The importance of hope….

Today I attended the Beat dedication service at Southwark Cathedral.

It remembered those whose lives had been taken by an eating disorder, and reached out to those who were left behind.

It acknowledged the wide circle of friends, families, carers, professionals, colleagues, lovers, mothers, fathers and siblings that the shadow of eating disorders extends over.

It remembered those who are still fighting.

And those who are now well.

Those who are now well.

I nearly chickened out at the last minute. It felt obscene to go to a dedication service when I was one of the “lucky” ones. I worried that my sorrow was exaggerated; after all, I could not imagine how those who were mourning a lost life felt.

I went.

I went because it has been tugging on my mind for the past month. Because it could have been me. Because I wanted to align myself against eating disorders. Because, despite the distance I maintained from other sufferers during my own illness, the empathy has become overwhelming and I feel myself increasingly stretching out.

This empathy encircled the service. As much as it was filled with a deep deep sorrow and the sense of devastation, it was also characterised by generosity and love. I expected the former; the latter caught me off guard –

There are so many people fighting against eating disorders. So many people whose lives have been directly or indirectly touched who are standing up and telling their story, or his story, or her story. Who speak sensitively and insightfully and expose eating disorders for what they really are. So many professionals and advocates and carers who are desperately trying to help.

It is a hard battle to fight.

It is sometimes an unfair one.

I have, I am beginning to recognise, been incredibly lucky.

Today’s service acknowledged the tragedy; but, in the compassion, and the coming together, and the determination to keep fighting and caring and sharing and trying to make sense of it all, it also inspired – and has left me with – an unexpected sense of hope.

Eating disorders can be beaten.

And each story really counts.

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7 Responses to “The importance of hope….”

  1. Becky says:

    Good for you.
    I think hope is important to everyone, especially those who may be facing a struggle. When you have hope you a reason to do better and to be better, when hope is taken away — you don’t have much left.
    Thanks for this post.

  2. Kat says:

    I was seriously considering going, especially as i am due to start as one of Beat’s young ambassadors, i know several of their members and unfortunately i have known several people who have died due to their eating disorder and many more who have come terrifyingly close. I(n fact i am currently working with my local partnership trust going into schools to try and dispel some of the myths and educate young people about how truly painful, destructive, damaging and potentially fatal EDs are.

    I am so thankful though that people like you keep fighting and keep shouting about the dangers and what needs to be done to change the system, i love reading your blog and tweets, you seem so mindful and so wise and they fill me with hope.

  3. James says:

    Beautiful and poignant. Eating disorders are devastating, tragic and lethal and we need to remember that. I’m just glad that – beyond awareness – compassion, togetherness, strength and hope came out of today’s service.

    Thank you for sharing such inspiring and touching thoughts, Melissa. Thank you for offering the message of hope. :) x

  4. magicplum says:

    Made me cry. Beautifully written hun. x

  5. Lola Snow says:

    Plum beat me to it. I’m also crying. Thank you for the reminder, Melissa. I can’t think of anything to say, I think you said it all. Lucky in the strangest way.

    Lola x

  6. Melissa says:

    Hi Kat,
    I don’t think the devastation that eating disorder causes can ever become less shocking. It sounds like you’re doing really brave and important stuff. Thanks for your lovely comments – Tuesday reaffirmed that we need to keep reaching out and talking – I hadn’t realised how much I wanted to be part of that fight.
    Take care. xx

  7. Melissa says:

    Thanks for commenting guys. It means a lot.

    *group hug*

    Has been an emotional week and it is hard to think of the right words.

    xx