'New fiancee has shown me the beauty of life again' John McAreavey
The Co Down man's wife Michaela was murdered on their honeymoon in Mauritius five years ago
John McAreavey, whose wife Michaela Harte was murdered on their honeymoon in Mauritius over five years ago, has said that his fiancee Tara has shown him the beauty of life again.
And his deep religious faith was the primary reason he was able to deal with Michaela's death and get his life back on track.
The Sunday Independent has reported that he told an audience of over 1,000 people in Knock on Saturday that Tara Brennan, to whom he got engaged towards the end of last year, had helped him find all that was good in life again.
Mr McAreavey, speaking at a two-day event to mark the Catholic Church's Year of Mercy at Knock Shrine in Co Mayo, called 'Engaging the Heart', said his faith had helped him find forgiveness and rebuild his life.
He told the congregation in a half-hour address that it has been a difficult journey.
"It is only in recent times, in the last year or two, that I rediscovered the faith and the real energy in my life and that the world is a beautiful place.
"And coming from a situation where everything was dark and gloomy, with no light, it is a wonderful thing for me to be able to say that I am able to love again.
"My fiancee Tara has shown me the beauty of life again, all the good things about life and what I have learned is that I am able to deal with anything that life puts in front of me because I know that I will always have God at my side."
Mr McAreavey co-founded the 'Michaela Foundation: Life Without Limits' to commemorate and celebrate the values of his wife, the daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte.
Mr McAreavey said that the murder of his wife was extremely difficult to deal with but that his faith was the key instrument in him coming to terms with it.
"I do not want to be identified as a victim, a 'poor me' complex or to be seen as seeking sympathy.
"For me, 'poor tragic husband, the man whose wife was murdered on their honeymoon', that description does not say who I am or what I do. I am a strong, confident person, full of love and integrity and other positive traits and this is how I identify myself.
"There was the pain of losing a loved one in such a cruel and tragic manner, then the injustice in the aftermath of that time. And I admit that there were times when there really was no hope left in my life and I could no longer bear such a heavy cross.
"When something like that happens, we can either react with bitterness or seek to transform suffering into a creative force and I decided to choose the latter," he said.
The murder of his wife destroyed all their hopes and dreams and Mr McAreavey said it was the first time in his life when he didn't know what to do.
"I always had a plan in life. I always knew what I was trying to achieve, always knew where I was looking to go, so to be met with a situation where there was no hope and no plan any more, I felt that the best thing for me to do was to offer my life to God and let him guide me.
"So, as I understood it, God had planted a seed of mercy in my heart as I didn't have any more feelings of bitterness and anger."
Mr McAreavey said that the absence of feelings of retribution and bitterness was very important to him. "Forgiveness doesn't mean you are pardoning or excusing someone's actions. It doesn't mean that you tell the person that he or she is forgiven. It doesn't mean we shouldn't have any more feelings about the situation.Forgiveness doesn't mean we should forget the incident ever happened.
"By forgiving, for me, I was simply accepting the reality of what happened."