Even from France, I try to keep practicing my English.
Last month I read “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. For people like me who don’t know very much about theology, he is the author of “The chronicles of Narnia” (Les mondes de Narnia). But he also wrote different theological books, as he became a Christian during his life. He also loved his wife lately but deeply, until she died of cancer (my good old friend “cancer”).
After he died, he wrote what he felt in notebooks. The first sensations were the symptoms of fear but without being afraid, associated with the feeling that everything is too much to do. Meanwhile he is asking the role of God. Could He be so absent? That is a question I find hard to ask. Who dares to express angriness against God while believing in Him? I never did… Maybe I doubted His being, sometimes.
He inquires into life after death … What’s the life of a dead person? Is it through the remembrance by the living relatives, with the fact that all remembrance can be distorted with time? Is it just an end, with a rotten body in a grave? Is it a very comfortable place near God? Are the dead people as sad as the living ones being separate from each other?
The pain sounds intolerable at the beginning. Eventually it lessens, but remains, as a scar. Progressively, he’s afraid to forget. To forget his love for his wife, to forget the memories. It’s like if she’s dying another time…
But finally there can be a kind of peace in these feelings…
C.S. Lewis says it’s about him, his wife and God, in that order …
This book made me remember my classes about the end of life in Medical School. They taught us the 5 stages of grief by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (the denial, the anger, the bargaining, the depression and eventually the acceptance). But nobody told us anything about faith during the grief process.
Because I live in France, because we have the “laïcité”, we barely talk about religion in the public space. And as a Doctor with my white gown, I never bring faith up for discussion … And I think that it’s something I missed when I worked regularly with dying people.
Who cares about Doctors grieving their patients? How do the other doctors deal with the loss of their patients? If anybody knows, tell me.
Many stages of my life began with a grief of someone or something. Understanding doesn’t make it easier, but I guess that for my next loss, I’ll go back to C.S. Lewis. Because he shares something very important that all of us will unfortunately experience one day… And sharing is so important to get better. That’s why I share with you my reading, and that’s why I would be happy for you to share your comments.