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A Grief Observed

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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 healthy grief which is not often encouraged. It is helpful indeed that C. S. Lewis, who has been such a successful apologist for Christianity, should have the courage to admit doubt about what he has so superbly proclaimed. It gives us permission to admit our own doubts, our own angers and anguishes, and to know that they are part of the soul's growth."

Written in longhand in notebooks that Lewis found in his home, A Grief Observed probes the "mad midnight moments" of Lewis's mourning and loss, moments in which he questioned what he had previously believed about life and death, marriage, and even God. Indecision and self-pity assailed Lewis. "We are under the harrow and can't escape," he writes. "I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace." Writing A Grief Observed as "a defense against total collapse, a safety valve," he came to recognize that "bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love."

Lewis writes his statement of faith with precision, humor, and grace. Yet neither is Lewis reluctant to confess his continuing doubts and his awareness of his own human frailty. This is precisely the quality which suggests that A Grief Observed may become "among the great devotional books of our age."

76 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1961

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About the author

C.S. Lewis

1,414 books40.2k followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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 University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.

Lewis was married to poet Joy Davidman.
W.H. Lewis was his elder brother]

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Profile Image for Matt.
918 reviews28.3k followers
April 26, 2016
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 brother-in-law Paul drowned. He was an exceptional human being. He was smart – a college graduate working on his PhD. He was fun. He laughed like nothing else. He was athletic. He played college rugby and climbed mountains and ran 50k trail runs. He was a great friend, an incredible brother, and a transcendent uncle. He was life personified. He died at the age of 24.

* * *

All grief is different.

* * *

C.S. Lewis’s grief was the death of his wife.

Clive Staples Lewis was nearing the age of 60 when he married Helen Joy Gresham (nee Davidham, and referred to in A Grief Observed as “H”), an American divorcee who had come to England, leaving behind an abusive husband. Lewis was an Oxford don, a Christian apologist, and the creator of the minimalist epic, The Chronicles of Narnia. He wasn’t looking for a profound and passionate love, but he found it all the same.

Lewis knew that Gresham had terminal cancer when they wed. For a time, remission gave them some measure of hope. The cancer returned, however, and she died, leaving Lewis bereft. This, his first great experience of love, and of the loss of love, spurred him to do what he did in such an inimitable fashion. He wrote.

A Grief Observed is a collection of his meditations. They are written moment-to-moment as he experienced them, so that it’s almost like an old-fashioned live blog. But of course, it’s Lewis doing the writing.

Originally, his reflections were so raw, so honest, that they were published under a pseudonym.

* * *

Right from the start, from the very first page, you know that you have found a companion in this strange new world of loss and emptiness that you’ve entered.

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.

Yes, that’s it exactly. The feeling of being concussed. I remember standing in the receiving line at Paul’s wake for nearly five hours and feeling something that can only be described as palpable nothingness. Everything was sad and hard and vivid (you will never forget the image of young people seeing a young person in a coffin, never) but it didn't really touch me. There was a layer between myself and the world. I felt like I was observing everything from a distant planet. It might be a survival mechanism, this inward retreat, the way that veins constrict when your body is too cold.

Of course, you are not an observer, and you must, at some point, interact, rejoin the flow of humanity:

An odd byproduct of my loss is that I’m aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet. At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate it if they do, and if they don’t.

Nothing can help you. Nothing except the miracle that isn’t going to happen. But grief isn’t logical, so you lash out. You expect too much, even though you know in your heart that nothing would really feel right. Others sense that, and they don’t know how to approach you. It’s awkward. Some over-emote. Others under-emote. Some pity you. Others are ready to move on five minutes after the funeral. I had one friend who managed to do nothing. He was a good college buddy, a groomsman in my wedding, yet I never heard a thing. Not a phone call, text, email, or raven. Based on his Facebook posts, he must have been too busy home brewing. For a short span, I felt an irrational anger towards home brewing. That has mostly passed.

People do try, though. Even though they don’t know what you want; and even though you don’t know what you want. And that is a blessed thing. This very human need to try. It reminded me of the movie Bang the Drum Slowly, when Henry tells Bruce: “Everybody knows everybody is dying; that’s why people are as good as they are.”

Friends who brought meals and groceries. Who watched our kids. Who weren’t afraid to stop by, even though death is a frightening thing, treated by some like a communicable disease you can avoid by ignoring it. (You can’t, by the way). Employers gave us time off. Coworkers covered our projects.

Maybe the worst part is the people with whom you must associate, but who don’t know your loss. You can’t tell them, because it’s over-sharing. But by not telling them, it feels like withholding a terrible secret. That’s when you start to see the utility in mourning clothes. Or just a simple black band around your arm that whispers: I am among you, but not a part of you.

* * *

You have to go on. So they say. You have to go on, except now it is a lonelier place, this life.

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 place than anywhere else. It’s not local at all…Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.

That’s the way of it. You cannot escape it. Anywhere you go. Leave it to Lewis to find the simplest, most perfect way to describe it. Even at my best I’ll quickly snap back to this new reality. I think a thousand times a day: Paul would’ve liked this. An absence like the sky, spread over everything.

* * *

This is a book heavy on spirituality. This isn’t surprising, given its provenance. To his credit, Lewis’s faith never wavered. He gives you an extended discussion about belief, but one that exists within an interesting paradigm. Lewis, you see, never doubted God’s existence. Rather, his dialectic attempts to identify the kind of God that rules above. His assumption about God’s very existence is comforting.

I didn't mind these sections of A Grief Observed, though it’s not what I was seeking. I saw what Lewis was doing as he wrote them: he was trying to keep sane by intellectualizing the process. It probably helped him to retreat back into what he knew. I don’t buy any of what he’s selling, though. If we’re being honest, I have my proof about God. On the day Paul died, I prayed for him to be saved, and then I prayed to die, and both prayers went unanswered. It’s almost empirical at this point.

That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate faith. I do. I see how it has literally saved some of the people around me. It has provided the comfort, the hope, the solace that one needs to keep going. And that’s without mentioning how important the Church community has been to my wife’s family. It is an inspiring and jaw dropping thing to see such generosity. Humans are really at their best during the worst.

You think you know what matters. But you can’t really know the value of abstractions such as love, family, friends, community, until you are called upon to need it. In The Godfather, Mario Puzo’s Don Corleone says to a supplicant, “If you had built up a wall of friendships you wouldn’t have to ask me to help.” He’s right. Live your life so that when you die, your wake lasts for hours, and everyone has a story to tell. Live your life in such a way that when things go wrong, you are surrounded by a wall of love.

Paul loved Kurt Vonnegut. So here’s Vonnegut’s advice: “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” It will pay off in the end.

* * *

Lewis didn't set out to write an advice book. A Grief Observed is not going to show you the pathway out of despair. There are no pithy aphorisms. In this slim volume, the size of a pamphlet, Lewis is honest enough to depict his own troubling doubts:

This is one of the things I’m afraid of. The agonies, the mad midnight moments, must, in the course of nature, die away. But what will follow? Just this apathy, this dead flatness? Will there come a time when I no longer ask why the world is like a mean street, because I shall take the squalor as normal? Does grief finally subside into boredom tinged by faint nausea?

Hard questions without good answers. I feel like I’ve joined a club. A horrible club. I call it “the Other People Club.” For membership, something bad has to happen to you – something that would normally happen to other people.

I take solace in Paul.

It’s a cliché to say that so-and-so would “want this” or “want that.” I also think it can be true. When you know and love someone you know what they would say in a situation, what they would think. You can know and love someone enough that they are there even when they are not. I don’t think Paul would want us all to be unhappy, to view the world as a “mean street.” He loved life too much.

All of life’s lessons come too late to avoid the loss that is the lesson.

Vonnegut again, from A Man Without a Country: “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.’”

It’s obvious that we should live like that. But the sham and drudgery of daily existence makes it hard. Morning commutes. Internet comment boards. Work deadlines. The barista who gave you coffee instead of a double-shot of whatever. All the little things that loom so large until you get that wakeup call that says that never really mattered at all.

