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.