Her raw sadness was too great for words, her shock was palpable.
In the midst of a tragedy of unspeakable proportions, the community of Brookfield gathered in Tallaght in a rock-solid show of solidarity that was both awe-inspiring and immensely touching.
Huddled together on the streets and over garden walls, the neighbors discussed endlessly in low voices what had happened and how it could have happened.
The caring support they showed for each other at a time when they felt utterly helpless was evident in gestures big and small.
Just before Thursday night’s move for Lisa Cash, 18, and her twin siblings Chelsea and Christy, 8, a shower of broken glass in the street had been vigorously swept up by three youths with their own kitchen brushes before the arrival of the horses pulling the three hearses.
People lined the streets to honor the three dead young children, and the funeral saw hundreds gather to show their support for the devastated families.
Rev. Fr. Bill O’Shaughnessy recognized the fellowship for the example they had set in helping one another to process what had happened, showing that “no matter how dark an act may be, the light and compassion shine brighter.”
How a community can begin the healing process in the coming weeks, months and years is the real question.
The funeral, with its rituals and all the concrete planning that needs to be implemented, offers some comfort. But the emptiness that comes later is the worst – when the sense of loss and loneliness becomes more evident and the empty seats at the kitchen table or on the school desks play a big role.
“Talk about what’s going on in your heads and hearts – it’s important to talk to each other,” the mourners were asked to move.
Safe Ireland CEO Mary McDermott said her organization was deeply saddened by the deaths in Tallaght and sent her heartfelt condolences to her mother Margaret and her heroic teenage brother, extended families and loved ones.
It’s really important to get the emotions out of there and it can be very difficult
“It will be important in the coming months that the entire community be supported in their grief,” she said.
The President of the Psychological Society of Ireland, Dr. Vincent McDarby told the Irish Independent that the Irish people are known for their support when communities come together to mourn.
“As a population, we think of others when they are going through grief and trauma and we are quick to offer support,” he said.
“At a funeral you see people showing up who may not have even known the family – people drive three hours across the country to go to a parade just to shake hands – an interaction that lasts seconds. It means a lot to people.
“Other countries don’t show this open support and solidarity in grief in the same way – often it’s reserved for a head of state, but we have a unique way of dealing with grief and grief.”
When it comes to starting the healing process, he emphasized the importance of conversation.
“It’s really important to get the emotions out there and that can be very difficult. You don’t have to push someone to talk about it, but it’s about letting them know that you’re willing to talk to them and that you’re willing to listen.
“It doesn’t mean the grief will diminish, but over time we can focus on the positive impact that person has had on our lives as well as the grief.”
But he stressed that it would take time.
“In all grief, the only thing that begins is loss. It’s difficult to see anything positive because all you see is the hole in your life.
“One thing we have to look out for is prescribed mourning – that you should burst into tears or that the period of mourning should last a certain amount of time – everyone is different and you can’t give bookends to mourning.”
We’ve gotten better as a nation at opening up to our feelings, but deaths in tragic circumstances can be particularly difficult to process.
“There can be a feeling among people that when you come across someone who has been through a bereavement, you might not want to speak to them for fear of hurting their feelings.
“But sometimes you want to talk, and even if you’re upset, it helps you let your emotions out, as difficult as it may be. It’s important to be able to talk,” he said.
Joan Deane, spokeswoman for the AdVIC victim support service, said her organization offers a free one-to-one counseling service after each tragedy. Anyone affected by recent events and in need of support can contact AdVIC on 0873148363 or at www.advic.ie.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/no-matter-how-dark-an-act-the-light-shines-brighter-how-tallaght-can-begin-healing-process-after-tragedy-41977820.html “No matter how dark a plot, the light shines brighter” – how Tallaght can begin a healing process after tragedy