Analysis Of A Grief Observed

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Occasions of grief, loss, death and trauma are profoundly life altering. In memoirs of grief and bereavement, we see this again and again. Often memoirs of grief do little to paint an intimate portrait of the person who has died rather, the focus is generally centred on the perspective of the narrator. Invariably memoirs provide an account of the profound way grief alters their perception and experience of life after. They capture the psychosocial transition and identity crisis of grief, the disequilibrium triggered by incomprehensible and senseless loss of life and the immense change that ultimately comes to pass when navigating unchartered waters of bereavement.
A familiar response to the death of a person the bereaved was close to is to
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Intimately experiencing loss through the death of a loved one, challenges close held beliefs about existence by forcing a confrontation with one’s own mortality. A Grief Observed (1961) where prominent author and academic C.S. Lewis endures a devastating crisis of faith, contains evidence supporting Marris’s comment that the central crisis of grief is a loss of self. C.S. Lewis experiences a tumultuous struggle to reconcile his spiritual beliefs with the senseless loss of life and seeming cruelty of his wife’s death. Overcome with grief, he flirts with blasphemy, naming his once beloved and trusted god ‘Cosmic Sadist’, ‘spiteful imbecile’ (p. 27) and ‘Eternal Vivisector’ (p. 34). In his memoir of the ordeal C.S. Lewis writes: “Death only reveals the vacuity that was already there” (1961, p. 25). Grief leaves C.S. Lewis stricken with doubt and questioning his fundamental beliefs. He calls out his less than steadfast faith as being fragile as a house of cards. Along with the loss of his wife, C.S. Lewis also lost himself, throwing his very identity as a man of unshakable faith, into…show more content…
Consequently, when a relationship is severed by death the feeling can be that the survivor’s identity has been sabotaged. Geiger captures the subsequent identity crisis of death in her memoir The Thin Time: when my husband died it was as if I also died. Over the 30 years we had been married my identity had become so interwoven with his that I hardly knew where he ended and I began. My own death, I thought, was perhaps the price I had to pay for deeply loving another — a suttee of the self on his funeral pyre. All the safety and security, all the sense of common purpose, meaning, and identity vanished. (2012, p. 2).
Hence, the story of grief memoirs often observes a drive to reconstruct an identity that has been profoundly shattered by loss. As Fowler identifies, “the grief memoirist… seeks to make sense of the loss and to compose a new post-loss identity while recovering at least part of the former self” (2007, p. 529). Transformation, arising from grief is central to memoirs of loss in the restructuring of identity that occurs as the bereaved adjust to an unfamiliar new world. In the words of Bray, it is “the human potential for growth in the struggle though loss” (2013, p. 890) that is explored most frequently in grief
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