Nothing saddens me more than conducting funerals for young people - and when I look back over the last few years I seem to have officiated at far too many.
I recall ceremonies for babies who have died after taking a few short breaths of air, and even sadder are the ceremonies for those that didn’t even make it that far - born asleep.
There are young people who are afflicted with illnesses such as melanoma, leukaemia, meningitis and how sad it is to see their potential for a happy life cut short. The way in which some meet death by battling for every last drop of life can be inspiring and sets us all a true example for how we can deal with adversity of this kind.
There are those who have been killed in traffic accidents, and those who have been the victim of crime and I shall always recall the funeral of a little girl, neglected by her family, who died in awful squalor - their presence at her funeral just felt wrong. They were not there for her in life after all.
This week I conducted a funeral for a young man who had taken his own life - a tragic call for help that had gone a little too far and resulted in his life being lost.
The young man was a very private and proud individual, he was battling some deep personal issues and in the end, for similarly personal reasons, he took the course of action that would lead to his death.
His family are devastated - and they will have to live with those awful questions - was there something we could have done or said? What signs did we miss that this was going to happen? They will tear themselves to shreds in the days ahead trying to answer these unanswerable questions.
Sometimes, and I do not know the circumstances of this case, but sometimes part of the blame lies in our society and the fact that we will not accept people for who they are - we judge them and label them lesser than ourselves because what they do with their life is not ‘normal’.
This bigotry and hatred is based in ignorance and may be stoked by religious intolerance and I find it the most unchristian aspect of christianity and likewise the most uncaring and inhuman side of other world religions.
If one person takes their life because they feel that their life is not valued, then it lessens the value of all of us…
I don’t want to conduct funerals for young people but sometimes circumstances we cannot change make that necessary - but it makes me sad and angry that I have to conduct funerals for anyone, of any age, who has taken the choice to end their life because no one understands or accepts them for who they are.