There is nothing glorious about death, of course. But I've been thinking this week about the power of intense and sustained personal grief. This year has been tough in that regard - I lost my dear friend Tim Edwards. Even thinking about him now I'm welling up.
In March we also lost my Dad's "little brother" Pete, who at 6 foot 7 was a giant in one very obvious way, but also a large and loving presence in the lives of everyone he touched. Pete was only 52 and left a wife Sue and two wonderful kids Danny and Jenn who are the greatest permanent memorial to a proper bloke who extolled such a love of life and a terrific sense of humour. There was a big gap at my sister's wedding party recently where Pete should have been. I thought today how much a throwaway joke about Liverpool player Andy Carroll would have been right up Pete's street.
This powerful feeling, this strong emotional wrench we experience is the ultimate tribute to a life lived. The packed services for both men were a mark of how loved they were and how many people had such varied and cherished memories. There's a bible reference that comes to mind - "blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted". But there's also the celebration and love of a person who has died, but who created so much good, so much love and so much emotion.
I have difficulty explaining exactly what I feel here, but I was once again moved this week reading the eulogy Alastair Campbell paid to his friend Philip Gould by way of a letter to a man who was weakening and fading. His was a slow and expected death, while Tim and Pete both died suddenly - which shocked everyone concerned to their core. It also denied so many the chance to show how loved they were, but you hope, in fact you know, they surely were aware of it. Grief, as Alastair's piece says, is the price we pay for love. A quote from the Queen.
There's a link to it in full here, and I would encourage you to read it, whatever you think of AC. But I would like to take the last bit for Pete and his family and for how I feel about Tim: "More, I’ll miss your always being on hand to help me think something
through, large or small. But what I will miss more than anything is the
life force, the big voice. You have made our lives so much better. You
are part of our lives and you will be forever. Because in my life, Philip, you were a bigger force than the death which is about to take you."