Of course, I am the king of sweating the small stuff. On my first day back from work, I went into the courtroom and within a minute, the judge was screaming at my client, screaming at me, and finally screaming at my client again for reasons that still elude me. Normally, this would’ve destroyed me. I would’ve brooded for days. This didn't touch me at all. As I left the courtroom, one of my colleagues gave me a big smile and whispered: “Welcome back.”

I laughed until I nearly cried.

* * *

All grief is, in its own way, the same.

* * *

There are many reasons why this book is so valuable. It gives voice to what you are feeling. It shows you that you are not alone. It gets you through an hour or two, and that hour or two is important when time has stopped.

* * *

I leave you where I started, with my condolences. I wish you the courage to endure what is to come. I wish you strength for the road ahead. And if there is a god, I pray that god goes with you.

Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
402 reviews3,495 followers
March 11, 2023
C.S. Lewis, the famous author of The Chronicles of Narnia, wrote A Grief Observed after the death of his wife.

In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis is grappling with the death of his wife, asking questions of God and about God. He is struggling to understand how God could snatch away his wife and how God could allow her to suffer. Lewis is writing notebook after notebook trying to process his grief. He eventually published this book in the hopes that it would help someone.

For someone grieving, I would not recommend this book because in 1961, grief counseling wasn’t a thing. There have been two deaths in my life that deeply impacted me. The most recent death, I was waking up crying, cried all day long, and went to sleep crying. This went on for weeks until I started to meet with a grief counselor.

C.S. Lewis is writing in his manuscripts, and he talks about how he is afraid of forgetting his wife. As part of my grief counseling, I had the exact same fears. As time goes on, memories will fade. One of my assignments was to write down every memory that I had with the deceased. I had this notebook that had on its cover, “Every moment counts.” Inside, I filled the pages with memories. It helped me to take back control of my life because I knew that I could open that notebook at any time and go through my memories. Also, I remembered that the deceased had a full life, a happy life, filled with so much love and laughter. Before completing the exercise, I was solely focused on The End, where the deceased was suffering tremendously, extremely sick. Of course, I was going to feel sad when I remembered my loved one suffering so much, but I felt a lot better when I remembered that the deceased had a lot of happy times.

Lewis also spends most of the book lamenting the loss of his wife. The loss is a major loss, and he wants to ask God why He is so cruel. However, perhaps, Lewis should be thankful for the time that he had his wife. To find his wife, they both had to speak a common language. They also had to be existing in the same period of time, not born 200 years earlier or later. Plus, they had to meet. His wife was originally married to someone else, and she lived in the United States. Eventually, she was able to make it over to London. It would be almost impossible for that to happen today. What if his wife didn’t speak English, or was born 200 years earlier, or her original husband told her that she couldn’t take off to London? What if she was married to someone else? Maybe the four years that Lewis had with her was a gift.

Lewis is falling apart, but I would hope that he would honor his wife. He had a tremendous reach in literature. She could have been his muse, his inspiration. Her legacy could have lived on in him. The ones that we love can inspire and ignite us. Their love story could have echoed through the ages between the pages of his books; it never had to die. Perhaps she suffered so that he would have more compassion. Maybe he could change the conversation regarding the ill or donated money to cancer research.

When I watched The Fountain, there was a man who planted a tree upon the grave of his wife. He wanted to keep her alive through the tree. When my cat died, I spread his ashes underneath a cherry tree. Every year, right before the anniversary of his death, it blooms. This tree transformed death from something horrible to something beautiful.

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

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Profile Image for Loretta.
306 reviews157 followers
May 5, 2018
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 my grief. It was a very hard process.

I was never angry with God (I'm Catholic) for taking them away from me. As a matter of fact my faith and love in God increased tremendously. Without God's love I don't know how I would have survived.

So, that's the reason why A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis sat on my bookshelf for all these years. I just didn't want to bring my grief to the forefront again. I knew reading the book would bring back a lot of emotions and sadness (which, by the way, never really goes away. It's just a different kind sadness).

A Grief Observed was a painful read. I could feel C.S. Lewis's heartache, raw emotions. I felt a kindred spirit in reading his words and knowing that I wasn't alone in my grief.

Death is hard. The grieving period is hard. It takes time to regroup but in the end you do survive.

Thanks Shirley for picking this book for me. ☺️

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
April 18, 2022
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 processes undergone by the human brain and mind over the course of grieving. The book questions the nature of grief and whether or not returning to normality afterward is even possible within the realm of human existence on earth. Based on a personal journal that he kept, Lewis refers to his wife as "H" throughout the series of reflections, and he reveals that she had died from cancer only three years after their marriage.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوم ماه فوریه سال2016میلادی

عنوان: روایت یک غم؛ نویسنده: سی.اس لوئیس؛ مترجم: نادرفرد؛ انتشارات ایلام، 2008؛ در80ص؛ شابک9781906256258؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده ی20م

داستان «لوئیس (سی.اس لوئیس نویسنده ی هفت کتاب ماجراهای نارنیا)» و «جوی دیویدمن گرشام (نویسنده و شاعر همسر لوئیس)» است، «لوئیس» می‌کوشند تا با چالش‌های فلج‌ کننده ی دردناکترین تجربه ی زندگی‌ خویش درآویزند، و بر آنها چیره شوند؛ «روایتِ یک غم» تنها شریک شدن با غم و درد «لوئیس»، برای از دست دادن همسر نویسنده اش نیست، بلکه به معنای سهیم شدن در درک ایشان از محبت، و بهره بردن از غنای آن دوست داشتن است؛ شیواترین و راستترین واژه ها برای پاسخ به مشکل رنج بردن است، و شرح دردناکی از شجاعت مردی است که با رنج از دست دادن همسر خویش، که سه سال پس از ازدواجشان رخ داد، همچنان به نوشتن یادمانهای خویش ادامه میدهند

نقل نمونه متن: (هیچ کس به من نگفته بود، که غم و اندوه همچون ترس است؛ من هراسان نیستم، اما احساسی دارم چون ترس، لرزیدن دل، بیقراری، و خمیازه کشیدن؛ هنوز هم در حال هضم کردن موضوع هستم؛ گاه احساس میکنم، قدری مست و مدهوشم؛ و یا ضربتی بر مغزم فرود آمده؛ بین من و دنیا، پرده ای افتاده است؛ پذیرفتن آنچه دیگران میگویند، برایم دشوار است، شاید هم تمایل به پذیرفتن آن، برایم دشوار باشد؛ هیچ چیز برایم جالب نیست؛ ولی همچنان، میخواهم دیگران دور و برم باشند؛ لحظه های تنهایی در خانه برایم وحشتناک است؛ فقط چه خوب میشد، اگر کاری با من نداشتند، و با هم صحبت میکردند)؛ پایان نقل

این تکه که از کتاب غمنامه برگزیدم حال و روز این روزهای این فراموشکار نیز هست، البته که «لوئیس» را همچون دیگران با سری «نارنیا»ی ایشان شناخته ام نه با این غمنامه که خواندنی است؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 29/03/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 28/01/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,151 reviews1,688 followers
November 24, 2020

Edvard Munch: Dark Paintings, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh.

Un testo fondamentale di quella che mi viene da definire “letteratura del lutto”.

Iniziato a scrivere pochi giorni dopo la morte della moglie amatissima - che si chiamava Joy e qui diventa chissà perché H. (c’è da dire che il libro uscì firmato con uno pseudonimo) – e pubblicato solo pochi mesi dopo l’evento.
Composto ‘a caldo’.
Al caldo del dolore. Rovente, inarrestabile…


In questo mi sembra che si differenzia dalla maggior parte, se non forse da tutte le opere che si occupano del lutto e del dolore per la perdita della persona amata.

