In the past few days I have had to rest. To pass the time I thought I would read some of the books I have always said I would read. But then I came across a book, that for some reason has passed me by I am ashamed to say. We all know of C.S.Lewis but how many of us have read the very personal account of his grief when his beloved wife died? I hadn’t, I hadn’t come across this book ever before, I only wish I had.
It first came out under a pseudonym and it was only disclosed to be his work after his death. I wish I had knowledge of it before. To have used it in my work for grief counselling would have been such a help to my clients. It tells of his feelings, his disbelief and denial when she died, after just a few years of marriage to him. He shows how he is angry, an emotion that many of my clients found difficult to deal with because they felt guilty. He says how this horrible time tested his faith and pushed him to the limits of his beliefs. How he felt his God had deserted him. One of the hardest things for a bereaved person to accept is the finality, Lewis shows how he couldn’t cope with people using sayings such as ‘passed away’, ‘gone on before,’ “She died. She’s dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?”
Throughout the part of this wonderful book that I have read so far, he pours out his feelings even the bad ones, with such emotion, love and desperation that you feel he is in the room talking to you. I wanted to reach out my hand and comfort him.
Grief can be all consuming, I know. We all know. It can change us sometimes forever and sometimes not in a good way. Losing a partner must be the one of the hardest times in one’s life. In a good relationship, you become almost as one. You compliment each other, look after each other and sometimes, as in mine with Daniel, you find yourself finishing each other’s sentences. But what you do need to think about, although it must be hard; is that you have to go on. The person lost would want that, the people left will need that and so you will do that.Lewis talks about not caring if his hands are rough, he will no longer brush them across his loved ones cheek, heartbreaking stuff but so real.
Sometimes grief can take you away from everything you used to know and love but you must bring yourself back and look forward. Easy to say and very hard to do, I know but we must. This will be the time for acceptance and more importantly the time for memories.
Throughout life, in every relationship, child, parent, spouse and friend, we need to make memories. Make times matter. Spend every waking hour enjoying people and feelings. Things don’t really matter. Then if and when you lose someone you love, your memories will bring comfort.
Grief is not only about losing people or pets, sometimes we grieve harder for our animals than we find the way to grieve for people. There are many kinds of bereavement, loss of a job, a favourite home, a relationship that doesn’t work etc. We, in our way grieve and move forward. In the past few years I have known a lot about grief. As I said, sometimes losing a much loved animal can cause such pain that we don’t know how to handle it. A couple of years ago I lost my beloved horse and was heartbroken, I was ready to grieve, with Daniel and Lucy but life got in the way. Trying to help someone took me away from grieving and I lost 6 months of my life to a hoax, losing my self confidence. Then my best friend dying, Lucy losing the baby and then my sister. Lots of loss and so much grief. I am not good at grieving, in the past I have allowed this precious important time to be stolen from me but not any more.A s a Psychotherapist and Counsellor, I know how important this is and for me it is a work in progress.
The other kind of grief is for things you never had or never did. I think of ‘little Cassie’, think of her stolen childhood and am now beginning to grieve for that. For it is the right of every child, a home where she is safe and loved. In the past few weeks, there has been a great deal written on Social Media about the children abused, especially those in Ireland, who now, as adults are seeking justice. How I wish I could have had that. Justice. Most of us never get that but sometimes, just to be heard is enough.
So, yes grief is about death and that is right but there is no wrong grief or no wrong way to grieve. It is personal, private, if allowed to be or wanted. It is a fundamental part of life as death is. We will all suffer it and hopefully all survive it and move on to new chapter.
So, if you get the chance to read A GRIEF OBSERVED by C.S.Lewis, go for it and believe me, you won’t be disappointed.
Enjoy the snow, make memories. Night night .x