Country feels pain at dimming of our brightest generation

Country feels pain at dimming of our brightest generation

I spoke to a woman last month who had lost her daughter. Way too young. Way too soon. Beautiful child. It has been several years now. She told me that she gets by; that she can laugh, and that she can cry. She cries a lot. She sighs a lot. She told me that her husband still finds it hard to look at a photograph. That he grimaces and internalises. And tries to forget but can’t. It just signifies too much. All the years of raising and loving. The smiles. The beautiful smiles. The nights of going in checking to see if she was asleep. The nights she might have been calling out for them after a bad dream. Life goes on for them. A new reality. An altered existence. But it is a life without total enjoyment. The joy has been taken out of life, she told me.

The joy has been taken out of life.


Six families this morning haven’t realised that yet. They are being handfed through a net of care, of compassion. Their almost every need looked after. Every need that they require now, anyway. The one need that they have is one that will not be taken care of. A simple need. Just to hear the key in the door and the skip down the hallway of their child. The child who they brought up to be happy and carefree. The child they brought up to become a wonderful adult. One who would travel the world. Who would achieve their goals, whatever they might be. Or who would enjoy their own lives and enhance the lives of others in trying to do so. And for now there are things to be done. Practical things. Things they’d rather wish were over so they could get back to themselves, to their own corner, to sit in a corner by themselves and let out the howl within them, that howl of pain and grief that nobody who has never lost a child can ever understand. They would like that space, but they can’t ask for it because it would seem impolite to be even seen as not appreciating the help. But in their heads, they just cannot let go of the pictures and images, the memories, the horror, the sense of some ridiculous failure that they were unable to mind their child. And then there is the unbearable sadness of the terrifying reality of it all.

And then there’s forever.


Every parish, every village, every family knows the impact of a young death. Ireland is a country gripped with the reality of it. People who cannot face life because of the toughness of it. People who embrace life because of the toughness of it. The deaths of older people we can handle. It seems to be in the natural order. But the deaths of young people seem all the more senseless and hard to absorb.

As a country we want our young people to explore the world, to rid themselves of the awe that held so many of us back. We want them to experience parties in California, skydiving in New Zealand, trekking through the Andes. My nephew heads off to Alaska to volunteer working with a childrens’ camp next week. It is that kind of funloving adventuring social consciousness that we want to build into this new generation. Would we want to wrap our most exciting generation ever in cotton wool? Would we want to rid this most pioneering generation of Irish of the opportunity of seeking intellectual and cultural parity with their international counterparts? Of becoming more attuned with the world so as to get a better understanding of our place within it?

My heart is paining as I write this. It has been ever since I heard the news at lunchime on Tuesday. Our island is a family and right now all of us are hurting. We know too that the more we yearn our people to explore and travel, the more sad sad tales such as this week we will continue to hear.

But it does not lessen the pain.


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