Peccato che C.S. Lewis, lo stesso delle Cronache di Narnia, lo stesso che Anthony Hopkins ha ottimamente portato al cinema nel film “Viaggio in Inghilterra”, dove Joy era interpretata da quella magnifica attrice che è sparita troppo presto dagli schermi, Debra Winger, peccato per me che Lewis fosse così maledettamente credente nella bibbia e nel vangelo, nel cristo e nel redentore, nella trascendenza, fosse così dannatamente avvolto in dio e i suoi derivati che, dal mio punto di vista, finisce per soffocare molte pagine di questo piccolo grande libro.

Anthony Hopkins e Debra Winger in “Shadowlands-Viaggio in Inghilterra” di Richard Attenborpough, 1993.

All’inizio la fede vacilla, Lewis sembra ribellarsi: quando la morte di Joy è fresca, dio è il Sadico Cosmico.
Nella prima metà dell’opera fanno spicco riflessioni del tipo: perché si è così sicuri che la morte ponga fine ai tormenti, perché la separazione che tanto strazia chi rimane dovrebbe essere indolore per chi se ne va?
Un pensiero sconvolgente: se il tormento non finisce con la morte, allora vita e morte sono solo un lungo ininterrotto dolore.
E ancora, …nella sofferenza non si può fare altro che soffrire.

Edvard Munch: Madonna, 1893.

Quando si cade dalla moto, si ha un incidente o una scivolata, il consiglio generale (almeno di quelli che centauri sono o sono stati) è: tornare in sella e ripartire subito, non lasciare che la paura si cristallizzi, combatterla andandole incontro.
Dopo la morte della moglie, Lewis torna subito nel pub preferito, nel loro bosco: quei luoghi non amplificano l’assenza.
Perché l’assenza è come il cielo: …Alzo gli occhi al cielo notturno. Vi è qualcosa di più certo del fatto che in tutte quelle vastità di tempi e di spazi non troverei mai il suo viso, la sua voce, il tocco della sua mano?


È lo stesso atto del vivere che è diverso da prima a dopo, in ogni momento: l’assenza della moglie è come il cielo, si stende sopra ogni cosa.
Eppure, esiste un luogo dove l’assenza è ancora più forte: il nostro corpo, Adesso è come una casa vuota.

Edvard Munch: Malinconia, 1894.

In fondo, la ricetta è nota a tutti: basta concentrarsi sull’hic et nunc, il qui e l’adesso, un granellino dopo l’altro, prima che ce ne rendiamo conto, si è creata una distanza, tra noi e l’evento…
Non succede però la stessa cosa col dolore: puoi concentrarti quanto ti pare, ma un granello di dolore e poi un altro, non fanno un momento di salute.
Piuttosto, è una somma di malattia.
Il dolore è una malattia.
Qual è la cura? Forse chi è in lutto, chi soffre, dovrebbe essere isolato come i lebbrosi.

Il ricordo è una realtà ambigua, non è necessariamente espressione d’amore.


Ma dalla metà in poi a me pare che Lewis recuperi l’equilibrio anglicano che lo rese famoso di qua e di là dell’oceano (le trasmissioni radiofoniche) e così facendo mi perde, mi allontana, mi lascia smarrito nei pensieri filosofici e teologici che riguardano il suo dio, che mi annoiano tanto.

Dio sembra assente nel momento del nostro maggiore bisogno appunto perché è assente, perché non esiste. Ma allora perché sembra così presente quando noi, per dirla con franchezza, non lo cerchiamo?

Profile Image for Donald Barnett.
23 reviews2 followers
August 25, 2013
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't remember how, I came across C.S. Lewis' book A Grief Observed. As I read the first page the tears began to flow and I began my healing as I read the author's experience after losing his wife to cancer. I realized that I wasn't losing my mind because my thoughts were just like his.

I have given this book to many people that are in the midst of grieving over the loss of someone, especially spouses. It is one of the most important books I have ever read because it met me at my point of need.
Profile Image for Swrp.
663 reviews
April 2, 2023
"for the greater the love the greater the grief..."
Profile Image for KamRun .
376 reviews1,418 followers
November 21, 2018
لینک دانلود نسخه الکترونیک کتاب

از هر چشم اندازی که به مرگ بنگریم، بدین معنی است که تمام تجربیات به پایان رسیده اند و مربوط به قلمرو گذشته اند و گذشته،گذشته است. معنی زمان نیز همین است،زمان عنوانی دیگر است برای مرگ و بهشت نیز...بهشت نیز وضعیتی است که تمام چیزهای پیشین درگذشته اند

درباره نویسنده

عموما سی اس لوئیس را در ایران بواسطه مجموعه نارنیا به‌عنوان یک فانتزی‌نویس می‌شناسند، این درحالی‌ست که لوئیس در حوزه الهیات و مذهب هم چهره ای شناخته شده و جهانی محسوب می‌شود. لوئیس تا پایان عمر خود بیش از 50 اثر از خود به جای گذاشت که برخی شهرت جهانی پیدا کردند. او تا دهه سوم عمر خود یک خدانابور بود اما پس از کشاکش درونی بسیار به وجود خدا باور پیدا کرد و سال ها بعد تبدیل به بزرگترین آپولوژیست (مدافعه گر) ایمان مسیحی در قرن بیستم شد. لوئیس در زندگی نامه خودنوشت‌ش در این ارتباط چنین می گوید: در سال 1929 سوار بر اتوبوس به عنوان شخصی ملحد از آکسفورد خارج شدم و در وقت پیاده شدن دیگر یک خداباور بودم. لوئیس و تالکین دوستان صمیمی یکدیگر بودند و بسیاری از نویسندگان و پژوهشگران خلق اثر ارباب حلقه ها را حاصل این دوستی می دانند و در این ارتباط می گویند: اگر سی اس لوئیس با علاقه مندی در پی خواندن پایان این حماسه نبود،امروز ما از چنین اثری محروم می ماندیم

مدتی بعد مباحثاتی طولانی میان وی و تالکین پیرامون الوهیت مسیح درگرفت. لوئیس در نوزدهم سپتامبر 1931 در یک مهمانی شام با انکار الوهیت مسیح، از دوست خود تالکین پرسید چگونه ممکن است زندگی و مرگ فردی که دو هزار سال پیش می زیست ،امروز در جایی که هستیم ما را مدد کند،غیر از اینکه یک نمونه و راهنمای اخلاقی برای ما باشد؟
دو نویسنده تا ساعت 4 صبح با یکدگیر و گفتگو کردند و لوئیس 9 روز بعد رسما خود را مسیحی نامید و پذیرفت که "عیسی مسیح پسر خداست" . وی در نامه ای به یکی از دوستانش چنین نوشت که گفتگوی وی و تالکین تاثیر به سزایی در باور و ��یمانش داشته است. پس از آن لوئیس با انکار عقیده پیشین خود - معلم اخلاق خواندن مسیح - چنین گفت :
کسی که صرفا انسان باشد و چیزهایی را بگوید که عیسی گفت، نمی تواند معلم بزرگ اخلاق باشد. یا باید دیوانه و مجنون باشد - مثل کسی که عقلش پاره سنگ برداشته - و یا شیطانی که از جهنم سربرآورده است. ما باید دست به انتخاب بزنیم. یا این مرد پسر خداست و یا دیوانه و مجنون. می توانیم او را ابله بخوانیم و بگوییم دهانش را ببندد، می توانیم بر او آب دهان اندازیم و او را همچون مجرمی پلید به قتل برسانیم و یا می توانیم بر پاهایش افتاده و او را سرور و خداوند بخوانیم. اما به هیج عنوان با بنده نوازی پوج و بی معنا او را استاد بزرگ اخلاق نخوانیم. او به هیج کس چنین اجازه ای نداد و حتی جان خود را در بر سر این نهاد

آثاری که لوئیس دست به خلق آن زد سرشار از معانی و معارف پنهان و نمادهای ایمان مسیحی بودند. علاوه بر ادبیات داستانی،وی در ارتباط با ایمان مسیحی نیز آثار بسیاری را به نگارش در آورده که معرف ترین آنها، کتاب مسیحیت ناب است.

