It occurred to me last night that perhaps Lewis's A Grief Observed would help. Of course, I couldn't find it. So I went to Amazon and extracted the following quotes, which seem to me to reflect the universal experience of anguish in grief. Your mileage may, of course, differ, particularly if your experience is one more of observation than immersion. Many of the Amazon reviews note that the tone of A Grief Observed, written in the aftermath of the death of Lewis's beloved wife, differs considerably from the detached, scholarly (and, one might say, clueless) tone of his much earlier The Problem of Pain.
"Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand."
My version? Dozens, maybe hundreds, of the cards and emails I have received have assured me of the comfort God provides. In the past few days I have found some relief in opening cards from two friends in which they tell me how long the cards have rested on their kitchen windowsills as they have stared at them, wondering what to say, until finally they concluded that there is nothing at all to say beyond the much longed-for "We are here." (Of course, I accept all the other mail in the same vein. We are all doing the best that we can.)
"Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy . . . if you remember yourself and turn to [God] with gratitude and praise, you will be - or so it seems - welcomed with open arms. But go to [God] when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you feel? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside . . . ".
My version, as expressed to my spiritual director, was far less eloquent and a good deal more profane.
"The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'"
There is, of course, more. But I am only on the threshold of this journey.