Audrey Ashcroft Writes...

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I don't usually read agony columns but I read a letter in Bel Mooney's column on 18th April and kept it. It was from a lady who was a devout Catholic whose husband had been ill for some time with herself as carer. He had been diagnosed with Covid-19 and taken to hospital where he died. She says that they clashed a lot about her faith and his lack of it and this had become worse as his illness had progressed.

She writes "Now he's gone. I promised he would not die alone, that I would be with him. The three days by his bedside became a time of calm and grace. I told him over and over I loved him and that he was a good man. He told me he loved me, I held his hand, read to him, helped him to drink and stayed silent, too. I asked him three times if he wanted me to get a chaplain and each time the answer was no. So I blessed him myself with the sign of the cross on his forehead, chest and hands. He let me. He died peacefully, I told him he could go, and that I'd asked his late parents to come to meet him and I believe they did.

She goes on to write "And now I'm alone, isolated, thinking about a fitting humanist funeral. I want to respect his wishes for a non-religious ceremony. But how can I, as a Christian, not be true to my own belief that this isn't the end? Good Friday makes no sense without Easter Sunday. Would it be wrong to talk about hope?"

In Bel's reply she says "There are many, many ways of loving and you have experienced the range, haven't you?
Similarly there are many, many paths to God and some do not have any signposts. As a Roman Catholic you have been sustained by your faith — even though it irritated your husband. I feel I understand you both."

After describing her own passage to faith Bel continues, "I believe that humanistic ceremonies conducted with real love can contain a more profound meaning than a church service that rattles through. So I'm glad you intend to respect your husband's wishes for a non-religious ceremony and believe that your cherished Lord will be present at the same time simply because you are. I understand that the 'hope' of which you speak is that of a life to come: the risen Lord on Easter Sunday promising that death is not the end.".

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