در ارتباط با کتاب

لوئیس پدر و مادر خود را به علت بیماری سرطان از دست داد. مرگ مادر ضربه روحی سختی به او وارد ساخت. سال ها پس از آن لوئیس با زنی آشنا شد که وی نیز دچار سرطان بود. رابطه دوستانه میان لوئیس و جوی تبدیل به عشقی شور انگیز میان دو مسیحی متعهد شد. مرگ جوی در آینده ای نزدیک نزد پزشکان امری قطعی بود، با این حال جوی و لوئیس با یکدگیر ازدواج کردند و وضعیت عمومی جوی نیز دچار بهبود نسبی شد. پس از چند سال زندگی مشترک و مبارزه طاقت فرسا با بیماری سرطان، جوی در حالی که لوئیس بر بالین وی بود از دنیا رفت. مرگ جوی تجربه ای به شدت تلخ برای لوئیس بود. پس از آن لوئیس دچار غمی جانکاه شد و مدت مدیدی را به همین شیوه گذرانید. در این مدت راستی ایمان و باور وی در ارتباط با نیکو بودن خدا و همینطور احساساتش نسبت به جوی به لرزه درآمد و دچار سوءظنی عمیق نسبت به خویش شد. در این زمان لوئیس افکار خود را در چهار دفترچه یادداشت به مثابه دفاعی دربرابر ویرانی و فروپاشی کامل خویش به نگارش در آورد. در این نوشته‌ها، دو واقعه زندگی مسیح، که پر از تلخی و تنهایی و درد هستند نقش محوری دارند: واقعه باغ جتسیمانی و واقعه تصلیب
دفتر اول با آشفتگی روحی و احساسی تمام در ارتباط با بیماری و مرگ جوی، زندگی پس از مرگ، نقش خدا و باور شخصی خود به آن نوشته شده است. دفتر دوم پس از مرور دفتر اول با خاطری آرام اما سوگوار پیرامون موضوعاتی چون درد و پایان یافتن آن با مرگ، بازنگری خاطراتش با جوی و شک به باور خویش نوشته شده است. پرداختن به این موضوعات از بعد فلسفی در دفتر سوم ادامه می یابد. در دفتر چهارم لوئیس از واقعه ای روحانی صحبت می کند که وی را دچار روشن شدگی و نوعی حکمت نموده و سپس به بیان افکار منسجم و نهایی خود در ارتباط با واقعه مرگ جوی می پردازد.در دفتر اول لوئیس به غیبت خدا در زمان رنج و اندوه اینچنین اشاره می کند: حال در این گیر و دار خدا کجاست؟ وقتی درمانده و نیازمند و وامانده به درگاه خدا می رویم، چه دستگیرمان می شود؟ هیچ! دری بسته! چیزی نیست جز سکوت و هرچه بیشتر بمانیم سکوت سنگین تر می شود. در فصل چهارم لوئیس خود پاسخ این سوال را می دهد: وقتی این سوالات را از خدا می پرسم،جوابی نمی گیرم.اما این نوع خاصی از "جواب نگرفتن" است. مثل دری بسته نیست. بلکه خیره شدنی ساکت،دلسوزانه و توام با مهربانی است.چنانکه گویی سر خود را نه به نشانه مخالفت بلکه به نشانه علامت سوال تکان می دهد و می گوید آرام باش فرزند، تو نمی دانی
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,653 followers
June 20, 2016
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 meaningful. I was more interested in his writings that focused on his grief and how he coped.

As Goodreads friend Matt mentioned in his thoughtful review, if you have sought out this book, it might be because you have recently lost someone and you are seeking solace, as I was. My mother died a few months ago after a long battle with cancer, and it was devastating. Since then I've found it helpful to read other grief memoirs — it is comforting to remember one isn't alone on this journey. Maybe this book will help you, too.

Meaningful Quotes
"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."

"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."

"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, empty successiveness."

"You can't see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears."

"Tonight all the hells of young grief have opened again; the mad words, the bitter resentment, the fluttering in the stomach, the nightmare unreality, the wallowed-in tears. For in grief nothing 'stays put.' One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats."

"In so far as this record was a defense against total collapse, a safety valve, it has done some good. The other end I had in view turns out to have been based on a misunderstanding. I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history, and if I don't stop writing that history at some quite arbitrary point, there's no reason why I should ever stop. There is something new to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape."

"Did you ever know, my dear, how much you took away with you when you left? You have stripped me even of my past, even of the things we never shared."
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,006 reviews36k followers
August 6, 2021
Audiobook -- (free with Audible membership) ... Read by Ralph Cosham
1 hour and 50 minutes

Listening to this book was a reflective experience.
I can't imagine anyone not being able to relate to 'something' .....given it deals with primal human
experiences: life - death- faith - grief - loss - love ...> and expands on all these things -(God, fear, anger. shock, suffering, doubts, memories, love) >>
Its comforting and compelling.

C.S. Lewis started by saying...."No one ever told me grief felt like fear".....
My immediate thought was "No one ever told 'me' grief was so physical".
Lewis didn't talk about the physical pain of grief - but.... he opens up about the shock of stress -- doubts with God -- love -- loss -- (the big loss --His wife) --

Sometimes when I was listening to this audiobook -- (while in our pool) -- I couldn't help but drift into thoughts of MY BIG LOVE -- (my husband) >>> one of us will die and leave the other one.

I took in something Lewis said: "the stronger our LOVE is, the easier it will be facing grief". It will still be hard -- (I can't imagine -and don't want to imagine 'this' specific grief) -- but I do understand - that when love is whole/complete/ clean/ healthy-GRAND --not filled with resentments, regrets, or bitterness -- it 'must' make the death-grieving process a
little more bearable. (I'm thinking because the gratefulness of all the wonderful years spent together) ...

As I say --this was a reflective-listen for me.

Lewis loss the love of his life - his wife. He journaled as to not spread his grief and anger to anyone else in his family or his friends.
I don't journal -but I do a phone-therapy call --[once a month] -- with a woman/therapist --I like her! ..its kinda my journaling-therapy.
I've been doing this the since the early days of the pandemic. I don't feel its critical that I do these therapy calls --but...its my way of being responsible in 'not' distorting anger and grief onto my friends and family, (too) -in the same way and reasons Lewis journaled.

My grief is not THE BIG loss --not a spouse -- (thank GOD!!!) -- but I'm 'semi' estranged from our older daughter.
We have minimal-occasional contact: (text or email) >> but I have not 'talked' with her or 'seen' her in a couple of years --with no plans to do so in the near future.
So... the grief comes and goes. (thankfully--its not a physical pain any longer and its not a daily shock any longer- and its not fear driven) ....
however --
ANY book --that shows Great empathy for grief -loss -suffering - is a a valuable book!! (Laysee's review had me see this) >> Thank you, Laysee!

Beautiful man - beautiful wife -- loved learning a little about their individual uniqueness and talents.

Thank you to Laysee, for putting this book in front of my eyes. I'm glad I listened to it.
Profile Image for Kim.
286 reviews777 followers
October 20, 2010

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 healed but that I’ll just fall again, maybe this time it will be worse. So, I read. And, I didn’t remember… but upon the second reading---and here is another confession--- I mucked the book up. I took one of those fine point pens and underlined and bracketed and exclamation pointed all through it. I haven’t done that in 20 years. So, back to the second reading… this felt like I was reading someone else’s thoughts on Lewis’s thoughts. It was a bit… off-putting. I must have gleamed something from that first run through because I realized that I stole one of his theories. I was talking to a friend and I mentioned how I felt like I was a house of cards. I thought, how brilliant is that? A house of cards, like the Brady Kids built for those green stamps. This is my life. It can be so intricate, so amazing to an outsider (‘Look at her! Look at how well she is doing!’) but it only takes one bump, one Tiger chase and it all comes crashing down. I am so freaking poetic.

