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Our Practical Ministry Lecturer, David Wright, helps us respond to the death of Philip Hughes.

  

I can identify with the grief surrounding the death of Philip Hughes. A generation of players earlier, I had played at the same cricket club. Just the other night, the TV news interviewed the club spokesman – he was my tough as nails wicketkeeper. This was the world I was part of. 

  

How do we respond to our collective grief? What sort of grief is it? “A young man struck down in his prime” grief? A “he died doing what he loved” grief? The shock of “it happened on the field” grief? Yes, I think these are all real aspects of it.

 

I wonder though if what we're grappling with is "profile grief". Let me explain. Hughes' death has a big impact on us because he is a high profile person. An international cricketer. In Australia, you don't get much higher profile (or respect) than that. So while the grief we feel is real, it is the grief of spectators. It is grief we identify with but are not so much a part of. It's like the tragic situation of the girl who died after being thrown from a ride at the Royal Adelaide Show in September. The incident got profile, we identified, we grieved.

  

But "profile grief" is different to the grief of participants. I've sat beside lots of people as they've buried their loved ones – the family whose mum had courageously fought cancer; the parents whose little girl died in child birth; the mum whose son had died of a heart attack in his sleep. The sobbing tears, stoic faces, disbelief, heartache – all so very real in the face of loss. The grief of those in caught in the middle of facing death. The grief of participants. And for the vast bulk of participants, there is no profile. Just earthy, heart breaking grief.

  

So I think it's important to distinguish between "profile grief" and the grief of participants. It's Hughes' family and those close to him that grieve as participants. Michael Clarke is an example of a participant who also has a profile. For most of us though, we grieve Phil Hughes as spectators because he had a profile. So we need to be careful about being swept along thinking our grief is somehow the same as those close to Hughes.

  

In responding to Hughes' death, I am also reminded of C.S. Lewis' words that "pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world". Hughes' death taps into our national identity – the death of a cricketer in Australia! But even young, talented, cheeky grinned cricketers are not invincible. I may be wrong, but I just wonder, is God trying to shout out to Australia "Life is fragile. Stop ignoring me as your creator."

  

For those who follow Jesus, we have so much to offer at this point. We comfort the grieving. We serve the heart broken. And we point them to Jesus, the one who is more powerful than death. For we do not grieve as those without hope.