A Grief Observed

Posted by on Feb 24, 2015 in Life After Phoenix | 3 Comments

Sometimes, it is better to let others speak for you. Honestly, I could not of said any of this better.

Excerpts from chapter one:

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 the others to be about me.

On the rebound one passes into tears and pathos. Maudlin tears. I almost prefer the moments of agony. These are at least clean and honest. But the bath of self-pity, the wallow, the loathsome sticky-sweet pleasure of indulging it – that disgusts me. And even while I am doing it I know it leads me to misrepresent [P.] herself.

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

I tried to put some of these thought to C. this afternoon. He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: ‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’ . . . Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’ . . . Of course it’s easy enough to say that God seems absent at our greatest need because HeĀ is absent – non-existent. But then why does He seems so present when, to put it quite frankly, we don’t ask for Him?

I cannot talk to [others] about her. The moment I try, there appears on their faces neither grief, nor love, nor fear, nor pity but the most fatal of all the non-conductors, embarrassment. They look as if I were committing an indecency. They are longing for me to stop.

Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or refection: 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 in grief.

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

~C.S. Lewis




  1. Jen Tufts
    February 24, 2015

    So glad you found his words. CS Lewis has always been a dear friend to my soul. Love you!

  2. Debbie Kanofsky
    February 24, 2015


    I so feel your pain. When our Beth died, after a little bit, people would look at me like you have no right to be talking about your baby-she’s not here! I had another so called friend that two weeks after Beth died she had the nerve to tell me that I should be over this by now. I so wanted to scream at her and tell her she still had her baby (which had been born 6 weeks before Beth)

    C.S. Lewis really hit the nail on the head with his description of death.

    You and Luke are in our prayers. BTW, Wesley is adorable. Love you both.

    Aunt Debbie

  3. Sally
    February 24, 2015

    Yesterday, I read about another little baby that died of cancer and it ripped the scab off of my grief and I cried for hours…not a wailing of sobs but an oozing of tears that wouldn’t stop. I wanted to call you but I didn’t want to ruin your day. I should have called!


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