A Grief Observed

January 9, 2014

My sister in law gave me A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis.  In the past I've never connected much with is writing (he is too smart) but I read this entire book in one sitting.  He wrote it after losing his wife to cancer.  I could relate to so many things. 

1.  "No one ever told me grief is like fear; Perhaps more strictly, like suspense.  Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen."

I love this.  Grief, at this level, is very, very similar to fear.  I'm waiting for peace.  I'm waiting for healing.  I'm waiting for baby.

2.  "There is sort of an invisible blanket between the world and me."
When I'm out in public, I often feel this way.  The world sees me, but they have no clue that I kissed my dead son on the forehead 7 weeks ago.

3. "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 graitutde 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 in vain, and what do you find?  A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside.  Then after that, silence."

I'm a Christian, I have been, and always will be.  But that doesn't mean that I can't question my faith.  The ugly parts that don't make sense here.  After our cries for help, our begging for a miracle, the thousands of friends, family, bloggers praying-when they broke Jude's water all I could hear was the nasty sound of  a door slamming and bolting and double bolting on the inside and then awful awful silence.

4.  "I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief."
This is true too.  I realize, tomorrow and the next day and the next day, grief will be near.  Sadness.  His face. The kicks.  The loose skin on my stomach.  The look in my husband's eyes when I cry again about the same thing.

5.  "What chokes every prayer and every hope is the memory of all the prayers H. and I offered and  all the false hopes we had.  Not hopes merely raised merely by our own wishful thinking, hopes encouraged, even forced upon us, by false diagnoses, by Xray photographs, by strange remissions, by one temporary recovery that may have ranked as a miracle.  Step by step we were 'led up the garden path.' Time after time, when He seemed most gracious He was really preparing the next torture."

Even CS Lewis admits later that this was a "yell" at God.  I really appreciate the honestly of his emotions because it means he is human.  I couldn't relate more with this statement and I am human too.  It is so hard for me to "pray"-it truly does get choked up.  From the initial early water breaking and me not going into labor till a week later (big false hope), to my body stopping in labor once I delivered Brinly, to the doctors saying things are looking good, to the cerclage, to when Dad cried out for a miracle and the Dr. came back in saying there was no infection in Jude's water, to hoping/praying the left over placenta was infected.  In all honestly, I truly thought Jude would make it-I thought God would be gracious-I believed it. While I don't truly believe "he was planning the next torture" it really really felt that way.  The truth that the false hopes were not hopes still feels like salt on a wound.

6.  "What grounds has it given me in doubting all that I believe?  I knew already that these things, and worse, happened daily. I would have said that I had taken them into account.  I had been warned--I had warned myself-not to reckon on worldly happiness.  We were even promised sufferings.  The were part of the programme.  We were told 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accepted it.  Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not in imagination."  "the faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination.  The taking them into account was not real sympathy.  If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came."

Wow.  If I would have read this book (I would have been bored) when life was "good" I wouldn't have really gotten it either.  It's true.  We live in a world where we know of suffering and feel bad for it and have "sympathy" until it happens to YOU and like he says, its real and not imagined, it's surreal.  We hear horrible news all the time on tv, about people in other countries, war, famine, natural disaster, but then BAM, it's you?  You are the victim?  The sorrow floods in.

7.  "But suppose who you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good...The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting.  If he yield to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.  But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us?  Well, take your choice.  The tortures occur.  If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one.  If there is a good one, the these tortures are necessary." 

Although I have way more questions than answers, at this point much more sorrow than joy and deeper fear than hope, I chose the later option-there is a good one-a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. 


  1. Our pastor gave a really good talk about this subject. When confronted with the "why does God let bad things happen?" our pastor literally stomped his foot and said "I DON'T KNOW!" with much frustration!! I truly believe that when we get to Heaven and meet our children, we will realize that they had the advantage of getting to Heaven so fast while we struggled to live as humans. It's tough, it sucks, its NOT FAIR! But I focus on living a life as Jesus taught us and know that in the end, my questions of WHY?? will finally be answered.

  2. I needed to hear this today. thank you for continuing to inspire me. even if you don't want to.

  3. Wow..such honest words for C.S. Lewis and from you. I pray for you every time I hear that song on the radio, "say something."

  4. I love C. S. Lewis. Please know that we (a lot of us) are still thinking of you and Darren, and willing you strength to get through each day. Sometimes, I'm sure you feel like the rest of the world has forgotten your pain and moved on. Not true. Hug.

  5. I can relate to all of this. I remember the 'blanket' well. For months I felt like there was this barrier around me that locked in my pain and prevented others from realizing what they were really looking at. A mother without children. I'm always thinking of you and wish I could lessen your grief. But grief is also love and your babe deserves all the love in the world.

  6. Thank you for sharing. I should get this book.
    The ups and downs of hope and more bad news are tough, but I'm not sure I'd want to trade it for "instant despair". I don't know about you, of course, but I think a bit of a respite, if short-lived, was good for us. This may not make a lot of sense, but I think that if they'd been born immediately after my waters broke I would feel even more out of control.
    Thinking of you, and believing in a good God along with you.

  7. I don't have words that will make this better. I don't know the answers to all the whys. And I am certainly far from understanding why God allows some of His children to go through terrible times of grief like you and Darren. What I do know is that you are right - He is a loving, good - intentioned God. It's perfectly ok for you to question Him during times like these. But I'm glad to hear that you aren't giving up on Him. Because He'll never give up on you. Still thinking about you Holly. The world may not see past the blanket, but we're here. We know what you've been through. You are not forgotten. Your grief and pain are not forgotten. And your babies are NOT forgotten.

  8. I continue to pray for you and your husband everyday. We have not forgotten. You are amazing.

  9. Holly…I read but haven't been commenting much. Mostly because I can't find the words that can even come close to soothing your pain and grief. Just know that you're in my thoughts and I'm praying for your peace, healing and understanding through all of this.

  10. Holly, I just wanted to let you know that I have been thinking of you so much in the past few months. What you are dealing with is so painful and so unfair. I'm happy to hear you are planning to try again and understand why that must be so frightening. I will be following along and praying for your happy ending. I will never forget your beautiful tribute video to your sweet twins. Anyways, sending you love and hope for the future. Ali

  11. I'm glad that this book was able to speak to you and provide some insight on such a tragic situation. I've continued to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  12. I lost a son, stillborn (1998) and my life partner (2012). Even though the years pass the underlying sadness persists. I read A Grief Observed and his anger towards God is understandable. How he becomes so introverted and finds so little pleasure in life, is the part I relate to most.


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