Belfast Telegraph

'Talk to each other', mum urges young people at son's funeral

By Donna Deeney

The heartbroken mother of a teenager who died tragically six months after his father was killed yesterday pleaded with young people to seek help if they are struggling with grief.

Aodhan Ward passed away at his home in Plumbridge, Co Tyrone, on Monday.

The 15-year-old had been grief-stricken since the death of his father Nishi, whom he "idolised" and who was his "kindred spirit", Fr Brian Donnelly told the congregation at his funeral yesterday.

Poignantly the red tractor Aodhan drove ahead of his father's funeral cortege last November also led the way from the family home to the Sacred Heart Church in Plumbridge for his requiem mass.

A large section of the congregation was comprised of Aodhan's friends and school mates from Drumragh Integrated College, who were part of a guard of honour.

Aodhan's mother Jennifer, speaking from the altar, made an emotional plea for people in distress to seek help.

Paying tribute to her son, she said: "Our Aodhan was strong, our Aodhan was the life and soul of every occasion, he was the best of craic.

"He lifted all our spirits with his cheeky one-liners. He had plans for the future. He was always surrounded by people and he would help anyone.

"Everyone here would do anything to bring him back. Grief is all our love with no place to go but we have to channel all that love into helping each other.

"I know if Aodhan had been able to give us and himself more time he would have realised we can't always fix every problem but we can all help each other cope a wee bit better.

"Young people here, look around at how heartbroken we all are. We have to help each other but more importantly we have to let others help us.

"Talk, talk, please tell each other our stories and memories.

"It's okay to laugh, it's really, really okay to cry. It's okay not to be okay.

"God, if we ask him, God will give us strength."

Mrs Ward stepped down from the altar to thunderous applause ahead of the final blessings for her beloved son.

During his homily Fr Donnelly spoke of the special bond shared by Aodhan and his late father Nishi.

"The loss of someone you love is a shattering experience and that is how many of us feel today and it was how Aodhan felt when he found his father suddenly taken from him," he said.

"His father was his soulmate, they were kindred spirits and he idolised his father.

"Aodhan was everything Nishi could have wanted in a son and Nishi was every thing Aodhan could have wished for in a father.

"They were inseparable and so the grief of loss that he experienced must have gone beyond the point that he could have coped with."

Fr Donnelly said Aodhan was "still a child, not yet formed into the stature of the man he was going to be".

He added: "Who knows what was going on in his mind but had we known Aodh sense of desolation and the true depth of grief we might have reassured him that brighter days lay ahead.

"We could have assured him that life has its up and downs and days of sorrow do pass, like all things pass.

"When we are young we expect answers to come too soon, the impatience of youth, waiting for an answer for some things that only settle with time shows us we cannot put an old head on young shoulders.

"The thoughts of an old man are not those of a young man.

"We know as adults that our thinking does change with time and that what seems insurmountable in our youth, with the passage of time, will be resolved in some settled form.

"There is no accounting of how any one of us would react if we faced the sorrow that Aodhan experienced when all of his world was turned upside down last November."

Following requiem mass Aodhan was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery beside his father.

If you are affected by any issues in this article contact the Samaritans on 084 5790 9090 or Lifeline on 080 8808 8000.

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