Two mothers who set shining example
The death of a child is every parent's worst dread. It defies the natural order of life, making the grief at the loss all the more profound.
Today we carry two reports on the heartbreak that has hit two families in this way. Yet, amidst their grief, both mothers have found the courage to speak of their children's sterling fight for life and to pay tribute to a son and a daughter respectively who were at the centre of their lives.
By a cruel twist of fate one of the mums, Ellen Bunting, has discovered that she suffers from the same disease - skin cancer - that claimed her son Robert. But while his condition went undetected until it was too late to stop the spread of the cancer, Ellen's was diagnosed at an early stage.
It is a measure of the despair she felt following the death of Robert - who was married with two young children - that she almost welcomed her own diagnosis and possible death. But instead she channelled her energies into getting better and to spreading the message about the dangers of skin cancer and the need to take preventative measures in the sun.
She and the rest of her family has seen the horrible consequences of the disease and the way it claimed the life of her son. She deserves great praise for wanting to help others avoid the same fate.
Her awareness campaign is a noble venture born out of heartrending loss.
The other mum, Margaret McMenamin, does not have any message to relay after the death of her 24-year-old daughter Bronagh. Instead, she simply wants to speak of the pride she had in the beautiful young girl who suffered from cystic fibrosis.
Bronagh never let the condition limit her enjoyment of life. She even played football for her local Derry City team and led as full a life as she could.
Margaret's pride in her daughter shines out from every word of her interview and, no doubt, the joy that Bronagh brought to the home during her short life will help sustain the family in the hours, days and weeks ahead.
She, like Robert, showed a determination to cling to life even though the odds were heavily stacked against her.
Having lost someone dear to them, these two families know the value of life, just how precious it is and how quickly and cruelly it can be snatched away.
In their different ways they have celebrated the lives which have been lost and that, perhaps, is the most fitting memorial.