A message to our friends in Cirencester

I have a complicated relationship with organised religion so it has been a pleasant surprise to me that one of the greatest sources of support and comfort has been our local vicar, Father Leonard Doolan and the Church of St John Baptist. He has been, quite simply, brilliant.

It could not have been an easy task for Fr Leonard to knock on our door a few days after Edward’s death, when our grief was so raw, to offer his condolences, support and help in arranging the funeral. We were in a terrible state and he was there to start the sad process of completing the tragically short cycle of Edward’s life, having baptised him, Alice and Arthur only 3 years previously. Much of the meeting is now a blur but I can say without any doubt that both he, and the Church, have played a huge role in our ability to cope with Edward’s loss practically, emotionally and, yes, spiritually, ever since.

Edward’s funeral service was beautiful because of the Church. It allowed us to share our love for our son in public and brought over 350 people together (religious, agnostic and atheist) under one roof show to their support for us. The Church has continued to provide comfort as we light candles for Edward almost every day and just being in the building helps me feel at peace. We, as a family, are extremely grateful to Fr. Leonard for allowing us to celebrate and remember our son in such a wonderful way.

Now, before I get accused of some kind of misplaced evangelism, especially by those of my friends who prefer the word of Richard Dawkins, let me be absolutely clear. The simple fact is that the church has played a significant role in comforting and helping us. It has brought hundreds of people together to support us, opened its arms to embrace us and shown us that it has a very important place in our local community. There are very few organisations that can achieve so much, especially in such difficult circumstances, and for this alone it deserves our support.

Clare has always taken Alice to the All Family Service whenever possible whilst I stayed at home to look after the boys, and we always intended to go as a family of five once they were a bit older. Although we are now without Edward, Arthur is now old enough to go (without causing mayhem) and will be coming with us for the first time to the All Family Service this Sunday, September 8 at 10.00am. We are told that the theme will be ‘New Beginnings’ which is quite appropriate for us.

It will be the first time that we as a family will be together in church since Edward’s funeral and it would be lovely to see some of our friends from Cirencester there and perhaps grab a coffee or pint afterwards. This blog has been a great way of keeping in touch but it isn’t the most appropriate way to convey our thanks to all of you for the way that you have embraced us. Perhaps we will be able to do so more appropriately in person, and I can’t think of a better way to start than this Sunday’s All Family Service in Cirencester.

5 thoughts on “A message to our friends in Cirencester

  1. Sarah Watson

    I’ve not read your blog for a while, Andy, and once again the utter beauty and honesty of your words has made me cry. Thomas starts with Arthur on Monday, in the same class, and I know our boys will grow and learn together over the next few years. Just as I feel I’ve grown and learnt so much about how to handle truly terrible grief with absolute dignity and grace.

    Still in our thoughts,

    Sarah Watson and family

  2. Bob Morris

    I hope it was a great time for you all as a family and nice to read of your support from the church and it’s people! Continuing to remember you in prayer….

  3. Norma

    Hi there;
    just caught up with your last few blogs Andy ; compelling reading as usual !!
    Lovely to hear that you got away to Cornwall, hope you were able “to chill.”
    Your honesty in explaining your grief is refreshing( which may sound a bit odd ) as to me it sounds very natural and understandably human.
    The moment you describe how you wanted for others to know, that you too were once a family of five…and just the most simple of things like the four of you getting into a car; such constant challenges and new adjustments to make, must be exhausting. Yet as you describe so well its not like you could forget or even want to. I’m sure your experiences will ring true to others who know similar grief.
    So pleased to hear about Arthur and Alice; what a wonderful big sister.
    Lovely to hear how Arthur is doing. You and Clare must be very proud of them both.
    How difficult for you and Clare, the mixed emotions of the commencement of school for Arthur. I imagine Edward would also be proud of Arthur and Alice coping with this huge milestone.
    It sounds very encouraging how you describe Arthur has become more vocal and sounds more confident. Hope his leg is healing 0K now! Gosh, just something else to deal with/worry about hey! Well take care you two.
    Love and best wishes to you all. XXXXXX

  4. Leonard Doolan

    Hi Andy and Clare – I have taken a huge step forward and actually clicked on to your blog. It was so wonderful to see you in church on Sunday for our All Age worship. It was certainly a huge and surprisingly young congregation!

    Thank you for the kind things you have said about the support of the church. It has been a ‘sad joy’ to be with you as a family over these last weeks, and you have been truly impressive people throughout.

    you are often in my continued prayers. Fr. Leonard


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