Book Review :: A Grief Observed

The Title of the BookA Grief Observed

by C. S. Lewis (Harper and Row, Publishers, 1961)

Inside the Pages

“A Grief Observed” is C. S. Lewis’s compilation of journals he wrote soon after the death of his wife, Joy Davidman. Through his journal he writes of his process of sorrow (71).

Worth Repeating

“Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask – half our great theological and metaphysical problems – are like that.” (81-82)

“I know the two great commandments, and I’d better get on with them. ” (82)

“To see, in some measure, like God. His love and His knowledge are not distinct from one another, nor from Him. We could almost say He sees because He loves, and therefore love although He sees.” (84)

“We cannot understand [the resurrection from the body; everything about life]. The best is probably what we understand least.” (88)

From My Perspective

This book is a short, grand work of art. I cannot personally relate yet with the reality of a spouse’s death, yet at the same time death is the reality that connects us all. I am not sure how someone who had lost their spouse could stand to read this manuscript – the reality of all of their sorrow in words must hit hard in the face like a sideways, torrential downpour.

I think whoever the reader is, he must come away from this book  a bit emotionally disconnected. It is difficult to look pain in her face and know and experience the sorrowful reality. The reader may leave shaking his head, thinking to himself, well, that is Lewis’s reality, not mine. However, death is everyone’s reality.

For abundant and fruitful life, for the eternal life, Lewis concludes that it all culminates in peace with God through Jesus Christ and the understanding that The Two Great Commands is where Real Reality lies.

God who is Reality speaks and writes this throughout the Word:

Deuternomy 6:4-5 declares, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.”

In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus proclaims, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

In Mark 12: 29-31, Jesus answers, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

John records in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

So until death, let’s get on with living the two great commands.

* all scripture from English Standard Version (ESV) Bible –

2 thoughts on “Book Review :: A Grief Observed

  1. i read this book the summer after my uncle died to help ‘connect’ with my aunt. Lewis is such a master of language. I felt like I was grieving Joy along with him. Have you read his “Problem with Pain” yet? I was wondering how the two compared.

    Reading it is on my to-do list…one day. ah. 🙂

    1. I have not yet – right now I am reading “Surprised by Joy” and “The Four Loves” as well as finishing up the Chronicles. I think after these three are finished, I will move on to another author. I get so attached and fixated with one author and I try to read everything the author has written, but then, usually before I get through it all, I cannot take any more – I need diversity! So, my next book list is diverse in its authors and genres. One day I do want to read “The Problem of Pain.” I hope you are doing well – and just take it one book, one page, at a time!

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