When I read A Grief Observed a few months after my husband Vic’s death, C.S. Lewis became a guide and a friend. Instead of telling me how to escape the dark land of grief, he explored and mapped the landscape there. I absorbed his descriptions of the threshold world of fresh sorrow: not quite here or there or anywhere. He wrote to survive the “mad midnight moment” of losing his wife. He wrote to survive having his faith shaken to the core.
You felt like this, too? I thought I was the only one.
Lewis wanted to be with friends if they spoke to each other but not to him. He published his book with a pseudonym to protect his privacy and approached grief with curiosity and a deep longing to understand. I wonder if he remained in the valley of grief until his life ended in a heart attack three years after his wife’s death. He didn’t have much time to start over, and he was ill.
You, too? You’re still in the land of starting over? You still feel shock waves often or sometimes?
It’s hard for me to imagine getting over it. Why would I push away this connection? Why try to forget when remembering brings me close to lost love? I want to feel them and the Great Mystery I touched when I stood with them just this side of death.
You, too? Can you imagine forgetting? My mother expressed deep grief forty years after Dad’s death. She’d had a rich life, a new marriage, and many adventures, but her heart remembered, even as she sank into senility.
I have a new life based on the strong foundation of the old one. My roommate is a dog. She celebrates each walk and swim. She loves every visitor. She pulls me outside to admire butterflies and flowers, bees and sunsets. I’m finding joy again.
You, too? Are you comforted by a dog, cat, or bird? Or flowers? Or something in Nature? I had my first experience of dog therapy when I was a teenager and my buddy Amigo pressed his warm little body against mine after my dad died.
Nature is a teacher, too. The Monarchs and Swallowtails flit and float and lay eggs for new life. Then, in a blink, they’re gone. A few years ago there were no Monarchs. I was sure they were gone forever. Each one I see this year carries hope.
Do you notice you’ve gained a new strength through your experience of loss? Have you noticed love remains?
Ah, you, too.
What books helped you? Do other things help you manage loss? Do you feel a mix of resilience and fragility in grief and do you let that in? For other articles about embracing grief, see A Personal Grief Ritual of Remembrance and Relief and Planting Joy in a Season of Sorrow.