‘A warning to all that we are not indestructible’

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‘The human body is a fragile thing’...that was the message at the funeral of a young teenager tragically killed in a raod traffic accident.

Speaking at the funeral of Craig McCook, Rev David Ferguson, Rector Parishes of Ramoan and Culfeightrin, Ballycastle said:

“There are occasions in life and death which make us cry out ‘why?’ and the circumstances we are dealing with today is such an occasion. Over and above the grief we feel with Craig’s death is the extra and anguished question, why did it happen in this way? What we are trying to come to terms with can shake our faith to its very foundations and leave us in a place where we may feel in some way abandoned by the God.

“I am sure that when each one of us heard the news of the tragic accident that was to take Craig’s life in a few days, we instinctively refused to believe it because here was a young man with everything to live for, blessed with great health and fitness.

“And I hope today Craig’s death will be a warning to all that we are not indestructible the human body is a fragile thing.

“As our hearts are broken today, so too God weeps with us. He doesn’t offer us cheap sympathy or meaningless platitudes, he simply offer us his comfort. He doesn’t give us answers, he gives us love and support and that may be something which will only make sense in the days which lie ahead.

“In the meantime God asks us to offer him the weight of our grief and the sacrifice of our tears and he will support us, because he is never nearer that when we are unable to pray for ourselves and when we have nothing else left to offer him but our emptiness and desolation.

“Those who have rallied around Jeremy, Alexia and Dwayne over these past days have been an immense tower of strength to them and please do continue to hold them in your prayers in the days which lie ahead.

“The family have asked me to publically thank all the staff in the intensive care unit in the Royal Victoria who care of Craig in his last days went far beyond what was expected of the staff it was indeed a labour of love.

“We all have so many special memories of Craig, as a Son, a brother a grandson a cousin a nephew a friend.

“He was a young man who lived life to its very fullest, packing in so much energy and activity into everything he turned his hand to. I get a sense that for Craig ‘the glass was always half full rather than half empty’.”

Paying tribute to Craig’s ‘nature to support’, Rev Ferguson continued: “From a very early age it was evident that it was in Craig’s nature to support those who needed it the underdog you might say.

“At 2 and half Craig thought some boys were picking on Dwayne so decided to chase them away with the brush shaft.

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“It was a trait he was to take into his teenage years as he supported many young people who were having difficulties in their lives always with that twinkle in his eye offering them support in practical ways.

“From an early age his passion was for being outside, firstly he loved tractors and nothing he liked better that to watch the tractors pass his house as they cut silage in the adjoining fields.

“He got his own toy tractor not any old tractor but a John Deere with the boiler suit to match.

“But then he noticed that the real tractors had cabs on them so his dad had to make a cab to fit the tractor with the obligatory flashing lights so that Craig could pretend he was cutting silage in his own garden.

“He even got his Grandad to build him a trailer.....

“Vehicles were to become such a passion in Craigs life. After leaving education Craig worked for a short time at Moy park in Ballymena but as a result of some conversations he had with his work colleagues his work interests were directed toward Butchery. Not an easy profession to get a apprenticeship in but not to be deterred Craig rang round as many butchers as he could in the area to see if they would take him on as an apprentice. He determination proved successful when he got a job at McKays Butchers in Ballycastle were I know he settled in quickly and he will be greatly missed from his workplace.

“But the people who will miss Craig the most are his family and friends. The twingle in his eye, the cheeky smile, his stories, his love of life and his love of all those around him. It is a testament to Craigs relationship with those who knew him that there are so many young people in church today.

“Craig had always things to do and people to see, On the go from 7am every morning he never sat down until late at night. He had large appetite I am told to keep those energy levels up always the joker there could have been what appeared to be a full packet of Jaffa cakes in the cupboard but on examination there weren’t many left the open end of the package had been turned to face inwards a little trick of Craig’s.

“Even on his days off he had to be busy perhaps cutting or strimming grass for some although I am told that he did try hedge cutting on an occasion which didn’t really work out but Craig’s response was it will grow again....

“As I said Craig was a half glass full man. He loved to socialise to be in peoples company, a kind and generous person who was part of a group of young people who raised funds for many different charities. That generosity was to continue even after his death as Craig had signed the Donor Register and a number of families are benefiting from his kindness

“There is no short-cut through the bereavement and the pain of loss that we feel today and our faith would not have us think that we can side step the loss we are feeling. However, we are assured that God understands our suffering and our loss and we can call on his help to strengthen and support us.

“The test of religion and our belief is its capacity to help us cope with the unfairness and absurdities of life. As human beings we struggle with the problems of sickness, suffering, tragedies, wars, disasters and sin. We also try to grapple with the problem of death. For all our scientific advancements, death is still a great mystery to us. As we struggle with the pain and hurt of bereavement today, we do know that love is stronger than death, as St Paul assures us who then can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship, or persecution, or hunger, or danger or death? No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us.

“When death comes, and for some it comes sooner rather than later in life, God is with us and is there with his plea that we should trust and love him and that we should believe in his spirit of consolation who enfolds us in his loving arms.

“Our faith tells us that in spite of the darkness we are sometimes called to enter on our journey through life, the road will end in the triumph of light and joy on the other side of this life when all will be revealed to us.

“The structure of our funeral liturgy is designed not only to give us a chance to express our sympathy and condolences with Craigs family, but it also to reminds us that death is not the end of the process. Death is not a full stop to our existence, it is but a comma, a pause. It is part of the process of moving from this side of life through to life in all its fullness in the nearer presence of a loving and merciful God who loves and cares for each of his children.

“Some day on the other side of this life we will have all the answers to the questions that are weighing heavily with us today.

“But this we do believe and this we know. Craig is at peace now. He is with God in a place where all things are made well and where all darkness is overcome. Slowly our pain, too, will be healed, and we will remember Craig embracing life to the full and laughing with the joy of it. And we will smile again at the memories we have of him and hold them in our hearts.”