriage brings so-so grief. The death of a spouse in a joyously happy marriage throws the survivor into the extremes of emotional pain. "A Grief Observed" comes from the pen of the surviving spouse in the latter sort of union.

At 58 years of age, resolute bachelor C.S. Lewis surprised himself by falling madly in love and getting married, joyously, blissfully married. Four years later his wife Joy died a painful death. Watching her suffer, then losing her tore at everything Lewis believed. And so he wrote this devastatingly honest journal as his life line to God.

Give it somebody you know is suffering. The recipient will recognize their pain and know this is how it works. They will also find a balm in the news that the raw woundedness of it ends.

And read it yourself. It'll make your heart hurt in a renewing way.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kayla gunn
Lewis, as always, makes the reader enter his world and in this book, it is the world of primal grief. Lewis opens his heart and his mind to illuminate for all of us the natural progression of mourning and the profound impact of loss.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
huw collingbourne
C. S. Lewis' book A GRIEF OBSERVED was immeasurably helpful to me as I struggled - and still struggle - to come to grips with the death of my brother. Knowing that Lewis was a deeply religious man, I was reassured that even the religious have doubts about God's goodness. I also found his discussion of the notion of one's faith being tested in times of trouble, highly personal and relevant. I am sending this book to my mother, and others, who still struggles with an abrupt and seemingly final loss.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sascha demerjian
This is my first CS Lewis book and this man is true intellectual giant. His train of thought throughout this book is brilliant. He is in such pain and asks the right questions at the right times. He not only questions God the way we all would question Him but he comes back to God as the answer.
I think that everyone who is grieving the loss of someone very special to them NEEDS to read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kayla byers
As the other reviewers stated, this has more in the way of home truths and comfort than most books I have come across.

I already knew Lewis, from reading the 'CHRONICLES OF NARNIA' as a small boy.

It exudes the same, glowing kind of warmth you get when you sit down at an open fire, after trekking in from some cold and far away, emotional place.

