Loving tributes have been paid to popular Derry woman Michelle Gray (nee Mullan), who passed away last week after a long illness.
Michelle died peacefully at Spruce House, Altnagelvin Hospital, on February 13. A devoted mother of two sons aged 16 and 6, she was aged 45.
Speaking on behalf of the family, her brother Martin Mullan, said they had been overwhelmed by the kindness and support from the local community.
Mr Mullan, well-known in the city for his support for charitable causes, said: “On behalf of my mum and dad, Gemma and Barney, my sister Moya, my brother-in-law Jonathan and nephews Blake and Troy, and all Michelle’s extended family, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people that took the time to comfort and help us during the loss of my sister. The people in our city are well known for their kindness and they proved this to our family.
“Michelle had struggled for many years with Lupus. However it was after falling seriously ill in October that Michelle initially received great care from the Intensive Care staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.
“She then received great care from the Intensive Care staff and Ward 1 staff of Altnagelvin Hospital and her final few weeks in Spruce House saw her receive excellent care and encouragement from all the staff there.
“We can never repay the health staff for their kindness over and above the call of duty. Michelle had been improving daily and her death was a great shock to all. We believe that the prayers from family and friends from all around the world undoubtedly helped Michelle and we were fortunate enough to have this short time to tell her how proud we were of her and how much we loved her. Michelle may be gone for the moment but never forgotten.
“We have been overwhelmed by all the sincere letters, telephone calls, texts and emails from all around the world. We are grateful to all who helped us give Michelle a great send-off, from the flowers, the food, the cups of tea, the beautiful singing and beautiful service and of course the words of comfort that have meant so much to all of us. Please continue to pray for Michelle and for our family at this difficult time of sorrow.”
Michelle’s cousin, Sister Deirdre Mullan, based at the United Nations in New York, also spoke poignantly about the inspirational woman.
Sr Deirdre said: “She died as she lived, surrounded by love. Michelle battled her illness with gentleness and grace. Her focus was always on the “other” - never herself! She and Jonathan lived for their two boys - Blake and Troy. And, they had every right to be proud. Her older son told me recently - ‘I want a great career but not to make lots of money but, to leave this world a better place’ - now isn’t that testimony to the values of great parenting?
“Michelle was a modern day saint. She was mischievous, compassionate, generous, very funny, a loving wife, a great mother, a much loved sister and a very special daughter and probably one of the most ‘other centered’ and generous people I have ever known.
“Michelle, although your stay with us was all too brief, and we will miss the sunshine of your smile, and that twinkle in your eye, you will live on in our lives when we enter each day with kind hearts looking out for those who need a helping hand and by serving our call with compassion and courage. You taught those of us who were privileged to know you what is most important in life - a gentle kindness towards all.
“May you continue to inspire us from that place within where you will forever live in the hearts and minds of those who loved you. Until we meet again....”
Michelle’s funeral was held at St Eugene’s Cathedral on Monday, with interment afterwards in Ballyoan Cemetery.