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A Grief Observed (1961)

by C. S. Lewis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,081891,012 (4.18)105
Written after his wife's tragic death as a way of surviving the "mad midnight moments," "A grief observed" is C. S. Lewis's honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This work contains his concise, genuine reflections on that period: "Nothing will shake a man, or at any rate a man like me, out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself." This is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe and how he can gradually regain his bearings.… (more)
Recently added bydlbkcmo, RanaTheFox, bryanburge, jhodar, CVUMC, bahospice, rrfranks, private library, mountain_, FrenchStuart
Legacy LibrariesGillian Rose, C. S. Lewis
  1. 10
    Levels of Life by Julian Barnes (KayCliff)
  2. 00
    The Initials in the Heart by Laurence Whistler (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both authors write of their grief at the death of their wives.
  3. 01
    When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön (ssiegel)
  4. 01
    Widower's House by John Bayley (KayCliff)
  5. 02
    Breathtaking by Amber Nicole Metz (sundancer)
    sundancer: Breathtaking is a modern day version of A Grief Observed, written by a young woman of faith who planned her own funeral before she had graduated college.
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» See also 105 mentions

English (88)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (89)
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
A gem that I am sure to revisit. I am grateful for Lewis’ capacity to write so vividly of his experience of loss even in the midst of it. It makes the rest of us feel less alone. ( )
  jcoleman3307 | Oct 7, 2021 |
My mind is blown. From the sucker punch that is that first paragraph to the exit as we begin to see light in the tunnel.

Of course.

I loved this book and was absolutely enthralled by it. I read it for a college class on escaping romance addiction and finding real love (aka charity) for other people and using that to build relationships versus the flimsy flirty stuff. This book is another MUST READ for anyone who thinks they're in love. Not that you aren't, just that you should double check. Would it cause this sort of pain should it depart from your life?

Review #2: Still love it, but live in fear of traversing this same path. Thank heavens for what I know.

Review #3
Recommended this book to a friend and picked it up again. It doesn't seem so terrible now. Just the natural part of grief and doubt that must be traversed in a certain period. Still love it.

Review #4
Good food for thought. Always keep coming back to it--a masterpiece. Somewhat therapeutic in #covid19 days. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
Reading this was like looking in a mirror... ( )
  ThomB51 | Jul 13, 2021 |
It feels weird assigning a star rating to the ostensibly private thoughts of a man going through a traumatic loss. It was a little disappointing (spoilers) that part of the resolution involves an encounter with his wife’s disembodied intellect, and he sees fit to dismiss certain difficult questions as merely absurd, but Lewis’s conception of God as loving you so much it hurts has always been compelling to me. He presents a number of striking, counterintuitive ideas, and takes issue with some of the namby-pamby religious stuff you hear in the mainstream. Plus, this isn’t so much a theodicy as a meditation on the application of an idea. His thoughts about pain are pretty raw. I found myself reacting emotionally to what I was reading more than once. I’m glad to have read it. ( )
1 vote exhypothesi | Mar 7, 2021 |
This slim volume is Lewis's writings after the death of his wife. It is honest and heartfelt and wrestles with the impossible of question of how there can be a good God in the face of great suffering.

It doesn't come up with many answers, and the ones it comes up with are not all comforting (is God deliberately torturing us for our own sakes, a cosmic dentist?) but it is a book that takes the dark thoughts of grief and reminds you that you are not alone, and this too will pass.

It ends with Lewis getting a strong sensation of his dead wife's presence, an intimacy strangely without emotion. ( )
  atreic | Feb 9, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lewis, C. S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cosham, RalphNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gresham, Douglas H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
L'Engle, MadeleineForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nils-Øivind HaagensenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.
Quotations
Did you ever know, how much you took away with you when you left?
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.
It’s not true that I’m always thinking of it… but the times when I’m not are perhaps my worst. For them, though I have forgotten the reason, there is a spread over everything, a vague sense of wrongness, of something amiss… What’s wrong with the world to make it so flat, shabby, worn-out looking: then I remember.
Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time. Empty successiveness.
What do people mean when they say, `I am not afraid of God because I know He is good?'  Have they never even been to a dentist?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Originally published under the pseudonym N. W. Clerk.
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Written after his wife's tragic death as a way of surviving the "mad midnight moments," "A grief observed" is C. S. Lewis's honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This work contains his concise, genuine reflections on that period: "Nothing will shake a man, or at any rate a man like me, out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself." This is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe and how he can gradually regain his bearings.

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