”Is this last note a sign that I’m incurable, that when reality smashed my dream to bits, I mope and snarl while the first shock lasts, and then patiently, idiotically, start putting it together again? And so always? However often the house of cards fall, shall I set about rebuilding it? Is that what I’m doing now?”


It’s been 10 months. Really! Only 10 months. Seems like eons ago, right? For some of you Golden Agers, you know what I mean. It’s not like he wasn’t a presence when he was around… drama, Rush, drama, Religion, Rush, drama. ”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.”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A Grief Observed is like my pocket bible. When I’m out in the real world, where life goes on, I can run my fingers across the deckle pages and remember I need to breathe. That someone else knows what it’s like. Even if it was 50 years ago. If I had read this before Maurice died it would have been different. I had experienced parental deaths… before so it’s not that element of just ‘death.’ It’s the loss of that shared life. It’s feeling cosmically ripped off.

‘Thy Will be Done.’ Lewis talks about this.. he talks a lot about religion and how people interpret death and how their feelings are sort of pushed (lovingly, of course) on you. But what more of a ‘fuck you’ is that phrase? Thy will be done? Whose will? Done? Who says? Yeah. Lewis is chock full of bitterness and so am I.

”At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate it if they do, and if they don’t…..Perhaps the bereaved aught to be isolated in special settlements like lepers.”

Yes, this is all about us. Didn’t you know? Didn’t you realize that as you’re talking to us about the weather or about something your kid did or about work we’re constantly thinking about what we’ve been cheated out of? It’s true. It’s selfish and pitiful and absolutely, no doubt about it, true. Think about that next time you talk to someone who has lost their partner. But, never show that you are. Because we will see and we will fester and then you’ll have to read drawn out book reviews about it.

Lewis struggles with his faith. I find this interesting. It's like rubbernecking... I, myself, have questioning faith. Convenient faith? I like to think that his death is for the better… that he’s in less pain now… that we have less of a struggle now. But what do I really know? Lewis says the same thing… who’s to say that their ‘existence’ is any better now? They were in pain during life--Do they suddenly become gentler to us the moment we are out of the body? And if so, why?" So, lots of questions… Then there’s the whole ‘Will I ever see him again?’ Do I believe in that? He’s dead. Six feet under (proverbially). Pushing up daisies, kicked the bucket, shuffled off the mortal coil, bought the farm, sleeping with the fishes, gave up the ghost, danced the last dance, became living challenged. Is there an after life? I find myself comforted with thinking that I’m going to see him again. And then I curse myself out and reason and rationality seeps in and I realize he’s a box of dirt stashed away at the funeral home. Finis. I guess this is my own struggle with faith. Not that I really had any to begin with but after the fact, I’m conveniently trying to grasp on to the wagon… I guess, unlike Lewis, I wasn’t ‘let down’… I wasn’t duped. But, it was interesting to read his rants---the passion and the aching and the illuminations. Some times I had that ‘I told you so’ feeling. Some times, I hung my head in shame. Does grief finally subside into boredom tinged by faint nausea?”

Lewis does have some epiphanies. And for this, I can only give him 4 stars. (I’m biased like that) Maybe I don’t have the intellect to ‘see’ as he does. Maybe I haven’t fully come to terms with it and can persuade myself that ‘in time’ I will accept. ” And suddenly at the very moment when, so far, I mourned H. least, I remembered her best. Indeed it was something (almost) better than memory; an instantaneous, unanswerable impression…. It was as if the lifting of the sorrow removed a barrier.” This hasn’t come to me yet. Each memory is still jarring. Each time I see a photo, I am still stunned. ”The remembered voice---that can turn me at any moment to a whimpering child.” That’s still there and I own it. Reading about his enlightened moments just made me feel lonelier and more confused.

”And all this time I may, once more, be building with cards. And if I am He will once more knock the building flat. He will knock it down as often as proves necessary. Unless I have to be finally given up as hopeless, and left building pasteboard palaces in Hell forever; ‘free among the dead.’”

I like that image… ‘pasteboard palaces in Hell forever’… it doesn’t feel hopeless. It feels like someone gets it.

Carry on.

Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,923 reviews684 followers
March 15, 2018
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.
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
August 16, 2010
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 first published in 1961 following the death (bone cancer, 1960) of his wife Helen Joy Gresham (nee Davidman) who Lewis fondly referred to as simply H. C. S. Lewis died just two years after this book was published.

This book seems to be an ideal companion for people who are in bereavement. While reading, you'll have this feeling that Lewis' thoughts are yours. This is a good idea because C. S. Lewis is one remarkable Christian writer (Screwtape Letters, Miracles: A Preliminary Study, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, etc) and his thoughts are inspiring and can strengthen one's faith especially if that someone has just lost a loved one.

I had my share of deaths in the family. I lost my dad in 1997. My last grandparent died in 1984. Last month, the 15-y/o daughter (as young as my daughter Jillian) of a first cousin died from leukemia. Yesterday, the day I read this book, my maternal aunt was buried.

Thus, I was able to identify with Lewis. I just had to pull out those painful death experiences while reading Lewis' narratives. I rode with him in his journey of emotions from his initial shock (Chapter 1), doubts on the love and wisdom of God (Chapter 2), followed by acceptance recognizing that love does not end with death (Chapter 3) and finally moving on with a positive attitude and hope that living is still worthwhile (Chapter 4). It also offers what you should do to comfort a friend who has just lost someone. Do you say "she is now at peace"? or "everything happens for a reason?" or "there is no death" and "death does not matter"? or "she will now live forever in your memory"? or "she is now with God"? In his moment of grief, Lewis explained that all these words are shallow if not meaningless or even some of them are untrue. Something that most of us normally say and we thought that those are comforting could actually be received by our friend as just plain blubbers or even insulting.

Before, when reading, I used to write on the very last page of the book, the page numbers where the nice quotes are. Lately, I got tired of looking for a pen when reading so I adapted my lawyer-brother's style of folding the upper right-hand corner the page. Out of 76 pages, I almost tip-folded every page! There were even those pages that I could not decide which direction I would like the fold to be.

But this is my favorite as this, for me, is the most heart-wrenching of them all:

"Oh God, God, why did you take such trouble to force this creature out of his shell if it is now doomed to crawl back - to be sucked back - into it?"

This is particularly striking because C. S. Lewis found love in the late middle-age when he met Joy, an American writer and a single-mother (of two sons). One of these two sons, Douglas H. Gresham, even wrote the second introduction of the edition I have of this book. It is a very relevant piece telling what kind of a stepfather Lewis was and how true Lewis and his mother's love was for each other only to be cut short by death. Gresham also stressed that The indefinite article (the "A") in the title serves to make it clear that Lewis's grief is not the quintessential grief experience at the loss of a loved one, but one individual's perspective among countless others. Even a letter in the title makes a lot of "comforting" difference.

A stunning book: A Grief Observed (always remember the "A")!
Profile Image for Murray.
Author 151 books487 followers
April 11, 2023
The difference between this book and his other on suffering, The Problem with Pain, is that A Grief Observed is personal. It is not a theological treatise. It is a cry of agony over the loss of his feisty American wife to cancer. Of the two, it is the one to be preferred. He still has significant thoughts and opinions to offer us but he does so with a broken heart. It makes a difference.
Profile Image for Dream.M.
453 reviews90 followers
January 25, 2020
درباره محتوای کتاب "روایت یک غم " ارجاع میدم به ریویووی کامران عزیز چون خیلی کامله.
چیزی که من میخوام درباره‌ی این کتاب بگم جنبه‌ی اعتراض داره .
این کتاب بنظر من شایسته‌ی میانگین ستاره‌ی چهار و نیم نیست.
یکسری یادداشته فقط، درد دل یه آدم، از اون حرفهایی که همه بعد از وقوع مصیبت با خودشون میزنن. همه چیز توی یک سطحه، نه متن ادبیه نه حتی شما توی اون شاهد چگونگی تحول لوییس و آرامشش می شید. ببینید به خودی خود با این چیزا کار ندارم. ولی سوالم اینه اگر نویسنده این کتاب بجز آقای لوئیس، کسی دیگه بود چی میشد؟
اگر من بیام درباره شکی که بعد از مرگ مادر و خواهرم توی دلم افتاد و دعواهای لفظیم با خدا بنویسم، کی اونو میخونه؟ به فرض که بخونید، شک ندارم اغلبتون میگید یه دختر افسرده چس‌ناله‌های اینستاگرامیش رو چاپ کرده و ارزشی نداره .
واقعا هم همینه . ارزشی نداره
نظر من اینه که این کتاب بخاطر اسم ،عنوان و سابقه‌ی نویسنده‌اش اینطور بولد شده .
نه اینکه مطلقا بی ارزش باشه، شایدم کسی بخونه بهش حس مشترک پیدا کنه، که انگار هم کردن، ولی بنظرم اینجوریام که میگن واوو نیست. واقعا چیز خاصی نیست . از هر طرف نگاهش کردم یه یادداشت معمولی بود.

