Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grief Books (copy)

I consider my grandmother’s act heroic; unfortunately, I remain stoic. A week ago a doctor told Granny Smith that her heart was irreparable even though her pacemaker could go another 10 years. He continued with his realistic diagnosis, “Get your house in order.” Her house being quite orderly she took matters into her own hands and stopped eating. Saturday I kissed her goodbye and Sunday she passed.

Grief is something everyone experiences. Sometimes it is like mine, puzzling. Other times it is bone aching where life loses all color. What type of books does one read when the world means nothing? Obviously, we turn to the Bible in times of need, but what else is out there?

I suggest two books by notable authors. The first book I recommend is A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis. His world lost color the day his wife died of cancer. Lewis went from a guy who felt he knew it all to someone who had no answers. His search is with God and with his own reactions such as his paragraph on depression.

“And no one ever told me about the laziness of grief. Except at my job—where the machine seems to run on much as usual—I loathe the slightest effort. Not only writing but even reading a letter is too much. Even shaving. What does it matter now whether my cheek is rough or smooth? They say an unhappy man wants distraction—something to take him out of himself. Only as a dog-tired man wants an extra blanket on a cold night; he’d rather lie there shivering than get up and find one. It’s easy to see why the lonely become untidy, finally, dirty and disgusting.”

Second book I suggest is Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking. A book that grabs grief by the neck, strangles it, and then tries to discern why. Her year of madness began when husband died suddenly of a heart attack. A devoted spouse that edited her writing, finished her sentences, completed her in every way was gone overnight. She believed, even after a year had past that he would magically appear.

Why would I suggest two great writers for the recently bereaved? Both write to understand. Both share their daily thoughts however inappropriate they may feel them to be. Their words help because they are honest and insightful.

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