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A study of grief by C.S. Lewis, published pseudonymously (as. N.W. Clerk) in 1961 after the lingering death from cancer of his wife, Joy Gresham. The author's identity was revealed after his own death in 1963.

It is in the form of four sections, which the author says are four manuscript notebooks lying around the house; when he's finished the fourth, some weeks after the event, he has worked through enough and resolves not to buy notebooks for the purpose. I don't know whether it was edited or fictionalized to any extent, beyond suppressing names -- Joy is referred to as "H." --, and it could well have been his verbatim record of his own feelings at the time.

He begins with the yawning mental emptiness and pain of grief ("No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."), and his acute sense of missing her, her presence, her humour, her no-nonsense character, her sharp mind: and goes through all the possible doubts, not about whether God exists, but about what is far worse for him, what sort of being God might be to allow the pain. His own suffering he can set down as a trial; that of H. is far harder to comprehend.

His feelings do change over the course of this small book; they became duller, a bit more accepting, a bit more able to cope with the everyday. He doesn't reject God, but nor does it all fall into place and make sense.

As with all C.S. Lewis, I feel there is something wrong with it, something insincere or rather studied. I don't mean phony, I mean that as he himself would say (best exemplified in his poem "As the Ruin Falls") he didn't know how to be sincere, to come out of himself and reach out. His love with Joy Gresham certainly was a miraculous and true love, and A Grief Observed is an accurate observation. But one of his points is that even when you most need a resolution (God, in his case), you have no guarantee it will be there. Not in the way you wanted, anyway.

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