ببینید، آره ! همه ما بعد مرگ عشقمون داغون میشیم، تجربه مشابه از هم پاشیدن، اما نه به یک اندازه.
همه‌ی حس‌مون درده، درد،درد،درد
برای کنار اومدن با مرگ عزیزترین‌های زندگی هیچ کتابی کمک نمیکنه. هیچ حرفی، فقط درد کشیدن آرومت میکنه. فقط میخوای زندگی نکنی چون فکر میکنی حقت نیست. اصلا چطور میتونی انقدر آشغال و عوضی باشی که بدون اونا روی زمین راه بری؟ این بی‌غیرتیه
اه! بیخیال

مرسی از احسان شکرایی بخاطر فایل کتاب. در مجموع خوندنش خوب بود . از اون بهتر حس خوب داشتن یه رفیقه که میخواد یجوری به روش مورد علاقش، بهت نشون بده به فکرته. حتما خیلی افتضاح بنظر میومدم 😥
مرسی بفکرم بودی رفیق ،این مهربونی عالیه و اشکمو درمیاره
Profile Image for Maria Clara.
995 reviews505 followers
January 11, 2018
Hacía tiempo que quería leer este libro y realmente me alegro de haberlo hecho. Un libro, sea dicho de paso, que se lee en una hora. A simple vista, podríamos decir que el argumento de la historia es muy sencillo: el duelo por la muerte de un ser querido y la fe en Dios. Pero en sus páginas nos encontramos con muchas preguntas, a las que cuesta encontrar una respuesta.
Profile Image for Brian.
688 reviews335 followers
March 7, 2023
“You can’t see anything properly when your eyes are blurred with tears.”

I picked up A GRIEF OBSERVED after the recent death of an aunt who was my spiritual mentor. Her death just hurts, and I decided to try out Mr. Lewis as a complement to my prayer and devotional life as another tool to navigate this season.

First off, both of the text’s introductions are good reading in their own right. They are by Madeleine
L’Engle and Douglas Gresham. Consider these thoughts from them-
Ms. L’Engle:
• “What we work out in our journals we don’t take out on family and friends.”
• “But our memories, precious though they are, still are like sieves, and the memories inevitably leak through.”
• “It gives us permission to admit our own doubts, our own angers and anguishes, and to know that they are part of the soul’s growth.”
Mr. Gresham:
• “This book is a man emotionally naked in his own Gethsemane.”
• “…for the greater the love the greater the grief, and the stronger the faith the more savagely will Satan storm its fortress.”

In this text, culled from journals that he wrote in the aftermath of his wife’s death from cancer, Mr. Lewis has intellectually and honestly dealt with Christian grief, and although it may not be for all, it was good for me.

Some thoughts/moments that stand out, and made me pause and ponder as I read them include:
1. The idea of how we remake the memory of those we mourn into our own images. We make their memory serve our own purposes, as opposed to who they actually were.
2. The brutal honesty with which Lewis admits his anger at the false hopes that he had through his wife’s illness, and how he struggled when put to the test of trusting in divine will.
3. Chapter 3 is ferociously honest and true and very theologically deep. Deep not in the sense of the depth of its content, but in the depth of its raw emotion.

Here is a sampling of thoughts/quotes from the text. So much I could have chosen:
• “And no one ever told me about the laziness of grief.”
• “I sometimes think that shame, mere awkward, senseless shame, does as much towards preventing good acts and straightforward happiness as any of our vices do.”
• “One only meets each hour or moment that comes.”
• “You can’t really share someone else’s weakness, or fear or pain.”
• “Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.”
• “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”
• “And the past is the past and that is what time means, and time itself is one more name for death.”
• “Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not in imagination.”
• “For in grief nothing ‘stays put’.”
• “Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process.”
• “Praise is the mode of love which always has some element of joy in it.”
• “I need Christ, not something that resembles Him.”
• “Not my idea of God, but God.”
• “The best is perhaps what we understand least.”
• “How wicked it would be, if we could, to call the dead back!”

I would encourage any reader to stick with the text. It grows on itself and gets better as it goes along. You will see Lewis’, and hopefully your own, process as you journey with him through these feelings. The last ten pages are one astounding concept/thought after another!

Reading A GRIEF OBSERVED was helpful to me in this time of loss. Unfortunately, I know I will return to its pages as mortality takes it toll on those around me. And I know I will find something of value there on each revisit.
Profile Image for Mia.
13 reviews9 followers
February 22, 2013
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 main theme is love. May I say it's about Love.
It's because that love existed that it could be "lost".
It's moving the way he talks about his wife and I don't think there will ever be a woman who wouldn't want that kind of love. Friendship, complicity, loyalty, honesty, protection, this and much more was what formed their relationship.
Lewis talks about his two major loves: God and his wife.
He asks "the" question everybody who have been in pain had at least once asked God: why? And he does get angry. He does get sad, he does scream through ink on paper. He screams about his suffering and ours.
But yet, this is not a book about pain.
There is fear. There is hope. It's not bitter, it's bittersweet, since through screams he understands that a goodbye is not forever, through anger he understands that nothing is really over. That she is not really over, she is not really dead till he has got that everlasting hope to rejoin.
The book comes near the end with an appointment: she'll be there when it'll be his time. It's quite funny the way she says that neither Heaven or Hell could stop her. And then the book ends leaving you with a little sad smile, a bittersweet emotion which is a mixture of hope, fear, sadness and courage.
This book helped me a lot in my darkest days. We know he used to say that you become friend with someone saying "you too". That's why I think about him like a friend, a mentor, a man who wasn't just an intellectual but also a man who was able to touch the human heart in its most wounded spots without falling in mere complaining.
I suggest this book to anyone who have suffered the same even if sometimes it takes bravery to look in the mirror of your wounds. But, I can promise you, once you do you find yourself a new friend and new hopes.
Profile Image for Raha.
186 reviews178 followers
July 26, 2019
سی. اس. لوئیس نویسنده معروف سری کتاب های "نارنیا" در اواسط میانسالی عاشق زنی به نام "جوی" می شود که مبتلا به بیماری سرطان هست. دوام ازدواج این دو نفر چند سالی نمی پاید و با مرگ "جوی" این پیوند به پایان می رسد. مرگ "جوی" بنیانِ ایمان لوئیس به خدا و مذهب را به لرزه می آورد و به نبردی ذهنی برای پذیرش یا انکار خدا از سوی او می انجامد
خدا کجا است؟ ... وقتی درمانده و نیازمند و وامانده به درگاه خدا می رویم چه دست گیرمان می شود؟ هیچ! دری بسته

آیا ایمان داشتن به خدایی بد، منطقی است؟ آن هم خدایی تا این اندازه بد؟ این موجودِ کیهانیِ سادیسمی و کینه توز و خرفت؟

