Friends of Co Armagh schoolgirl Caitlin White who died suddenly at the weekend have been told the best way they can pay tribute to her is to “celebrate the life you have been gifted”.
Speaking at the funeral of the 15-year-old Craigavon Senior High School pupil in the filled-to-capacity Church of the Assumption in Newry, Father Damien Quigley told mourners of her “ability to build bridges”.
Caitlin grew up in Newry and had most recently been living in Laurelvale. She died in hospital after being found unconscious in woodland near Portadown’s Corcrain estate on Saturday evening.
Before Requiem Mass pupils from her former primary school in Newry formed a guard of honour.
Fr Quigley said: “No one who met her can say that they weren’t touched by her bubbly character, her ability to build bridges, her love of music and art.
“And yes, drawing the picture of the rest of her life has been stilled, the paintbrush is now at rest. The music seems to have fallen silent forever. But Caitlin would want you now to forge ahead and to begin to paint a new vibrant rainbow across the landscape of your lives, to write a new song that will echo into eternal life.
“And to Caitlin’s many friends who join with us today, you too are called to paint a new portrait, to sing a new song from now on.”
He added: “The greatest testimony that you can give to Caitlin is to celebrate the life you have been gifted, to turn away now from anything or anyone that might threaten that life and to celebrate Caitlin for how she lived.
“Every year, celebrate that life not on the anniversary of her death but on the anniversary of her life – October 16, her birthday.
“On that day, listen to her favourite music, share your stories with each other, eat a whole packet of chocolate digestives – I think she’d like that.
“Celebrate her life and remember the gift that you have been given.”
To Caitlin’s family he said: “You will never ‘get over’ the loss of Caitlin but, in time, you will get through this. You will find a new normal. You will never be the same but nor should you be the same. That’s not how it’s supposed to be.
“Caitlin is now with the Lord. If Caitlin is with Him and He is with us, then she is never far away.”
Police investigating Caitlin’s death have said a possible link to drugs is one line of inquiry. Three males have been arrested, questioned and released on bail.