Issue #270 / January 2024

Not a question at all.

On Sat the 30 December my beautiful 16yo son Murray took his own life. He was contacted online by what he believed was a girl he knew. He was extorted and then panicked, hanging himself. He was a wonderful guy who drew beautifully, played guitar and was a straight A student. He was private person and hated being the centre of attention. His world would have crashed around him at the thought of sexual pictures with his peer group. Our hearts are broken, literally agony.

The song we have chosen for the reflection piece at his funeral on Friday in the Cathedral is Distant Sky. In that space it should sound magnificent. I certainly hope so.

In writing this it helps to feel the reality of where we are as a family. We will keep going but fuck me it’s hard.


Dear Mark,

As confronting and difficult as it is to read, I am printing your letter in full. I receive letters like this all too often – each carrying its uniquely special heartbreak and each with its own tragic details, but all uniformly unjust and desperately sad. They course unabated through The Red Hand Files, in all their enormity, like a great sorrowing river. Your letter will be difficult for anyone to read, but it will also take many of us back, with a shudder of recognition, to our own times of sadness and loss.

We grievers know, Mark. We recognise in your letter the bottomless sorrow, the outrage, the desperation, the helplessness, the feelings of cosmic betrayal. We understand the sense of having nowhere to rest our minds that is not full of the darkest treachery. We know what its like to be confronted with the impossibility of a future life and the feeling that things will never be bearable again. Many of us also know the ghastly mechanics of planning the funeral of a child midst the zombied chaos of new grief. We know, Mark, and we are so very sorry.

But I want to say something, and even though it will doubtless mean little to you at this moment, I hope in time you will look back and know I spoke a kind of truth. Some years have now passed since the loss of my own sons, and though gone from this world, I have come to understand that they still travel with me – they are with me now – but more than that, they have become the active participants in a slow but certain awakening of the spirit. It saddens me deeply that they never lived their own full lives, but though I would give anything to have them back, these departed souls ultimately served as a kind of saving force that revealed the world to Susie and me as a thing of outrageous beauty. I have found my relationship to the world enriched in a way that I never dreamed possible. I know this to be true, but I also know it is a truth beyond understanding in your time of fresh grief, and so I say these things with extreme caution and pray it doesn’t come across as a kind of glibness uttered into your despair.

It seems like Murray was a beautiful young man, a sensitive and vital being, and these are the saddest and most hopeless days you will experience, but I want you and your family to know this – if you can just hold together, I believe that life will get better for you, in ways you cannot yet comprehend. One day you will find Murray travelling with you, not just as a grief or a memory, but as an animating and guiding principle, allowing you to experience joy in a way you have never experienced it before. Be kind and patient and gentle and merciful with one another. Stay close. Hold firm. Forgive. Grief prepares the way. Joy will in time find you. It is searching for you, in the impossible darkness, even now.

Love, Nick


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