Life and Death
In this quote from C.S. Lewis' theological fantasy, The Great Divorce, we see a comparison between the attitudes of a woman who cannot accept that her dead son has gone to a better place. She ruins her life and harms her family by her lack of faith. Here, she is chastised by the “Bright Spirit”, the spirit of her dead brother.
A Ghost argues with the Bright Spirit who was her brother Reginald:
‘It’s a lie. A wicked, cruel lie. How could anyone love their son more than I did? Haven’t I lived only for his memory all these years?’
‘That was rather a mistake, Pam. In your heart of hearts you know it was.’
‘What was a mistake?’
‘All that ten years’ ritual of grief. Keeping his room exactly as he’d left it; keeping anniversaries; refusing to leave that house though Dick and Muriel were both wretched there.’
‘Of course they didn’t care. I know that. I soon learned to expect no real sympathy from them.’
‘You’re wrong. No man ever felt his son’s death more than Dick. Not many girls loved their brothers better than Muriel. It wasn’t against Michael they revolted: it was against you—against having their whole life dominated by the tyranny of the past: and not really even Michael’s past, but your past.’
‘You are heartless. Everyone is heartless. The past was all I had.’
‘It was all you chose to have. It was the wrong way to deal with a sorrow. It was Egyptian—like embalming a dead body.’
‘Oh, of course. I’m wrong. Everything I say or do is wrong, according to you.’
‘But of course!’ said the Spirit, shining with love and mirth so that my eyes were dazzled. ‘That’s what we all find when we reach this country. We’ve all been wrong! That’s the great joke. There’s no need to go on pretending one was right! After that we begin living.’
Lord God, let me accept that death is ultimately not to be feared, for we will pass on to a better place, through the grace of Christ. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer