Q. As I wrote in my review, “If you’ve been through the loss of someone dear, Wish You Were Here will just make sense….Your’re fine, and then you’re not. You’re overwhelmed with sadness, and then you have hope. You cling to your faith, but you have doubts and questions and what-ifs.” Did you realize how much you were writing for so many other people when you wrote about your own experience of grief?
A. I didn't realize, but I hoped I was. That was the only reason to write it: to help other people. I don't mean that to be pretentious. It's just true. I was helped by other people's writing about their own experiences - everyone from the well-known like C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed) and Kathleen Norris (Acedie) to simply bloggers sharing their own experiences of grief - that I hoped I could contribute a helpful voice to that never-ending conversation.
Q. I wrote down so many quotes from the book it slowed me down! Your writing is so “quotable” and looks effortless. Do you find writing easy, or is it a hard process for you?
A. Thank you. It's both. Journaling is effortless, but shaping it is far more difficult. But I actually enjoy the editing process quite a bit. That is when the real writing actually happens.
Q. Very recently, you lost your father as well. Do you mind if I ask if this grieving is different, or if it is hard to be discussing this book when going through another loss?
A. It's a different experience, to be sure. My father was older and quite ill - and had beaten a lot of odds to even get to the point that he was. But the other thing - and this is quite important - is that Mike's death really changed me and my own stance toward death. I have really committed myself to living what I profess in the Creed every Sunday about life, death and resurrection.
I have written before and will write more at length in the near future about how Michael’s death has body-slammed me into confronting the nature and content of my faith, this faith about which I write and speak, which I have been paid to communicate off and on for a couple of decades now.
There are various dimensions to that challenge. The most obvious is that of mourning loss. Doss the reality of Michael’s physical absence overwhelm my faith in the Resurrection? Am I actually no better than the pagans in my response?
The other dimension is that of the sufficiency of God. As I have written before, in my prayer, which is centered on the prayer of the Church – the Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and then the rosary – I am forced to center my focus, not on my own loss, but on God’s glory, mercy and my hope and trust in him. This is no surprise, intellectually speaking. It was the whole point of an entire book that I wrote – The Words We Pray.But now ideas, theories and intellectually-accepted notions confront cologne, clothes, shoes and Jacksonville Jaguar hats untouched now for almost five weeks. They confront absolute silence in a bedroom in the darkness of night, a silence undisturbed by breathing, shifting presence on the other side of the bed.
God is God…The Lord is my shepherd…is there really nothing else I shall want?