Elisha Gault’s all too brief life was honoured by family and friends in Piltown on Thursday last, four days after the search for the Comeragh College student ended in the most heart-breaking of outcomes.
The discovery of her body on March 25th represents every parent’s worst nightmare, the crushing finality of which will leave questions may well remain unanswered for all the years that lie ahead of those who knew and loved her best.
And while their lives will go on, though such a thought may feel alien to many for some time to come, Elisha’s has shockingly ended, before exams, before a Debs Ball and before all the great adventures that lie beyond school and home, had come close to materialising. It should not have been like this.
Posting on Facebook in the wake of last Sunday’s discovery, her devastated mother Grainne wrote: “My gorgeous beautiful Elisha had a genuine soul but she was a troubled girl, for reasons I won’t discuss at this moment in time. She had a very loving family, friends and Edge Youth Diversion Project who did their utmost to heal and support her but unfortunately we were unsuccessful.
“I have a hole in my heart that will never be filled, we had the funniest moments as did anyone who knows her, she was her own person and I just wish we had the answer that could have gave her inner strength.”
At Elisha’s Requiem Mass, chief celebrant and Parish Priest, Paschal Moore was acutely aware, perhaps in a way he’d never been previously, even when addressing other tragedies, that his words would carry even greater weight on this particular occasion.
He knew that the congregation before him would be heavily populated by girls and boys in and around Elisha’s age, some of whom maintained the grace and composure to join the local choir when singing throughout the Funeral.
“It’s a sad morning for the family, for her schoolmates in the Comeragh College, staff at the college, for the community in Carrick and for all her friends as we pray for her today, we remember to pray also for you,” were his opening comments.
“Every funeral is sad, every departure brings its sorrows, but today nothing can compare to the grief, the searing grief, that Elisha’s family are now experiencing. So our thoughts and our prayers are for them on this very, very sad morning.”
The Bible and Cross were then placed on Elisha’s coffin, in front of which lay a white and blue floral tribute decorated by her nickname, ‘Egg’. Personal symbols of Elisha’s, including a phone and book, were also placed on the altar.
“Elisha’s death has given rise to many emotions, emotions the family have experienced and the community have experienced over the last number of days: disbelief, shock, anger, guilt, even abandonment,” said Fr Moore as be began his homily.
“Elisha’s death has raised many questions but hasn’t given many answers. This morning we want to really and truly empathise with this family, the Gault and Moore family, because they have been robbed of their loving daughter. They have been robbed of her youthful enthusiasm and her joy and her smile. They have been deprived of her gentle presence and her good humour. There is an emptiness, a void that no-one can fill this morning for them. All we can do is be present to you this morning and invite you to lean on us, yes we want to be a shoulder you can lean on.”
Praying for a “healing time” for the grief-stricken family, Fr Moore continued: “Many people today will have opinions and views regarding Elisha’s death, but your opinion doesn’t matter and neither does mine. What matters is God. A God who sees and knows the whole picture of Elisha’s short life.
Elisha’s outward appearance and behaviour were masked by an air of hopelessness within. She felt trapped. She was a prisoner of her feelings and her thoughts which weighed heavily on her and she was in turmoil, a turmoil we could never appreciate or understand.”
He added: “Elisha, she took the only route she felt she could take. She took the only route she felt she could take. Not the right route, not the right choice, but it was the only route that she felt she could take, and her actions have left her family, her community, her schoolfriends, devastated and completely, utterly upset and confused. With God this morning she is sweeter, sweeter than she has ever been. We pray that she is at peace today.”
Fr Moore then turned his attention to the friends of Elisha Gault when offering a “few special words”.
“We all have our worries; our stresses and our anxieties and stress can be hopeless. The problem arises when our anxiety takes over every moment of our lives. This morning, boys and girls, I would like to offer you a leaflet at the end of the church, it’s called My Support Network and we all need support, every one of us needs support from the oldest to the youngest of us. We need people who will listen, people who will talk to us, people who will be a shoulder to lean on. Today, boys and girls, I would encourage you to form a support network around yourselves. I would encourage you also to turn off your iPhone every now and again. Facebook is wonderful at times and people boast about how many friends they have on Facebook, but your friends on Facebook are artificial friends. What you need are real people around you real, genuine, caring people and I would encourage you, every one of you, to find a real, good support network for yourselves.”
Said Fr Moore: “We’ve just completed here in the parish a little workshop called Your Mind Matters – your mind is so important. We had 20 young people, teenagers, who did this course and it covered topics like peer pressure, resilience, exam stress. It was a wonderful success and I just want to let you know that if any of you would like to do this workshop just contact me at any time and we can organise this wonderful workshop that has been prepared by the Ossory Youth Project in Kilkenny. This morning we commend beautiful Elisha to almighty God, we pray that she is at peace and that she is sweeter than she has ever been.”
Elisha Gault is survived by her parents Grainne Gault and Cameron Moore, along with sisters Chloe, Bhrianna and Saoirse. May she Rest In Peace.