In To Commune with the Ancestors, Elaine McGillicuddy shows us how she has been able to deal with the loss of her husband: by communing or communicating with the extended “community” of goddaughter, dear friends, music, memories captured in her journal and poetry, reminiscences, religious and scientific thinkers, and the reader him or herself, somewhere out there. Her insights are ones we can all use when that time of grief and loneliness comes: “in losing my husband, I found him.”
Daniel C. Bryant MD, author of House Call
Elaine G McGillicuddy’s To Commune with the Ancestors – A Widow Reflects is more than just a cri du Coeur over the void left by a loved one’s death. By affirming the timelessness of unconditional love, it shows how grief can be transformed into gratitude for the goodness of life, opening the door to a new path and love for others. In reaffirming the Christian doctrine of the communion of saints and how the dead can console and empower those left behind, it sheds light on the mystery of God’s love and our mutual inter-dependence. In short, life is changed, but not taken away. This heartfelt book offers a lifeline to those suffering from loss.
James Clarke, author of Stray Devotions
The author has transformed her grief over the death of her husband Francis into wisdom about how to commune with our “lost” loved ones who live on in the communion of saints. She offers helpful guidance on how we can be comforted by those who have died yet remain with us. Her chapter on her goddaughter Rowan is laced with lovely quotes like the name Rowan gave a box of her love notes to Francis: “a rememberal of Pepe.” Read this book and be connected.
Gloria Hutchinson, author of Aiding Our Friends
Among the Dead – Completing Their Songs
Elaine McGillicuddy shares her reflections as a widow ten years after the death of her husband, Francis. They met in 1968 when she as an Ursuline nun, and he as a diocesan priest, were introduced to each other by the principal of a school where she would be teaching, in a parish he would be overseeing.
Elaine speaks of her grief in the context of the communion of saints to bring out the continuing interplay between the living and those who have died. She derives an updated theology from thinkers like Elizabeth Johnson and Ilia Delio, as well as Deepak Chopra and Thich Nhat Hanh. Perhaps the most touching part of her journal are conversations with her young goddaughter, Rowan, reflecting their memories of Francis. In this short but significant book, McGillicuddy helps us question an over-secularized world concerning options for all who grieve and love those who passed.
Eugene C. Bianchi, Emeritus Professor of Religion, Emory University
Whatever our faith or experience tells us about the afterlife we should hold lightly — we just don’t know. But what Elaine McGillicuddy tells us about is not the afterlife — it is about this life. This life in communion — not simply some séance like communication with the dead — but a genuine heartfelt and mindful co-union with loved ones who have died. She specifically refers to her husband Francis, but the exercise of love — and it is an exercise — is conscious, deliberate and motivated by a loving devotion to the deceased. I’m not sure if it would work with a passing acquaintance but with a deeply loved partner, husband, wife, lover — it can and it will. And Elaine makes clear why it should. Simply put, it breaks one out of the cycle of grief that one feels from the loss of such love to death’s other kingdom. It is communion at its best. It takes us from a life that is just bearable to one that is richly and fully lived. Not a how-to book — but an inspirational guide for uniting lovers separated by death’s now penetrable curtain.
Chris Queally, English Chair (Ret) at Thornton Academy
Shakespeare instructor at USM/OLLI