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A Grief Observed

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  54,622 ratings  ·  3,042 reviews
Written with love, humility, and faith, this brief but poignant volume was first published in 1961 and concerns the death of C. S. Lewis's wife, the American-born poet Joy Davidman. In her introduction to this new edition, 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 a health ...more
Paperback, 76 pages
Published April 21st 2015 by Harper One (first published 1961)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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Matt
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs
To begin with, let me offer you my condolences.

If you’ve come here to read about C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed, you’re probably doing it for a specific reason. It’s not the thing you reach for in times of sunshine and cloudless days and a future of beautiful forevers. It’s the thing you reach for when you are casting about in the dark, looking for something, anything, that might help.

So, I am sorry for your loss. For the grief you are experiencing.

* * *

My grief: On June 22, 2015, my b
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Loretta
I bought this book about ten years ago for a reason. It sat on my bookshelf all that time. Recently a Goodreads friend of mine (Shirley) picked it for me to read for our group's challenge. So I couldn't hide from it anymore.

My mother died in January 2007 and my father died in June 2007. To say that I was overcome with grief is a colossal understatement. Losing one parent is hard enough but two? Bereavement counseling was my lifeline. In counseling they suggested I write in a journal to express m
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Ahmad Sharabiani
A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis

A Grief Observed is a collection of C. S. Lewis's reflections on the experience of bereavement following the death of his wife, Joy Davidman, in 1960. The book was first published in 1961 under the pseudonym N.W. Clerk, as Lewis wished to avoid identification as the author.

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). A Grief Observed explores the processe
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Diane
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, grief
Each person's grief is unique. When C.S. Lewis' wife died in 1960, he journaled and took notes, trying to observe his bereavement. This is a short but meaningful read; it is less than 100 pages, but it took me several days to finish because I frequently had to put the book down and contemplate certain passages.

Lewis often wrote and spoke about his Christianity, and this book has meditations on God and faith and purpose. I am not a religious person, so another reader may find these sections more
...more
Donald Barnett
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After my wife passed away from cancer and I was in the depths of grief, well meaning friends kept bringing me what I call "victory books." These are books about dealing with the death of a loved one that basically said, "If you were a victorious Christian you would get over this." I wanted to throw those books in the pond behind my house. I hurt bad and I didn't want to get over it! I loved her for 20 years and to just "get over it" was to count her as unimportant in my life.

Somehow, and I don'
...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grieving people; Fans of C. S. Lewis
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books
Shelves: 501, memoirs
Heartwrenching narrative about death and mourning. Inspiring musings of somebody who have just lost his loved one. Musings that include all phases of grief from shock, pain, acceptance and moving on. He even went to the stage of questioning the existence and love of God but in a way is so thought-provoking even people with strong faith will need to double check his deep-seated beliefs.

This 76-page poignant, partly angry and deeply moving journal by Clive Staples (C. S.) Lewis (1898-1963) was fir
...more
Kim
Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Reading this book has resulted in an unknown number of panic attacks. I think that this should be one of the book jacket reviews. How can 73 beautifully deckled pages cause such angst?
Words, words, words.

I have a confession. I had to read this twice… the first time through I was a bit inebriated. Okay, more than a bit. I felt that I needed a little push to get me over that cliff… It’s almost like the more time passes the more hesitant I am to revisit the grief. Not that those scabs aren’t heal
...more
Merphy Napier
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't what I was expecting. I thought it would be more of a general exploration of grief but instead it was spesific about CS Lewis loosing his wife. While there wasn't a lot I could relate to in this type of grief, I'm still glad I read it and was able to connect to parts despite our experiences being so different. Def recommend for someone who has lost a spouse or is close to someone who recently has
Maddalena Tomassini
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: most-loved
I read this book for the first time something like four years ago. Me, like everyone else who had gone through the loss of a beloved, will surely recognize the same emotions that Lewis describes.
It's not easy to give a rational review of this book. It's something like a mirror, reading those words makes you feel like Lewis had been looking into your heart when he wrote them.
But this is not only a portrait of loss. It would be reductive to say that he only speaks about his pain. First of all, the
...more
Jon Nakapalau
A beautiful book on loss...what we must search for in our heart when someone we love dies. I must confess that this book brought a mixture of hope and dread to me - I will ponder the questions C.S. Lewis addresses for the rest of my life.
booklady
Sep 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone dealing w/grief
Do we find a book or does it find us? A Grief Observed seemed to 'find' me when I needed consoling insight after my brother died; C. S. Lewis was foreverafter a friend who not only knew and understood something very profound, but also had been there for me when I needed him.

