Belfast Telegraph

In dark days ahead, baby can be grief-stricken Louise's light

Take a look at the photograph on our front page today. Gaze upon the face of Louise McGrotty and see a woman walking through a nightmare carrying the coffin of one of her sons, part of a cortege of coffins bearing the remains of virtually everyone she held dear.

Louise lost her partner, her two sons, her mother and her only sister when unimaginable darkness descended out of a bright blue evening sky onto the pier at Buncrana last Sunday as the family car slipped into the waters of Lough Swilly. Death is the only certainty in life, but seldom can it have manifested itself so cruelly as on that evening.

Three generations of a family were lost in moments. It was a tragedy that would wring a tear from a stone, and countless people have wept in sympathy with Louise.

As the priest at the funeral service for the five deceased said yesterday, the only sliver of light, of hope, was the fact that the couple's youngest child, baby Rionaghac-Ann, was plucked from the waters by heroic Davitt Walsh, who plunged into the sea regardless of his own safety.

For Louise that baby, also pictured on the front page with her rescuer, is - as she so candidly admitted - her only reason for going on. Rionaghac-Ann is the sole remaining link to the life that Louise had, and will now be the focus of all the love and care that a mother can give. At this central point in the Christian calendar, she is literally Louise's saviour.

At times of sorrow extended family, friends and neighbours gather to lend their support, and no doubt Louise has been grateful for all the kind words and help she has received during the past few days.

Yet it is evident, and inevitable, that she is a woman wrung dry of every emotion but grief as she struggles to make sense of the cross that she now has to bear. One can only stand in admiration at how she found the courage and strength to put into verse how she feels and then read it to the congregation.

As First Minister Arlene Foster, who visited Louise's home with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness yesterday morning, said, it is the days ahead which will be hardest for Louise. She has been sustained to an extent by the outpouring of sympathy from across her native city and beyond during this week, but for everyone else, life goes on as usual.

Life for Louise can never be the same again.

She will replay the events of Sunday in her mind again and again, wondering how a spur of the moment trip out could have such life-altering consequences.

She had been returning home from England when she heard the mind-numbing news that her loved ones had died.

Horror, heartache, heroism are words so often attached to tragic events and they apply totally in this instance, yet they seem such futile words, so incapable to getting to the core of those touched by the deaths.

Unless someone has walked those same steps that Louise took yesterday, they cannot even begin to comprehend what she is going through. We can only be grateful we have been spared such pain.

Belfast Telegraph

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