گاه دشوار است که نگوییم: خدایا، خدا را(برای این همه ظلم و نفرت) ببخش

بیشتر اوقات برای کسی که عزیزی رو از دست میده غیرواقعی ترین مساله اینه که چطور امکان داره که زندگی همچنان در جریان باشه، اینکه چطور ممکنه که زمین همچنان بر مدار همیشگیش بچره و اصلا چیزی تغییر نکرده باشه!؟

سخته قبول کردن اینکه تو دنیایی زنده بمونی که می دونی اون عزیز دیگه حضور نداره، و از اون سخت تر، باور به حضور و وجود خداییه که اون عزیز رو ازت گرفته. اینجاست که به باور خودت اصلا اگر خدایی هم وجود داشته باشه ، قطعا ظالمترین و بی رحمترین خالقیه که به عمرت شناختی

فقط گذر زمان هست که می تونه التیام دهنده ی درد هایی از این دست باشه. عبور لحظه ها و گذر عمر به مرور جای��زینی میشه برای پذیرش این فقدان . در طول زمان و پس از فروکش کردن تمام خشم و نفرتمون، یاد می گیریم که گاهی اوقات بعضی مسائل رو می بایست پذیرفت، اینکه می بایست مرگ رو، به عنوان بخشی از فرایند یک زندگی پذیرفت

لوئیس در اواخر کتاب و با پذیرش مرگ "جوی" اعتراف میکنه که
آنچه در مورد آن موجود سادیسمی می گفتم بیشتر نشأت گرفته از نفرتم بود تا افکارم. و از آن لذتی می بردم که فقط برای انسانی در رنج و عذابْ قابل درک است؛ مثل لذتی که در مقابله به مثل کردن است. این فقط یاوه گویی بود - ناسزای محض؛ فقط به خدا می گفتم که دربارۀ او چه فکر می کردم

وقتی دق دل خود را خالی می کنیم برای لحظه ای احساس ارامش به ما دست می دهد
Profile Image for booklady.
2,235 reviews65 followers
January 27, 2011
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 response to his own loss of a beloved wife Joy which hit him very hard and rocked his Christian faith down to the very foundation.

In that respect, I highly recommend it to anyone dealing with grief or trying to help someone else who is so suffering. I've reread this book several times and have found its quiet eloquence helpful regardless of where you are in your life's journey.
Profile Image for Laysee.
498 reviews233 followers
August 6, 2021
“… for both lovers, and for all pairs of lovers without exception, bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love.” - C. S. Lewis

There are books we read for escape or enjoyment. Then there are books we read for direction or edification. A Grief Observed belongs to the latter category.

C. S. Lewis, a British writer, lay theologian, and Christian apologist, is best known for his work of fiction such as The Screwtape Letters and The Chronicles of Narnia as well as non-fiction Christian apologetics that include Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain. Last August, I read his memoir, Surprised by Joy, which I enjoyed for a look at how a stubborn atheist eventually became a believer. Lewis wrote intelligently and I was in awe of his brilliant mind.

Published in 1961, A Grief Observed is a very personal book. The four chapters (only 109 pages on the Kindle edition) began as a collection of journal entries Lewis wrote after his wife, Joy Davidson, died in 1960. Poor Lewis! I felt his pain. Of grief, he noted, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid.” Also, “And no one ever told me about the laziness of grief. Except at my job - when the machine seems to run on much as usual - I loathe the slightest effort.”

For half of this book, we hear Lewis beating his breast and raging at God and calling him the Comic Sadist. Anyone who has lost a spouse or lover would be able to relate to the impenetrable anguish, unrelenting loneliness, searing loss, and all-circling grief that reduce life to a mere flat, shabby, worn-out, joyless existence. Lewis also recounted how colleagues, friends, and family had difficulty figuring out how to communicate with him. He recalled being unable to talk to his children, “The moment I try, there appears on their faces neither grief, nor love, nor fear, nor pity, but the most fatal of all non-conductors, embarrassment. They look as if I were committing an indecency.”

Perhaps, the hardest struggle was in reconciling this bottomless grief with his faith and the idea of a loving God. In his own words, “Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms.” When he felt most desperate, God seemed so absent: ”A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside.“ I love how human and honest Lewis was in this admission, “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.”

I think grief affects us all alike, whether you believe in God or not. It is not any easier for believers than for non-believers even though we may think otherwise. I kept on reading and did gain some precious insight from Lewis’ reflection on his grief experience. There were no easy answers even as Lewis reconnected with his Cosmic Sadist and found a way beyond sorrow of remembering and loving his wife.

A Grief Observed is a profoundly empathic reflection on the experience of loss and grief. Thank you, Mr. Lewis, for sharing your journey with us.
Profile Image for ☆LaurA☆.
211 reviews64 followers
February 23, 2023
Avrei voluto avere tra le mani questo libricino 10 anni fa.
Sono già passati 10 anni?
Cazzo papà come vola il tempo.
Non sono mai stata credente, o almeno non credo nella chiesa come istituzione, ma VOGLIO credere che, una volta morta, almeno la mia anima resti da qualche parte, magari a tirare le gambe di qualcuno.

È razionale credere in un Dio cattivo? O comunque, in un Dio tanto cattivo? Il Sadico Cosmico, l’idiota malevolo?
Il Dio che ha dato il cancro a 3 membri su 3 della mia famiglia? Queste sono prove?
Ho sempre detto a mia mamma che probabilmente, nella vita precedente, abbiamo mangiato bambini perché se no non me lo spiego.
Dov'è Dio quando ne abbiamo bisogno?

Lewis riesce a dare voce al dolore. Riesce ad esprimere le sensazioni che tanti di noi, perdendo qualcuno che abbiamo amato, hanno provato.
Scrivere per esorcizzare, leggere per fare altrettanto.

Profile Image for Sana.
104 reviews60 followers
September 7, 2021
چقدر زنشو دوست داشته بود وچقدر احترامشو داشت مااینجا یه ماه از فوت همسرش نگذشته میره همسر دوم میگیره ویا همسرش زنده ست ولی بازم میره زن دوم میگیره بعد کلی هم ادعا دارن😏😁
Profile Image for Mohammad Hanifeh.
289 reviews81 followers
December 5, 2018
بیشتر کتاب را در مطب دکتر و در زمان انتظار برای خالی شدن سرم‌های شیمی‌درمانی مادرم خواندم. از متن کتاب به خودیِ خود، چیز زیادی دستگیرم نشد و به اندازهٔ انتظارم نبود. اما کار مهمی که این کتاب برای من کرد، دادن سرنخ‌هایی بود که پس از خواندنش به تأملات بسیاری منجر شد و همین هم بسیار ارزشمند است.

هزاران سؤال در ذهنم هست که جوابشان را نمی‌دانم. نمی‌دانم چرا مادرم باید در این دوره از زندگی‌اش و زندگی‌مان رنج سرطان را تحمل کند. در معنای زندگی دچار شک ش��ه‌ام و دلیل همهٔ رنج‌ها را نمی‌دانم. قبلاً خیال می‌کردم رنج‌ها در جهت ساختن انسان برای کارهای لازم آینده به آدم وارد می‌شوند. اما شک دارم چنین باشد. مادرم پنجاه و چند سالش است و این رنج، جز ضعیف کردن و غمگین‌تر کردنش کاری نخواهد کرد. بعضی می‌گویند رنج‌ها گناهان را می‌شویند که این هم توجیه خوبی نیست. مادرم قرار نیست به قدیس بدل شود. به اندازهٔ کافی خوب است و بیش از اندازه رنج دیده است. از مرگ همسرش -پدرم- هم هنوز یک سال نگذشته است... خلاصه که معنای این‌همه درد و رنج و غم را نمی‌فهمم.

بعداً اگر حالم بهتر بود و حوصله‌اش را داشتم، چیز بهتری می‌نویسم...
Profile Image for Brian .
414 reviews5 followers
February 26, 2022
2.25.22: I wanted to find out if T.S. Eliot had a friendship with Lewis, and in my search discovered Eliot had helped publish this work for Lewis under a pseudonym. I wanted to update and share because I at first thought he had been upfront about what he had believed. Perhaps, in that mental condition, he preferred to wait.