A Grief Observed was also my introduction to the immortal Lewis, having missed the Narnian Chronicles in my childhood. While an improbable first book, Grief is no less excellent for being anomalous. Lewis wrote Grief in respo
...more
Dennis
Jan 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Favorite Quotes:

"I once read the sentence 'I lay awake all night with a toothache, thinking about the toothache an about lying awake.' That's true to life. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief."

"I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whet
...more
Emer (A Little Haze)
Saying goodbye to someone who was there beside us our whole lives is just about the hardest thing we ever have to do.


“And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn’t seem worth starting anything. I can’t settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time
...more
Brian
I plan to follow-up with a longer review when I can increase my phone data Friday and set a hot spot for my laptop. For now, I'll say, I love Lewis more than ever now. Herein lies a picture of a man who reached great heights among critical, intellectual, and Christian circles worldwide, and in this, one of his last books before a soon-coming death, describes the crashing of his entire world in the death of his wife, a falling of his house of cards, as he calls it. I deeply love and respect this ...more
Annelies
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
C.s. Lewis gives us visions on dead not often thought of. In the beginning of the book he is very cynical and embittered. Grieve has overtaken himself as a person. It dominates his daily life. His vision is one of 'with dead the person dies and is no more; neither physical nor metaphysical'. His believe in God crimps.
To the end, his vision slightly changes. He revives in daily life. He thinks of the dead person as an reflection of God, in which the person still can exist, also for them who stay
...more
Amy
May 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: c-s-lewis
"Every grief is different"
Which is so true. I think Douglas H. Gresham rightly notes in his Introduction to this book that the article is an important part of the title. This is A Grief Observed. It is Lewis's own personal struggle and discovery.
Yet at the same time, grief is recognizable. We share something when we grieve, something that transcends specific circumstances. Lewis touches that.
He is so emotional in this book that it shocked me. This isn't the Lewis I recognize, yet at the same ti
...more
Timothy Urges
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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 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 th
...more
Jesús  Erro
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody going through the death, bereavement or separation of a loved one
Recommended to Jesús by: Irene Maciá
ENGLISH: The crudeness of Psalm 22 - “Eli, Eli lama sabactani?” - lived by a twentieth century's human being - is what you can enjoy in this wonderful book. This is a brief autobiographical essay about C.S. Lewis's grief over his wife's death. 52 heartbreaking pages where the author survives the bereavement while creating and modeling a hope based on Christianity. The teaching of the book is extrapolable to losses or emotional separations.

The book is presented as a paradigm of Psalm 22, as it be
...more
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
It's hard to rate a book like this - doesn't feel fully appropriate since it's more an internal dialogue through stages of grief than anything else. C.S. Lewis was always a talented writer, whether penning fiction or non, but this is a diary-style jotting of internal reflections during the horrible stages of losing his wife to cancer.

Written in mini paragraphs that were apparently sections recorded during his thoughts, I can almost picture him waking up at night and unable to go back to sleep,
...more
Michael Perkins
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read most of the Lewis "canon" when I was in my 20's. I am now the same age Lewis was when he died. Consequently, I have lived a lot of life, mixed in with a whole range of people, read a lot, traveled a lot. Got married. Raised a family. Lost loved ones. I know and have experienced a good deal more than when I was in my 20's.