I recommened this to anyone who needs reminding who they are and why they're here.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
erin mcarthur ferlaino
A Grief Observed is probably one of the most emotionally gratifying books I have ever read. Famed apologist C.S. Lewis lays bare the heartache, anger, and guilt that come with and after the sorrow of an immense loss and anyone who takes the journey with him will learn much about this brief yet eternal path we all must walk at one time or another. An essential in any library, highest recommendation.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marion
This was originally published under an a psuedonym (N.W. Clerk) and the name of the true author given after he died. Here Lewis lays bear his doubts, his fears, his pains and anxieties in coping with life as a single person once more following his wife's death. Recommended reading with large parts of the book identifiable for those who have lost any loved one, be it friend, parents, etc..
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
september
Originally published under the psyudonem N.W. Clerk, 'A Grief Observed' is probably one of the most personal works of literature by C.S. Lewis to date. I am a collecter of Lewis's works and I do not believe that there has ever been a book that has stimulated the mind deeper and touched the heart more intimantly than this beautiful book has. It is a truly touching journal of Lewis's doubts and fears accompaning the death of his beloved wife, Joy and even if you have never experienced a loss of this nature, you will find it difficult not to empathize with him as he leads you through the personal areas of his own sorrow, grief, and ultimate redemption. A lovely book, and a indescribable experience!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
michelle felix
Buy this book!
It is not just a book about a husband's loss. It doesn't simply address the grief of one man's love for a woman. It is, quite frankly, a book for anyone, and everyone who has dared or will dare to love someone more than they love themselves.
Nothing, no review, not even the most eloquent of languages will be able to make clear to you the profundity found in this book. It is a mere 89 pages, but its message is eternal!
Even if you have never experienced grief, buy this book. Because no matter how old, or how young you are, all of us will eventually have to deal with loss. Indeed, all of us will have to observe our own grief.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lucy wanjiru
I bought this book out of curiousity and I was pleasantly surprised. C.S. Lewis is now one of my favorite authors and has a captivating writing style that accurately displays his wisdom. He proposes some questions that people have when they are grieving and then describes the transition he makes to recover from lamenting. The book is a little philosophical at times and can be vague, but this book is definitely the work of genius.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
april22110
Reading "A Grief Observed" is somewhat like seeing into a man's soul. Or maybe just his heart. As you turn the pages, it doesn't feel like you are reading a lecture on God or death or the meaning of life. Instead, it is as if you are seeing inside C.S. Lewis' mind, feeling his grief, watching it sculpt and be sculpted by his thoughts. He contradicts himself, changes his mind, wonders out loud. A friend of mine asked me what the book was about, and I told him it was "emotional vomit." C.S. Lewis, going through a very difficult time in his life, just puked his thoughts onto the page. It isn't always clear what he's saying or where he's headed--it probably wasn't clear to him when he wrote it--but it is genuine. And to read something that pure and heartfealt truly is a rare treat.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
shelly uhing
Beloved author C.S. Lewis was only married a few short years when he watched his wife die a painful death. This book chronicles his journey of grief, his questioning of life and wrestling with is God even good. This book helps a reader understand better their own grief journey and that it is ok to ask questions and have grief from loss.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nick von hoene
I love this book. He writes as a young widower, fresh from loss. To me, it was an extremely close mirror of my own mind when I read it, a few months after losing my mate--- full of disjointed thoughts and questions that no one can answer, emotions everywhere. It captured some of the primal spirit of grief instead of giving platitudes and thoughtless assurances that I'd end up even better off than before my loss or trying to neatly package the experience. It's a short book, but maybe not an easy read-- and there is no reason that it should be.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
flaire
Like the other reviewers have noted, here Lewis is at his best when he's at his worst, so to speak, since he is able to turn his sharp, honest, and descriptive mind upon himself to reveal the inner tensions, doubts, and hopes that linger around us when we are in sorrow over loss. Truly a grief observed. The afterward is very well done and fits appropriately with the book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pamela milin
For C.S. Lewis, the written word is no different than the thoughts going on in his head and soul. Few people--authors included--have the profound ability to speak simple truths that seem so hard to get out. There are so many things from this book I will take always with me. It gave me a new angle on how great love truly is and ways to love. It is a must read for anyone who has ever lost a loved one. It is a must read for anyone who is alive. You will lose a loved one and to have C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest apologetic writers on your side of doubt and confusion is more than helpful.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jesus
Lewis journals the agonized philosophical wrestling with the lucid thought that earmarks his other writings. Having been a long time Lewis fan, I found this book strangly comforting when I lost my wife to cancer. His candid account of his journey through overwhelming emotional pain to a deeper spiritual commitment served as validation for my journey.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
the vixen s lair
It's a very relatable book if you are grieving, but it's not encouraging. It's very much wallowing in self pity (understandably) but I felt like it made me feel like I wasn't alone but it didn't make me feel better... It made me feel worse.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cailin
This book simply ripped my heart out when I read it. I cried like a baby. He's so honest about how he feels about God when his wife of 3 years passes away. Lewis is a genius in his other writings, but here, we see a man hurting. We see what grief does to the human soul and the questions that come with it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
visesten
I received this book in exactly the condition the seller stated, and in a timely manner This book is a MUST for those who grieve. C. S. Lewis wrote about the frailty of life and his experiences to regain his faith and his way back to an existence that would help him realize the truth of love for another.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
melissa basnight
Although a genius work in all respects, Lewis does not put together the fundamental reason for WHY God perpetuates universal suffering.

In my book "Why God Wills You to Suffer" I cover this topic in depth. I am certainly not comparing my work to the great CS Lewis, but he really does not answer the question that is fundamental to understanding the WHY of God.

William M Lolli
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jrock r
I read this a month after my own wife's death. I found Lewis's sharing of his grief to be comforting. I found his honesty to be refreshing. You do not need to be a Christian or religious to benefit from this book. I also enjoyed the afterword by Walsh. It helped to put Lewis's book into the context of his life.
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