My dear friend Richard’s wife, Ann Ruffin, passed away a couple of days ago. We all knew it was coming. Her terminal illness had been prolonged by Richard’s total commitment to her well-being. He had told me that being her primary caregiver was his mission in life.
In this time of mourning, part of me wants to reach out to my friend, to seek to help in this time of loss. Yet, another part of me tells myself, “What can you do? Richard is 86 years old. What can you do for him that he can’t already do for himself?”
Then the voice inside says, “Sometimes, all someone needs is just another person to be in the room with them, silent, but aware, saying nothing at all.”
When C.S. Lewis was grieving the loss of his wife, whom he called H., he wrote these lines, “At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.”
From those last few words, “If only they would talk to one another and not to me,” my feeling of wanting to go sit and be with my friend, saying no words, just being in his presence, impress upon my thoughts.
Likewise, we often misunderstand the Holy Spirit. As Lewis wrote in another article, “The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise, when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.”
God knows infinitely more than we will ever begin to understand. “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.” So it is that when he sends the Comforter to us, it will be in ways and in our presence that we comprehend the least. It will be like a silent friend sitting with you in a room with the air as still as a morgue. The only evidence of life is the faint sound of the wall clock ticking in the next room. Time passing, as we too shall someday.
If we genuinely seek to be like God, to walk with Christ, then we too shall understand how sometimes fewer words, or no words, speak volumes more than some of the greatest speeches presented in all of humanity. Our nature is to seek the companionship of others. Mistakenly, we sometimes think we have to spew empty clichés when wanting to console our friends and loved ones in their time of loss. But we are only speaking the reflection of our own empathetic prose. When we find ourselves alone without another being in our presence, it is then, in this void of humanness, that we find we are truly not alone. If we believe in God and know Him, we find that we need others less. Yet, we also find that when other believers are with us, His presence increases. Does Jesus not say in scripture, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them?”
As C.S. Lewis wrote in the grasp of his grieving, he was shaken to his core because of the loss of his dear H. Through his words, we can find a Christian in pain, seeking consolation. Howbeit he, Lewis, being an intellect, it must have been evident to him, either then or later in life, how much more he needed God’s comforting hands upon him. We can read how he sought others in those lines of text, yet he didn’t want their words, only their bodily presence. In this light, we can feel how Lewis, either knowingly or unknowingly, craved the Holy Spirit to come into his life. Yet, there is a part of me that says he might not have fully comprehended the complexity to which his grief had confounded his thoughts, to the point, he sought that which had gone, but in truth, was only passed from this life to the next.
We are but vapors in this life, here for a moment. We will someday spend the rest of this life in eternity. Where we spend it is up to us. When a loved one passes on, if we know of their faith in Christ, if they had received the gift of salvation by the Grace of God, we can then be more than assured, yes, we can be sure that they are there in the presence of the Lord and the host of angels waiting for the day when we arrive.
Pray for my dear friend and his family in their time of loss, but let us also praise God for bringing home another daughter in Christ.
In all these ways, let us say, “Thanks be to God.”
 A Grief Observed. Copyright © 1961 by N. W. Clerk, restored 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Preface by Douglas H. Gresham copyright © 1994 by Douglas H. Gresham. All rights reserved.
 The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.
 John 14:16 KJV
 Matthew 18:20 KJV