The loss of a beloved is an amputation.”
C. S. Lewis, himself a veteran of World War II, penned the sentence above. Note that he wrote a metaphor, a word from the Latin meaning “to transfer.” He moved a wartime visual to the heart of anyone suffering grief. Since the Office of Medical History – Army estimated that approximately 17,000 people survived as major amputees from WWII, Lewis’ brief sentence struck the dissonant chord in his first readers.
The first time I read Lewis’ A Grief Observed I felt the double-edged sword of authenticity and faithlessness. The Oxford don smote his heart in the visceral anguish of his soul. But some of his accusatory thoughts toward God caught this idealistic college freshman broadside!
I gained greater understanding, not to mention empathy for Lewis, as our family buried my beloved father just before my 30th birthday. Ice and snow made the grave site treacherous, but my strong mother stood military straight. My pregnancy at that time was touch and go, but this stubborn redhead exited the car at the cemetery. Dave stood on my left, my brother Ken, Mom and Ken’s wife on my right, and my cousin Bob directly behind me. Tears froze down our faces; the ache pierced our hearts. In December of 1988, we again returned to New York to lay my mother’s body next to dad. Daddy met one of what would be six grandsons.Mom at least met all six .
Amputees can get prosthetics, work tenaciously in rehab, and learn to function amazingly well. And by God’s grace, given time, supportive friends and family, professionals, and the biblical truths of eternal life, we too, despite the amputation, learn to live again. The struggle requires times of effort, rest, support and repetition. We press play on as Paul says because we know of a coming reunion where there will be no more pain, suffering or tears. Let theses truths allow us to hope and to live productively again.