In recent weeks, my community has been mourning the loss of a much-loved and respected man. His passing has left those who knew him, and many more who had just heard of his legendary exploits, reeling that someone so vibrant, so adventurous, and so kind, could be gone.
Of course, most of us have lost loved ones, and if you live long enough, the experience stacks up. Frequency doesn’t make it any easier and each loss is newly felt. A bit like love that way.
Grief, is a process, I know, but there is a cruelty to it as it ambushes you anew over and over. We struggle to comprehend what the loss means, how to process our emotions, and how to express our response. Life is just damn hard sometimes.
Far better writers than me have wrestled with these questions. Their extraordinary ability to describe the pain of loss may offer a shaft of light beyond the darkness. . C.S. Lewis expressed his feelings in ‘A Grief Observed’.
Lewis is a comfort to many readers because his grief after the death of his wife, Joy Davidman, whom he met relatively late in life, is expressed in raw, unfiltered but eloquent ways. He eventually comes to acceptance, seeing bereavement as another stage of love. This is one of Lewis’s last works, published in 1961; he died two years later.
I recently described it to a friend as what happens when all of C.S. Lewis’s marvelous intellectual ideas “collide with reality.” The grief. The pain. The healing. Grief over the death of a partner, or god forbid, a child, must be an unfathomable pain, but loss is not a competition, and it is as individual as a fingerprint.
As Lewis wrote and has been quoted umpteen times, “Grief is the price we pay for love”.
I would add that it is also the price we pay for life. To be alive, truly alive, is to allow ourselves all the extraordinary joys that life offers, but always moving stealthily alongside us, the pain and grief of loss. The two are inextricably linked.
The day after we formally said goodbye to this wonderful man, I helped celebrate a good friend's birthday. The afternoon was filled with great music and beautiful friends. I danced and danced and danced, remembering this too is what life is about.
I hope you seize the joy, my friends, and remember, spring is just around the corner.
In the meantime, happy reading.