Talk to the kids this Christmas

Dec 20th, 2008 | By | Category: Ministry

The strains of “Bring him home” from Les Miserables came from the piano.  Memories flooded back of the funeral of a young man, dead at twenty.

We never had training in coping with suicide; we never had training in coping with much.  The best insight was an attempt at empathy with young people, and it came not from any lecturer, but from Inspector Morse:

Morse: She didn’t do anything special against me. It was just the steady accumulation; the drip, drip, drip of humiliations . . . hatreds, when you’re that age.

So I suddenly thought, ‘Sod this. I’m getting out of this; it’s not worth it’.

Lewis: You ran away?

Morse: I decided to kill myself.  I though of all the ways of doing it, then I put them in order: one, two, three . . .  all the way down to about fifteen; which would hurt me the most; which would hurt dad; which would Gwen. I even thought of which would hurt little Joycey the least.  I liked Joyce.

Then I thought, ‘That’s pretty bloody clever what you’ve done’, because I’m vain.  I was vain even then!

And then I thought, ‘If you’re clever enough to have done all that: well, it’s the waste of a good mind’.

Lewis: I can just imagine you saying that.

Morse: No-one can imagine someone else’s pain, Robbie.  It’s the human tragedy.

But I made a vow, I wouldn’t forget.  I would never forget how awful it is to be fifteen.

I’ve forgotten, of course, everyone does. But I’ve been trying to remember.

The words of a television character in 1992 have been of more help than anything coming from the church – perhaps that’s my own fault.

“Bring him home” is a reminder of unspoken pain. But how shall people speak unless there is someone to talk to them?

Listen to them, please.

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  1. It is not always easy but we need to keep channels open at all times.

  2. Ah 20 is too too young. Sometimes listening to the silence is what it takes. What’s not said. I am very fortunate to have an open and friendly relationship with both my children, in good times and in bad. Terrible thing Ian to have to listen to that tune and have it remind you of such sadness.

  3. A timely reminder, Ian

    With two members of the family in the Irish Coast Guard organisation, I’m all too aware that sadly, Christmas can be one of the busiest times of the year for search parties.

    The present economic downturn does not bode well either.

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