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No one can understand how Aideen’s family keep going... but they still do

7 26 4

Only moments into the exceptionally moving Requiem Mass for Aideen Kennedy, Father Sean McCartney went straight to the deeply perplexing and unbearably painful details of this young mother’s death: how could it be that one family should endure so much suffering?

Before him in the pews at the Good Shepherd Church in Belfast were Noel and Maura McGaughey. They had four children. Now, with Aideen’s passing, their two daughters and two sons are all gone.

Such grief is beyond our comprehension, and it was impossible not to be struck by the composure of the McGaugheys, grey-haired, stricken-faced, yet epically stoical. As grandparents do, they were supporting Aideen’s children, Jacob and Eva. It was a tableau of pity and sorrow.

Most of us would have no idea what to say to bring a crumb of comfort to the McGaugheys. The wisest theologian or philosopher would find it difficult to make any sense of why such anguish should be visited again and again and again upon one family. Many feel reduced to a kind of baffled anger at the wretched unfairness.

Clergy, however, cannot walk away from such huge questions about human suffering. Indeed, this was the third time in seven years that Father McCartney had found himself providing spiritual support and emotional solace to the McGaugheys.

Their son, Rory, died aged one in a road accident, but when their son, Dara, died aged 35 from a brain tumour in 2015, and less than a year later their daughter, Fiona (44), died of cancer, Father McCartney had officiated at both funerals. Now, the retired priest was conducting........

© Belfast Telegraph

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