Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Michaela McAreavey's death reminds us of a hurt that we all feel

John and Michaela McAreavey at the Giant's Causeway in north Antrim
John and Michaela McAreavey at the Giant's Causeway in north Antrim
Michaela McAreavey's husband John kisses her coffin as her remains are carried to St Malachy's Church in Ballygawley for her funeral mass.
Poignant message and flowers from Michaela McAreavey's family
Margaret Ritchie and Basil McCrea arrive for Michaela McAreavey's funeral
Order of Service funeral of Michaela McAreavey
Order of Service at funeral of Michaela McAreavey at St Malachy's Church
Irish President Mary McAlease and her husband Martin
Michaela McAreavey's cortege makes its way to the church
Michaela McAreavey's husband John wears his wedding ring as the cortege makes its way to the church
John McAreavey places the coffin of his wife Michaela McAreavey, 27, daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte in the back of the hearse.
Irish president Mary McAleese attends the funeral of Michaele McAreavey.
The funeral cortege of Michaela McAreavey arrives at St Malachy's church outside Ballygawley.
Michaela McAreavey's remains arrive for burial at St Malachy's church, Ballygawley. She was killed whilst on honeymoon in Mauritius.
Michaela McAreavey's coffin is carried from her parents' home in Ballygawley
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness attends the funeral of Michaela McAreavey.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams attends the funeral of Michaela McAreavey.
Michaela and John McAreavey outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France
Michaela McAreavey's coffin is carried from her parents' home in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone
John and Michaela McAreavey on their honeymoon
Tyrone Manager Mickey Harte at his daughter Michaela's wedding to John McAreavey
John and Michaela McAreavey, pictured here on a visit to the Giant's Causeway. The couple were on honeymoon in Mauritius when Michaela was murdered.
The remains of murdered honeymooner Michaela McAreavey return home last night from Mauritius.
The remains of murdered honeymooner Michaela McAreavey return home last night from Mauritius.
Former Tyrone Captain Peter Canavan (3rd left) joins members of the Errigal Ciaran GAA Club line the route as a hearse transporting the body of murdered Mauritius honeymooner Michaela McAreavey approaches in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone.
The body of Michaela McAreavey left George Best Belfast City airport in a hearse on Friday afternoon.
Michaela McAreavey's husband John, (foreground), waits for the hearse to leave Belfast city airport under police escort on the last leg of ehe journey home
Michaela's remains leave Victoria Hospital in Muiritius yesterday en route to the airport. 13th January 2011.
John McAreavey, husband of Michaela Harte leaving the mortuary at Victoria Hospital in Mauritius yesterday wearing her wedding ring and engagement ring around his neck
John McAreavey, husband of Michaela Harte leaving the mortuary at Victoria Hospital in Mauritius yesterday wearing her wedding ring and engagement ring around his neck
A hearse with the body of Michaela McAreavey, leaves George Best Belfast city airport. Friday January 14, 2011.
Michaela McAreavey on her wedding day
John McAreavey and wife Michaela Harte are seen on their wedding day
Michaela Harte Far Right front in St.Malachy's Primary School where she attended and later done her teaching placement..
Raj Theekoy
Suspect Avinash Treebhoowoon (29) is brought to Mapou Court, Port Louis Mauritius, Wednesday, Jan.12, 2011. The room attendant has been charged with the murder of Michaela McAreavey.
Suspect Sandip Moneea (41) covers his face as he is escorted to Mapou Court, Port Louis Mauritius, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. The floor supervisor has been charged with the murder of Michaela McAreavey.
Raj Theekoy (33), faces a conspiracy charge in connection with the murder of Michaela McAreavey.
A distraught Mickey Harte with son Michael.
Michaela Harte (left) in St.Malachy's Primary School where she attended as a pupil and later completed her teaching placement.
Michaela Harte in with Throphy in St.Malachy's Primary School where Michaela attended and later done her teaching placement
Micheala Harte in fancy dress in St.Malachy's Primary School where she attended as a pupil and later completed her teaching placement..
A distraught Mickey Harte with sons Matthew (left) and Michael at their family home near Ballygawley
Michaela Harte after she had received a B.Ed at Queens University Belfast. (Picture taken in June 2006)
Balloons with the couple's names giving directions to St Malachy's Church outside Ballygwley where they recently got married
A distraught Mickey Harte at his family home near Ballygawley
Wedding flowers from the couple's recent marriage at St Malachy's Church outside Ballygawley
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 11/1/2011Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin KernoghanA distraught Mickey Harte with sons Matthew (left) and Michael at their family home near Ballygawley today.Michaela, the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte was strangled, Mauritius police have said.Michaela McAreavey, 27, was found dead at the Legends hotel in Mauritius where she was staying while on honeymoon.The 27-year-old Irish woman had married John McAreavey, a member of Down's gaelic football team, on 30 December. He is not a suspect.Police in Mauritius intend to question six people about the killing later on Tuesday.
A wedding sign and balloons telling wedding guests directions to the church near the family home in Ballygawley
Mickey Harte (centre), is comforted at the family home outside Ballygawley in Co Tyrone
(From the left) Mickey Harte, John McAreavey, Michaela Harte, Bishop John McAreavey and Brendan McAreavey are seen on the wedding day of Michaela Harte and John McAreavey
Donegal Celtic and Cliftonville observe a minutes silence in respect of Michaela Harte at the game in west Belfast
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and his daughter Michaella
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and his daughter Michaela after the All Ireland Football Final 28/9/2003
Michaela Harte, daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte. Pic by Ian Magill. 23/3/10.Real Woman feature by Stephanie Bell.
Michaela Harte
Irish News handout of (left to right) Mickey Harte, John McAreavey, Michaela Harte, Bishop John McAreavey and Brendan McAreavey on the wedding day of Michaela Harte and John McAreavey at St. Malacheys Church Ballymacilrory on December 30, 2010. Michaela, the daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte was murdered in her hotel room, police in Mauritius confirmed today.
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte with his son David and daughter Michaela after his side's win at Croke Park
Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte graduates at Queens University pictured with his daughter Machela who also graduatedand became a Bachelor in Education
Michaela Harte appearing on the television programme the Late Late Show.
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte celebrates with his daughter Michaela and his son Matthew
John McAreavey and wife Michaela Harte are seen on their wedding day at St. Malacheys Church Ballymacilrory on December 30, 2010.
Mickey Harte, pictured in 2006 with his daughter Michaela

