Friday, August 5, 2011

The Writings of Lewis

It's hard to blog these days. I don't have much time and often don't know what to say. When I do, it's not worth repeating what the kids and I have experienced that day or week. We've had some very hard days.

How often can one blog about boundless emptiness? We appreciate people consoling us. But their pity, or our seeking it, is not good for the soul.

Obviously, life is very different than it was a few months ago. No one can or ever will replace Dori. Everyone gets that. Most also get it's best just to say something sweet and consoling, listen a little, and then move on to some mundane topic. Most do. A few don't, but no need to rant right now. I've done that with a few friends, and this blog is PG-13.

We're each grieving in different ways. Rather than go into what we're specifically experiencing, I'll share some excerpts I read recently in A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. The book was a gift from the mother of one the kids' friends at school who lost a husband tragically years ago. It was accompanied with a very nice note about her own grieving experience. I brought it on our recent trip to Florida, and I'm glad I did.

Lewis' account of the loss of his wife to cancer is about losing and regaining bearings. In the foreword, Lewis' stepson notes "the greater the love, the greater the grief, and the stronger the faith, the more savagely will Satan storm its fortress." That seized my attention, even before reading the author.

Lewis said, "The act of living is different all through. Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything." OK, he understands.

Then more, "Who thinks there is some device ... that makes pain not pain? It doesn't really matter if you grip the arms of the dentist's chair or let your hands lie in your lap. The drill drills on."

"What grounds has [her death] given me for doubting all that I believe? I knew that these things, and worse, happened daily. ... I had been warned - I had warned myself - not to reckon on worldly happiness. We were even promised sufferings. ... The case is too plain. If my house had collapsed at one blow, that is because it was a house of cards. The faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination.

"[A person] has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover himself."

That's as blunt as it gets. No candyman here. I'll share something personal now. I am still going to church, praying, all those things. But I'm not really praising God very well right now. Singing hymns is especially hard. I shared this with a friend, who said something that made sense: "God knows that, Jim. He knows you're hurting." Give yourself a break.

Back to Lewis, who a little further along in his grief, notes "bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love. ... Then comes the tragic figure of the dance in which we must learn to be still taken out of ourselves though the bodily presence is withdrawn, to love the very Her, and not fall back to loving our past, or our memory, or our sorrow, or our relief from sorrow, or our own love."

Simple writing, deep thinking. I wonder if Lewis felt the first two months of grieving was more like 10 years. It does to me. I'm back at work, and school starts soon. The return of the routine has helped some. Time is the other answer, as hundreds have already shared. If that's the case, maybe someone can make it go faster.


Ann said...

Jim, I think of you and the kids daily.

ChuckEastNashville said...

Jim, I chatted with a neighbor up the street who recently lost her husband. As we talked about her loss, I vaguely referred to your situation: no names, only your situation and ages. Karen thinks she knows you. I am praying and pulling for comfort and peace--in your time of course.

Ronni Gordon said...

Thanks for posting. Your blogosphere friends really want to hear from you. I'm sure it is difficult it is to write, and I appreciate your courage and honesty. I hope it helps somewhat to write down your thoughts. Also thanks for sharing Lewis' words. They will make sense to everyone who has lost someone. I'm sure, also, that you know he came to some of his understanding over a period of time. So (and I know you know this too) don't be hard on yourself and and expect too much at this early stage.

Jenny Sue said...

Honesty helps us to know how to pray for you and the kids. It must be hard to see the rest of the world moving on when you feel as though yours has stopped. Know that you are never far from our hearts and prayers.

PJ said...

Great post, Jim. I think about Dori every time I run and then some. It makes me mad and sad that this has happened. It's hard to believe the pain will ever end, but it does change over time.