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 man.


I had an interesting perspective reading this along with “Mere Christianity,” two works at polar places of age (at least the first few books in “Mere Christianity” were early talks). The earlier work will soon appear on my review list, and I found the talk I’ve heard about it didn’t disappoint me. He says profound things, in profound wisdom, with substance, and it impacts your mind. Then “Grief Observed,” at the closing of his life, after he had been established with several other books that brought people the same profundity. In this work, the great Lewis is just a broken, hurting, struggling man, reminding us he came from where we also came, dust (taking a Christian biblical perspective here).

I read Lewis believed in a form of purgatory, where Christians come to the end of life, and Jesus will let them in because they had faith, but they could have done better, so He allows them to be purged if they so choose. I wonder if he prayed in his life that God would purge him in this life, so he would not have to do purgatory. This grief describes a purging. All the darkness in him surfaces, all the weakness, and the frailty and potential of human nature to fail. He calls his life, with all his accomplishments, and the enduring reputation he still holds, a “house of cards.” I must keep in mind that this reveals his view in his state of mind, but doesn’t necessitate objective reality.

This could be encouraging to people who know this kind of grief. I have never experienced the depths to this level. Some Christians may doubt their lives and despair, but if C.S. Lewis struggled this way, they could see even those elevated and known as God’s voice to the world struggle too. We are all human in the end. Only One can claim perfection. It took my whole life up to this point to learn that, and it’s easier than it was as a young arrogant kid, but I’m sure I have much to learn. Reading more Lewis will aid in that I’m sure.

The book forms a flowing image of a broken man. He doubts everything. His old atheist thought patterns emerge. His logic turns against God instead of the usual. Through it all inclinations to find something to get him through emerge, a search for renewed faith and strength. The majority unfolds brutal honesty. He accuses God of torture. He calls Him a Divine Imbecile.

I’ve learned writing becomes more powerful with honesty. Can someone be more honest than this? To publish a book contradicting all he has taught and believed. He could have kept it all a secret. But he published it. He gave us a true picture of himself. He said “I’m not a super-Christian. I’m just a flesh and blood instrument, just like you. My gifts don’t make me more special or stronger. God gets all the glory in the end.” How humble is that? I don’t know if I could do that.

He writes with gorgeous, poetic style, and uses great literary techniques. He wrote from the heart, not having strength to focus on how he wrote it. A true writer from the heart.
Profile Image for Dennis.
57 reviews8 followers
May 27, 2014
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 whether they'll 'say something about it' or not. I hate if they do, and if they don't."

"Aren't all these notes the senseless writings of a man who won't accept the fact that there is noting we can do with suffering except to suffer it?"

"We were even told, 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accept it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of curse it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination."

"I thought I trusted the rope until it mattered to me whether it would bear me. Not it matters and I find I didn't."
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,354 reviews123 followers
November 6, 2022
I hadn't heard about this book until recently but that's becoming a theme. Once you are bereaved you see grief everywhere.

As were most I was brought up on the Chronicles of Narnia, I didn't realise at the time how religion wove itself within those novels however it seems when Lewis lost his wife that belief began to wane. He questioned it, analysed it, played with it.

This is Lewis's journal observing his grief for his wife and while everyone's grief is unique to them, there's always stands you can pull out that relate to you and I definitely found strands of my own grief for my sister in these pages.

I'm glad I read this little book, for someone else's grief experience and also some background on a author who featured a lot in my childhood. 

I'm not here to rate anyone's grief, it's a five star from me.
Profile Image for piperitapitta.
950 reviews333 followers
January 26, 2018

Leggendo Quel che resta del giorno mi sono improvvisamente ricordata, per associazione di idee (vuoi perché il protagonista è sempre Anthony Hopkins, e vuoi perché sono due film, entrambi ambientati in Inghilterra, che ho visto nello stesso periodo al piccolo cinema teatro Arcobaleno su Via Nomentana) di Viaggio in Inghilterra di Richard Attenborough.
Ricordavo gli attori, il già citato Hopkins e la sempre bella Debra Winger (attrice da me tanto amata in gioventù); ma non la trama, che ho appena riletto su Wikipedia, scoprendo che narra la storia d'amore di C.S. Lewis, lo scrittore autore del famoso Le cronache di Narnia con l'americana Joy Gresham.


Ma è anche l'autore di Diario di un dolore, che traccia il percorso doloroso e l'elaborazione del lutto che segue alla scomparsa, qualche tempo dopo, della donna amata.
Ecco, credo che certi cerchi, che si aprono nella vita a nostra insaputa, finiscano sempre poi per chiudersi quando meno ce lo aspettiamo: magari anche in un giorno di festa quando, seduta in poltrona con il Kindle in una mano e l'iPhone nell'altra, ti ricordi all'improvviso di cercare notizie su di un film che avevi visto ventiquattro anni prima e che narrava la storia di un amore grande, senza sapere, poi, che di quell'amore avresti letto l'epilogo nelle toccanti parole di Lewis molti anni dopo, né che quelle parole, dono di un'amica cara, ti avrebbero donato sollievo, e spinta, per raccontare ed elaborare il tuo dolore, anch'esso senza fine.
Come Lewis, e grazie a Lewis, in un'epoca moderna, in questi ultimi (quasi) due anni, anche io ho punteggiato la mia esistenza di appunti, di foto, di ricordi, di note nel telefonino e di post per non dimenticare, per far sì che ogni ricordo tornasse a vivere, che ogni parola non fosse dimenticata, che ogni momento potesse scandire, in me, la cronaca di un dolore che non finirà mai, ma che impara a con-vivere giorno dopo giorno. E, anche questo, in altro modo, è amore.

25 gennaio 2018
Tutto questo, scritto un paio di mesi fa, torna prepotentemente a essere presente oggi, in questi giorni, non senza dolore, ma con rinnovato dolore, rapita da tanta bellezza e lucidità, leggendo L'anno del pensiero magico di Joan Didion.
Profile Image for Timothy Urgest.
507 reviews263 followers
May 11, 2020
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 the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.

In my nearly 30 years of existence I have yet to experience any great loss. But I know one day it will come and one day I will cope.

I have, however, experienced depression, and Lewis’ explanation of grief succinctly covers certain aspects of the illness: the apathy and the ennui that eats you alive. You don’t care, and yet you care too much. It becomes a pit of tar that’s inescapable, but the thought of escaping is terrifying because that would result in change. And change is hard to face when you can’t even bring yourself to brush your teeth. Depression is much more than sadness, but sadness plays its part.

I’m much better than I was in my younger years, but Lewis brought back some feelings that were once hard to acknowledge. You don’t realize how bad it is until you’re out of it.

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.’
Profile Image for Michael Perkins.
Author 6 books356 followers
November 4, 2021
The first line in the book....

"No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.”

“Cancer, and cancer, and cancer. My mother, my father, my wife. I wonder who is next in the queue.”

Further in the text.....

“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. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?”

Originally the book was published under a pseudonym, Dimidius. After Lewis died, his estate gave permission to use his real name as author.


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 (and now have grandchildren). 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 tone is very academic and rather lacking in feeling. It's the logic of a bachelor ivory tower Don who hung out with people exactly like himself.

It was the entrance of Joy Davidman and her two sons into his life that put him in touch with humanity. And it was the loss of Joy that shattered all the stuffy nonsense of his arguments in the Problem of Pain and made him feel real pain to the point where he is angry with God and even refers to him as a Cosmic Sadist. This is the real world.

Meanwhile, many fans of Lewis don't realize that he gave up on his Mere Christianity apologetics late in life. Surprised By Joy and his other apologetics were aimed at his peers, including The Inklings. When he found he could not change any of their minds, and even alienated Tolkien in the process, he discarded these arguments. He turned to writing The Chronicles of Narnia instead.


The C.S. Lewis you never knew....



Interesting article on Lewis from The New Yorker....


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