I was in tears when I completed reading a book about grief today. I don’t know why. Maybe because I believe that the author, the late C.S. Lewis, came to terms with the death of his wife in 1960 and with his standing with God. It is a road I am traveling after the recent death of my wife.
Lewis, a British novelist best known for his fantasy world of Narnia, identified grief as his adversary after his wife’s death in “A Grief Observed,” a 72-page book published in 1961. He described in detail how he dealt with his wife’s decline during a battle with cancer in his role as a husband and later as a widower and as an evangelist.
He questioned the temporal and eternal relationships common to most men (if not also to women) who genuinely love the person to whom they are married.
Like Lewis, I devoted several years caring for my wife as she battled deteriorating health that ended with three months of hospice care. I may have grieved during that time and later but in a different manner than Lewis.
We were aware that Lou was leaving me, and we treated those final years with as much love and grace as we had while falling in love, rearing a family and pursuing careers. God was always a partner in this undertaking. We also believed that Lou would be “in loving and caring” hands when she departed.
During the month after Lou’s death, I was busy 24-7 dealing with legal matters and with moving to a smaller apartment in downtown Eugene to be near activities that would occupy my mind and my time.
Then I realized that I was not consumed by grief. I was lonely. I also was reminded that life can be more meaningful when it is a shared experience. So, I turned to God for help and was led into a confusing, frustrating but lovely dilemma about how to deal with this challenge.
That chapter of my life is being written. I may not be successful in finding another person who wants to join me in this experience called life, love, even marriage, but I found a friend and I am no longer lonely. Meanwhile, I am an optimist, a believer that love eventually conquers all — in this world and in the next.
Based on the reading of this book, I believe that Lewis came to terms with what he referred to as grief for his late wife and with how it impacted his relationship with God.
Why else would he conclude this book by quoting Dante: poi si tornò all’eterna fontana, which means in translation: “Then unto the eternal fountain she turned”? By this he meant that his late wife turns unto God, the eternal fountain of life and grace. By that admission Lewis suggested that he, too, had reconfirmed his dependance on the grace and love of God.
Reason enough to cry tears of joy.