The loss of a loved one is hard to bear, whether that loss is expected or unexpected, sudden or lingering, peaceful or violent.

I didn't know anyone in the Harte or McAreavey family circles but from what I've read about them they would not claim their suffering over the loss of Michaela is any greater than that of any bereaved family.

I found it very touching that Michaela's broken-hearted father Mickey Harte took a moment to pay tribute to all the families who have stood in the place where the Harte and McAreavey families are now standing.

And yet there is something about the sudden and violent death of someone as young and beautiful as Michaela that affects us all.

If someone so happy and content, so good and kind, so loving and so loved, can have their life taken away from them, what a sobering reminder it is for the rest of us. Life is nothing if not unpredictable. Life is not always fair. In the midst of life we are in death, and so on.

Michaela Harte had it all. She was a great beauty and an Ulster Rose. She was much-loved by her parents and by her three brothers, and by the pupils at the school where she taught Irish and religion, and by her many friends in the GAA community. She enjoyed life to the full. She planned a romantic Christmas wedding to her sweetheart, John McAreavey, and then the handsome couple set off on their dream honeymoon.

They were to see out the winter frosts on the paradise island of Mauritius. And after the dream honeymoon was over, John and Michaela were to move into their lovely new home; except the honeymoon came to an end too soon.

I'm sure few of us can bear to dwell on the events that took place in that hotel room in Mauritius. There seems no rational explanation for what happened. But within the space of a few short and brutal moments, a life that was rich and rewarding in every way was ended. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people will carry the sadness of this experience in their hearts forever. It really is a tale of innocence lost.

We pay tribute to the Harte and McAreavey families for hosting such a magnificent funeral for their beloved Michaela. In their shoes many people would not have felt able to see anyone. They would not have been able to even think of the grief of other people.

But it is a measure of the Harte and McAreavey families that they acknowledged all the other people besides themselves who loved Michaela, and who wanted to say goodbye to her.

And we hope that the strong religious faith of Michaela's family circle can bring them some comfort in their time of sorrowful bereavement.

As Michaela's father said, nobody can understand what they are going through now, unless they have been through it themselves. That is quite true.

And as we ponder today the casual cruelties of life we can only hope that we are spared the agony of losing a child in this way. Words are hard to find but I heard someone say once, when a child had died that Jesus wanted that child to come and sit by his side. I don't pretend to have an explanation for what happened to Michaela.

I have no idea what I would do in a similar position. I just hope that everyone who loved Michaela can draw together now, and find some comfort in togetherness, and that God will bless them soon with peace and acceptance and the strength to carry on without her.

Michaela was a girl who lived life to the full. She played an active role in her community. She encouraged young people to abstain from alcohol. She was one of those rare souls who are universally admired. In fact, she was described as a shining light.

As I said before, it is hard to find words at a time like this. All I can say is that we send our most sincere condolences to everyone who knew and loved Michaela.

To her husband John, to her parents and brothers, to her pupils and fellow teachers, to her friends in the GAA, to her neighbours in Ballygawley, Dungannon, Lawrencetown and Ballymacilroy, and to anyone else who knew her, we are thinking of you. Michaela Harte McAreavey, may you rest in peace.

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