I am aware as I read so much of what has been written about Dean that he was someone who made an impression on the lives of many members of the Gang over two Shows.
He was not a saint! None of us are; and there is no doubt that he generated a fair number of challenges which those who knew him – and particularly those who loved him – found testing. As we think of him in this time of mourning, let’s remember him as a multifaceted human being: like us, with good points and bad points, endearing and frustrating personality traits and behaviours. These after all, are the things which made him human, and which shaped the person we came to know and care about.
Some of the people who have written were his mates, and coming to terms with what has happened will be hard for them – teenage guys think they’re bulletproof. So let’s spare them a thought in the days ahead. Others knew him well – at School, at Gym, in Scouting, and in some of the courses he attended in more recent times; still others confess to hardly knowing him but realising the tragedy of so much unfulfilled potential. Closest of all, and deepest affected are his family, and to them our hearts and prayers go out at this time of deepest sadness.
Three things follow from here.
Many will metaphorically “beat themselves up”, asking themselves the “what if” kind of question – what if I’d done this or that; would it have made a difference? In situations such as this, it is not fair to blame yourself, as none of us can fully enter another person’s mind and completely understand what drives them. So no, the probability is that whatever you may or may not have done differently is unlikely to have affected the outcome we face at present, and blaming yourself is not reasonable.
There will come a time when people will feel angry – some in general, and some with Dean himself, and then guilt themselves out for feeling it – but anger is a real human emotion like others, and if Dean had meant nothing to you, you would not be angry. So being angry is okay, and eventually it will pass.
And finally, as Mike has already said, if there is anything to be drawn from this sad event, it is that you (and we) are not alone; and that in the end reaching out to another is not a sign of weakness but a sign of trust, of fellowship, of the common humanity we all share. We can be there for each other. We can believe some of the words we have sung together with Dean, and help to make sure that we lose no more of our friends – or, if we’re feeling that darkness within ourselves, we’ll take the thoughts seriously and seek the love and care of others with whom we have shared a part of life’s journey:
Glowing deep in all our hearts Flame joins to Flame
And the fire of love keeps burning bright;
Bringing warmth to ev’ryone, we’re just the same,
And the darkness flies at the growing light . . .
Honour, Trust, and Loyalty are still our call –
We can show the path, yeah, light the way;
You can come along with us, yes, one and all,
To a better world, a brighter day.
A man named Robert Fulghum wrote these words – and others; (you can read them on his website)
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge,
That myth is more potent than history,
That dreams are more powerful than facts
That hope is able to triumph over experience,
That laughter and time are the only cure for grief,
And I believe that love is stronger than death.
May Dean rest in peace and rise in glory.
Yours in this Gang we share,
Following Dean’s funeral, Chil wrote…
Just a note to record my deep thanks and appreciation to all members of the Gang – Cast, Crew, and Team who came to support Dean’s family, friends, and each other at the funeral the on Tuesday. I was so proud of all of you – for your bearing, your depth of feeling, and the respectful way in which you handled our small part in the proceedings. I have had a number of communications to the effect that the Guard of Honour we provided was an electrifying and yet profoundly personal way for us to say our final farewell.
It is sad that one of the last voices we heard was that of a young man who obviously blamed himself and felt some personal responsibility for Dean’s death, especially as every person up until then had stressed that whatever our individual regrets might be, no-one bears responsibility for tragedies of this kind: you can only be yourself the best way you can, give the circumstances and the understandings you have at the time.
In our own individual way, we can keep the memories we have of Dean at his best fresh and alive. We can learn from what we have experienced together in these sad days, and realize that we are supported and surrounded by a much larger group of inter-related people than we ever thought possible. And we can be sure that the feeling of being alone in this world and surrounded by crowds of people who don’t understand or care is a fallacy and an illusion, often a self-imposed one.
So as we move on into the future, may we know that there are people who are there for us, who have “got our back”: in our families, in the Gang, in Scouting, at School, in so many ways and so many places where people’s lives are linked with ours. And let us be glad for this knowledge, and reach out with our own caring to make this seemingly abstract idea a warm and human reality for each and every one of us.
May Dean rest in peace, and rise in glory.
Blessings and Peace to you all.