While we grieve, let’s take stock

There is not a person in Mayo today who hasn’t felt the inescapable grief that has come with the recent tragedies in the county.

Over the past few weeks the number of tragedies which have devastated families, communities and friendships in Mayo have been staggering and have certainly given the rest of us, those who haven’t been directly affected but who can certainly sympathise and share in the grief of those most touched, a great sense of perspective.

Reading the reports of Mary Linnane’s funeral would draw a tear to any eye. Mary, a young student nurse with her whole life ahead of her, has left such an irreplaceable hole in her family and community and the world’s of anyone who had the joy of making her acquaintance.

She was enjoying her first holiday abroad with friends when tragedy struck and life for her family and friends will never be the same.

The parents of toddler Luke McHale, Liam and Liz, of Belderrig Mór, Ballina, are in a dark, dark place today as they come to terms with life without little Luke. Luke’s life was cut short when he was involved in a tragic accident involving a quad bike, just three years after he entered the world.

Four children in Drimina, Tourlestrane, Co Sligo are without their father, Padraig Gavaghan, after he was electrocuted in a farmyard over the weekend. Padraig was a native of Killasser, Swinford, and his children and family will grow up cherishing their memories with dad Padraig.

Colm Kenny from Ballycastle died a few weeks ago when he was assaulted in Brisbane, Australia. Colm was a keen footballer and a popular fellow.

Another infant, two and a half year old Mark Molloy from Glencorrib, Shrule, will forever be remembered with fondness and immense love by his parents following his tragic passing in a farmyard accident.

One of Mayo’s most popular photographers lost his only son and eldest child this very week. Paul Donnelly, son of Michael, was living Florida when he was in a moped accident. The Donnelly family in Ballyheane have been plunged into grief and a deep sense of loss without a loving and carefree Paul to make them smile with stories from abroad.

These are only a few of the devastating and irreversible losses of life which have rocked the people of Mayo to their very core. Even the hardest person has to take stock and remember what are the most important ingredients in life. Family, friendships, love, generosity and being able to laugh must come ahead of wealth, greed, and all the nastiness of our consumer driven society.

There is so much talk about economic recession these days, loss of jobs, banks taking ownership of houses and companies, doom and gloom, but we need to start taking stock of reality and what really matters in life: that is health, not wealth.

When we are whinging about the weather, or how we are working too hard, or how badly we need a holiday, we need to remember there is always someone worse off. There is always someone who can’t afford a holiday, who has just lost their job, or who would love to see some rain which would end a drought and save thousands or millions from death.

No matter how bad our troubles and woes seem, the grief of losing a loved one must be the worst and most devastating, tragic nightmare that could possibly strike. It comes with such a force and suddenness and life altering fierceness that absolutely nothing else could come close to the overwhelming grief a tragic, unexpected death brings.

I know my words offer no consolation to these grieving families but hopefully they will help shock us back to the reality that there is always someone worse off and we should be living for today, not tomorrow.

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