CS Lewis and Grief

I started reading a powerful little book this week, called A Grief Observed, by the brilliant C.S. Lewis.

It’s a collection of his writings after his wife passed away.  Some of them are just stream of consciousness thoughts, others are more organized.  You can tell at times he is questioning, doubting, faithful, angry, confused.  It’s like reading his daily journal entries along the way.  I’ve found it so far to be somewhat helpful.  When someone puts words to an experience it seems to help others.  I’ve had some comments on the blog that our words (Susan and me) have put some flesh on the bones of the experience of both life with cancer and wrestling with death.  In the same way, for some reason it helps to read Lewis’ journey.  I’m not looking for a destination point right now (i.e. the end of my grieving) as much as the comfort of a fellow traveler.  In other words, I don’t need a “10 Steps to Overcoming Grief” book (not sure that exists, btw) as much as I do these more real and honest words.  Of course, maybe someday I’ll want and need the other, but not right now.

One of the things I’m finding difficult right now – and he spurred this thought with some of his words – is the loss of memory.  I didn’t anticipate this.  Not my memory, or memories, of Susan and me, the kids, our life and experiences, etc.  The loss of her memory. The collection of memories that existed only in her mind, things only she knew, things that only we shared.  Places we went, things that happened that we laughed about, words Susan and I said to each other, promises we made, songs we sang, food we ate, and so on.  It’s like when you share a secret with someone.  There is something to that secret-sharing that makes your relationship special, unique.  Sometimes it’s not the thing itself, it’s just that you share something with one other person that no one else knows about.  But if that person is gone…you’re the only one who knows.  And who really likes to keep a secret all to themselves?

The kids and I had dessert at Friendly’s tonight (thanks to a generous person who gave us a gift card!).  It was a little celebration dessert, which I’ll probably tell you more about tomorrow.  And the whole time I’m thinking that I know exactly what Susan would have ordered (the Reese’s hot fudge sundae).  I’m more of a banana split guy.  I know how she would order a burger or a chicken sandwich or a salad.  I know how long it would take her to make a decision off of the menu.  It’s this collection of memories, actions, beliefs, attitudes, tastes, idiosyncrasies…these are gone, the things that made Susan so fun and unique and special.  I’m feeling that loss of the collective memory she and I had.  It makes me wonder how many of the experiences in our lives we consider significant are only significant because of who we have them with.  (Does that make sense?)

Case in point – I have absolutely no desire to watch American Idol this week (or really, any TV, now that I think about it).  It’s because watching it was about Susan and I doing that together.  I’m realizing I don’t really care about Randy and the new judges.  I liked watching because of what it allowed us to share.

(I just re-read this…depressing!  So sorry…)

But I do see her in my three beautiful children.  In so many ways – in their eyes, their laughter, their smiles.  In how smart, funny, and wonderful they each are.  They really are, as so many people have told me, where those things that made Susan who she was, live on.

So I had a Reese’s hot fudge sundae tonight instead, and with each spoonful I thought about how much she would like it.  The kids and I laughed together, had random conversations, they said some amazing things, we missed her, and in a way hopefully we remembered her well tonight.  I pray that I, and we, will honor her well and remember the things that were significant to her along the way.

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7 Responses to “CS Lewis and Grief”

  1. Cammie Howard Says:

    Love you Jerel. Look forward to hearing your celebratory news! You are in my prayers every day.

  2. lisa Nageotte Says:

    Your words are so special, and even though I have never met you, I hope you know that you have touched other people’s lives with your beautiful and heartfelt words. I am so sorry for your pain, and with each day that passes, I hope you are able to feel happiness. You are a special daddy to your children, and obviously a powerful speaker and writer. Keep on sharing your gifts with the world.

  3. Susan Rosenblatt Says:

    Thank you for sharing your stories. Just as C.S. Lewis’ journey he penned years ago is helping you navigate your grief, your words are going to help others as well. Keep remembering…its amazing how those precious memories will help you as you learn a new “normal” without Susan’s physical presence. Contining to pray for you…
    In His Grace,
    Susan

  4. Susan Says:

    Jerel,

    Love that you had a reeces sundae in memory of Susan. After Susan’s service, Bob and I went to one of Susan’s favorite restaurants…Qudoba. Thought about her as we ate and celebrated her.

  5. Mollie Baney Says:

    Jerel,

    I was pointed to your blog by an old high school friend, Chris Conner, who I think knew Susan. I read it from the beginning. I lost my husband, at the age of 49, to cancer four years ago this Jan. 23rd. Susan’s journey was so familiar to me. I just want to say that, in time, it WILL get easier, you’ll laugh more, and tears won’t fall as frequently or as easily. All of that sounds so cliche, but it’s the truth. I haven’t read any books. I’ve just kept my church family and faith very close to me and our daughter. You sound like you’re doing wonderful so far! It will get better. Give it all the time you need. Take care!

  6. Michelle Harrison Says:

    “It makes me wonder how many of the experiences in our lives we consider significant are only significant because of who we have them with. (Does that make sense?)” I love this line…..it makes total sense!!!

  7. scotty Says:

    I too am reading a great book on grieving…A grace disguised, by Jerry Sittser.
    The most profound reading on loss, I have ever read. Everyone needs to have this on his shelf. We are need to understand COMPASSION.

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