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Reform Magazine | November 16, 2018

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On the pilgrim way: ‘Grief has cut us to the heart’

Sheila Maxey grieves a terrible family tragedy

On 28 August, our 24-year-old granddaughter, Ciara, took her own life. It was a deliberate act, not a cry for help.

Our son, Peter, had long been separated from Donna, Ciara’s mother, and Ciara was largely living with him and his new family. Ciara had dropped out of college two months before finals and had been in deep depression, more or less, ever since. Peter is a pagan and a man of deep spirituality. He is also a nurse in a children’s hospice, so he has resources both practical and spiritual. But his terrible grief has cut us to the heart.

The funeral abounded in love. Peter and Donna, and Loren, Ciara’s sister, planned it together. There was comfort from the many, many people who came. Our extended family came from California, Berlin, Scotland, from the north and west of England, as well as from London and more locally.

There was comfort from Ciara’s network of transgender friends, as well as from Ciara’s other friends which the family did not know. Many of Ciara’s friends spoke so warmly of her creativity, wit and warm friendship.

Music composed by Ciara was played. Her mother and sister sang together, through their tears. We were all invited to write a message to Ciara and tie it to her wicker coffin. But she is still dead, and she left us deliberately.

We are all trying to come to terms with this tragedy. Peter is holding on to the fact that Ciara took control of her life; she took a decision and carried it out – though her depression had been so paralysing. But as a Christian, I am fighting a battle with anger. God gave her the precious gift of life and she threw it back in God’s face. What a waste! Why could she not have battled on through the darkness and come out the other side? The answer comes to me. She never could believe that she was truly loved.

On my card for her, I wrote: ‘Dear Ciara, now you are safely in the loving arms of God. We will miss you.’

I keep thinking of Wilfred Owen’s line from his war poem, ‘Futility’: ‘Was it for this the clay grew tall?’ I hope the words of Jesus are true: ‘Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted.’

Sheila Maxey is Book Reviews Editor for Reform

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This article was published in the November 2018 edition of  Reform

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