“I think for a long time I was writing about home because I was just dreadfully homesick and grieving, but I’ve gone down all these other rabbit holes and found that it’s a much deeper, interconnected problem. And there’s nothing I love more than, like, trying to figure out a really arcane problem, which is why I’m Catholic. And an essayist.

I think most of my writing has been about grief in whatever tangential way. It’s always motivated by longing, whether for my home, or my mother, which are kind of the same for me; it’s a searching for a restoration of that loss. But in the act of writing, that loss is temporarily restored to me. So that is one concrete way that I act out of grief that I think is positive and productive and healing. I also think that just the action of not forgetting, of remembering–Memento Mori–that it’s a productive practice. That when we think remembering the dead and caring for their graves, those are works of mercy for us as Catholics. Those are tangible actions that we’re supposed to engage in. We’re not supposed to deny death and pretend that it doesn’t reshape us and our souls.

We are all of us connected by either guilt or grace. Examining the ways in which everyone that we’ve come into contact with in our lives has had some shaping impact on us, and vice versa, increases our understanding of our responsibility to each other. These relationships are important beyond the temporal. It’s a pretty awesome responsibility.

I’m not willing or able to let go of a relationship as transformative as a relationship between mother and daughter. So for anyone to suggest that is a healthy thing to do, I dispute that. I also have to admit that it’s just not in my nature to do so. So how do I live a productive, Christian life when I can’t let go of that? I have to find a way to frame it in those terms. But I’m not inventing this. It’s all there in church teaching. You just have to dig for it, because we don’t talk about it anymore in Christian publishing.”

Listen to my interview with Elise Lonich for the Beatrice Podcast here.


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