A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waving the question. Like, ‘Peace, child: you don’t understand.’

In June, my grandfather was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer. In August, he died. We all knew the diagnosis, we all heard the test results and saw my grandfather wasting away. Even with that knowledge, there’s something unholy about the fact that eight weeks took my family from home to hospital to hospice.

Grief is a strange and foreign thing. You can share the griefs of the people you love, but ultimately you face grief on your own. You face grief in the quiet moments before bed and in the noisy moments in a crowd. You face grief in the car and at school and at work and while walking the dog. If there are five stages of grief, they are recursive. Acceptance one minute, depression the next.

While reading Lewis’s book, I found the assurance that while I may be alone in my grief, I am not alone in experiencing grief. His book wrestles with the exact questions I had. He fights through despair and hopelessness and emptiness to find God. His book is not a book of advice or steps to recovery. It is the journal of a man who was deeply desperate for comfort. In reading through his struggles, I see myself.

It’s as if you are trapped on a desert island. All you can see around you is the vast ocean and the tiny dots of other islands on the horizon. You are too far to call or swim or reach out for help. The waves are rough and you know sharks wait for you in the water. Night falls, and you do the best you can to keep warm. You light a fire to keep back the shadows. You stand while the fire warms your back, and you look up at the stars and out at the void. In the distance you see a pinpoint of light on a far island. Soon all of the islands are dancing stars over the ocean. There are watch fires all around you. You are alone, but you are not the only one.

Keep reading, friends.

Sarah

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