The Madness of Grief

Musing further on musician, priest, radio/TV personality, and writer Richard Coles. I’ve just read ‘The Madness of Grief’, his ‘memoir of love and loss’, following the death of his life partner David, shortly before Christmas 2019.

Musing on 3 extracts…

Following David’s death there was much hateful, homophobic communication – particularly from Christians:

‘…I opened… a horrible card, bristling with scriptural quotations to support the sender’s thesis that I would be going to hell, where David was right now being tormented by eternal fire, and it would be just dandy to have the two of us reunited there.’

This seems particularly poignant following recent examples of racial hate and prejudice…

Shortly after David’s death Richard visited a parishioner whose son had been murdered:

‘…We sat at the kitchen table and we held each other’s hands, both bereaved… we prayed for each other, not priest to parishioner, but fellow casualties of the war with death. It is a war we win, we both knew that, and weeping we make our alleluias over the grave, but it is a victory in which it is hard sometimes to rejoice…’

In David’s funeral proceedings my prejudice expected an emphasis on the Mass, liturgy and ceremony… I was chastened by the importance given to and the comfort received from familiar scriptures:

‘I am the resurrection and the life… Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live…’  

‘I am convinced that neither death nor life… nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord…’

‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is his faithfulness…’

Richard’s churchmanship, sexuality and life-style are very different from mine. I don’t agree with him about everything. However I warm to his humanity and honesty; I respect and admire his faith; I’ve learnt from his experiences of life and death.

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