Having said that, I think this book is his most honest and genuine book. I have attempted to pick up some old Lewis, The Four Loves, Surprised by Joy, and see that the to
...more
Rebecca McNutt
Author C.S. Lewis, best known for his work in the fantasy genre writing the Chronicles of Narnia series, unfortunately lost his wife and was told to repress his grief and emotion, keeping up appearances, but in secret he wrote this amazing, sad and very human book consisting of poetry and thoughts he had back at the time.
Louize
Sep 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unlike C.S. Lewis, it was my dad whom I lost 17 years ago; but when he said that “grief felt so like fear” in the beginning of his book, I believe I know what he meant ; or, to make it more precise, I think he knows exactly what he’s talking about.

A Grief Observed offers a look at a man in deep despair, who doubted God because of it, but eventually emerges with a deep understanding of himself, his love for his departed wife, and of God.

In the first part, the question he presented is not “Do God
...more
Melora
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, death
As Madeleine L'Engle says in her introduction, “each experience of grief is unique,” and Lewis was a quirky sort of fellow. His grieving for his wife, so dearly cherished during their far-too-brief marriage, is explored through the format of passionate journal entries. As with others of his works, I find that our thoughts on the issue of theodicy – the problem of pain and a benevolent, all-powerful God – aren't quite the same. Still, his experience of the progression of loss and pain, of struggl ...more
Tina
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Original post at One More Page

Just yesterday, I was chatting with one of my best friends who is also my old household head in Youth for Christ (YFC). She was telling me about her latest Kindle purchase (if you're curious, it's Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel). I told her about how I was reading A Grief Observed in my Kindle, and added that I wanted to buy other C.S. Lewis books there, too, because I realized that his books are a bit too expensive if I buy it here in full price, and I don't rea
...more
Sherry Elmer
I appreciate that this book is titled “A” Grief Observed, and not “Grief Observed;” that Lewis attempts to describe the specific grief he suffers after the death of his wife, and that he is not attempting to describe all grief. I believe it is due to detailing this particular grief that Lewis has managed to write a universally useful observation that allows the reader to relate to the thoughts and anguish found in these pages. The very fact that he isn't attempting to describe my grief, but only ...more
Jim
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
It is difficult for a practicing Christian to write a book about losing a beloved wife without sounding a bit too pat to someone whose beliefs are different. And yet, I do think Lewis was honest with himself: When his wife Joy died of cancer, his recovery involved a kind of hide and seek with God.

Throughout this short book, Lewis maintains his high standards of writing and comes up with such painfully honest observations as the following:
Tonight all the hells of young grief have opened again; t
...more
Barnabas Piper
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this once before, right after college and appreciated the keen observations of God and man. I read it again just now and appreciate the deep humanness of the pain and agony. I believe this to be Lewis's best book in that it differs so dramatically from his others. It is so rich and honest and painful and hopeful.
Demetrius Rogers
This was one of the greatest books I've read this year. Man! This was outstanding. Wow. I can't say enough about the wisdom and insight embedded in these pages. I love short, pithy, and thoughtful works. Concentrated thought can go so far. Add a little water and it expands into a meal. There might be more here than in a book of a 1,000 pages.

My favorite writing of Lewis' is his novel Till We Have Faces. TWHF is about the grief that follows loss, and in this story Lewis nails it in stunning fash
...more
Anna Maria
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book on loss totally captured me. I lost my father many years ago and this book reflects what I proved losing him to cancer. "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear" a sentence that Lewis writes in this book absolutely describes what I felt, I lost my dad when I still needed him and even today that I am a mother I miss him terribly.
Some of the parts are so heartbreaking and sad that I was totally captured right from the beginning till the end. This book surely has a great message.
Nick
Jul 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have had some grief in my life but nothing earth-shattering. I've had grandparents, uncles and aunts, friends, and loads of pets die; however, I have never felt the extreme loss that Lewis touches on so briefly and yet so poignantly here. I had no real reason to pick it up when I did, other than I had never read it and I wanted to read something by Lewis. Now, after reading it, I have two thoughts on this book:

1.) Part of me cannot fully appreciate the weight of this book until I go through m
...more
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Clive Staples Lewis was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge
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We all have our reading bucket lists. James Mustich's 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die is bound to seriously expand that list wit...
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“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” 2598 likes
“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accept it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” 588 likes
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