BY JACKIE KEOGH
TEN years ago, Caroline Murphy, arranged West Cork’s first Mass of the Angels.
Caroline said she and her husband, Batt, did it in memory of their stillborn daughter, Leah, but in doing so they gave countless more families a sacred space in which to openly grieve.
‘The mass is for anyone who has lost a child – whether it was in recent times or long ago because you never forget, nor would you want to,’ she said.
This year, the mass will take place at 3pm on Saturday, September 7th at St Fachtna’s Church in Glandore.
Although the mass will be difficult for grieving families, it will also be a source of comfort because it is a place where they can remember their babies, and emphasise with each other’s loss.
‘You never get over losing a child, you just learn to live with it,’ said Caroline, who was 27 weeks pregnant when Leah at just 2lbs was born ‘asleep’ on September 21st 2009.
Caroline, who runs the award-winning West Cork Eggs, admitted: ‘It was the toughest time of our whole lives. The loss of a child, a baby, is totally against nature and one’s maternal instincts, and it is so sudden, so unexpected, that it is life-changing.’
By making the brave decision to arrange the mass and publicly promote it, Caroline said it helped to break down the taboo that there was about the subject.
Ten years on, she said: ‘The mass continues to be one way of breaking down old barriers and embracing what can only be described as an unending loss.’
At the time, Caroline – like countless others who have known this loss – was in the depths of despair and didn’t think she would ever recover.
‘Even now,’ she said, ‘I still cry for her. And I always will because she is still very much a part of me. But today, I manage my grief.
‘Today, I know we are who we are because of her and I believe she is always with us, minding us in tough times, and sharing in the good.’