Charles Cousins, a Commercial Traveller employed to sell the products of his company, married a widow, Emma Osmund Moore, in 1849 at St Martin in the Fields, and by 1861 they were living in Camberwell, with their seven children: Emma Anne, aged 10, Charles, aged 9, Ada Lydia, aged 8, Walter Stephen, aged 5, Frederick Sydney, aged 2, and twins Elizabeth Caroline and Edward, aged 4 months. Unfortunately for both Charles and the children, Emma Osmund Cousins died in 1867, aged 49, leaving Charles with the children, the oldest of whom would have been 17; and, as a commercial traveller, Charles may well have been away much of the time. Was that what prompted him to marry again? this time to another Emma who was not much older than his oldest daughter. The story gets vaguer after this. By 1871, the family were living in Croydon, where just Emma Anne, known as Annie, is found with her 3 youngest siblings. Charles (junior) and Walter I can find no further information on, although a Charles Cousins did die in Croydon in 1884, but there is not enough information to see if it is this Charles. Ada married Henry Keeble in 1877, and went on to have several children. Frederick went to India, where he married in 1887; he died in the 1920s. Emma Anne seems to have stayed at home; she and Edward are the only two children there in 1881, with Charles and his second wife. Elizabeth is living or staying with her paternal aunt and uncle in West Ham.
By 1891, however, Emma Anne’s life had moved on. She is found as a visitor with the Rocke family in Croydon, but it is her occupation that is most fascinating: Sister of Mercy, a nurse, called Sr Mary Emma. Now this does not go in the direction you might be anticipating. Sr Mary Emma was not a member of our community, and as I have not yet found her beyond 1891, I don’t know which Community she joined. It does add supporting evidence as the path her youngest sister’s life took. Sr Elizabeth Caroline, surname Cousins, made her vows in the Community of All Hallows in March 1888; she died in 1899, aged 39. I cannot find her in the 1891 census, so I have no idea of her birthplace and cannot prove that Charles Cousin’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth Caroline, was the Sr Elizabeth Caroline who joined our community. The only other piece of information I have about her is contained in one of M. Lavinia’s letters, where she says that Sr Elizabeth Caroline had gone to be with her brother who was dying. The only member of the Cousins family I can find in 1891 is Emma Anne. But does the fact that she was visiting friends in Croydon, where her family might still have been living, mean that she, too, was there to be with a dying brother, only there was not room for her to stay at home? Or is that unlikely, considering that she was a nurse? I cannot say for certain. All I know is that Edward Cousins was still living at home in 1881, a clerk to an oil merchant; and an Edward Cousins died aged 30 in Croydon in 1891. Does all this link together? possibly.
Sadly, there was another Cousins who also died in 1891: Emma Mary Cousins, born in 1849 died aged 42 in Croydon. This could well have been Charles’ second wife, who was around that age, and whose middle name began with M. Could Charles have possibly lost both wife and youngest son in the same year? having also lost his first wife after less than twenty years of marriage; and would go on to lose his youngest daughter in 1899, if I have identified the correct family? The potential grief that Charles and his family suffered in 1891 can only be imagined. For his children, not only did they see the death of their youngest brother (and we know it wasn’t sudden, as Sr Elizabeth Caroline had gone to be with him), but also their not much older than them stepmother, which could have been a complicated type of grief. Who knows how the older children viewed a stepmother, who was more or less their contemporary? For Emma Anne in particular, it may well have taken away some sense of her identity, as the oldest daughter, and the one who may well have looked after the household after their mother’s death. Or did it set her free to follow her own path? Except she seems to have stayed at home until her youngest siblings were grown.
What can we say about the grief another goes through? Each relationship is unique, and each will bring its’ own feelings, and each person will have their own journey. It is a journey that we all must go through, as those we love die, and we mourn and miss them. It can bring its own complicated feelings: not just the pain of bereavement, but numbness, anger and relief. If someone dies after much pain and suffering, there is no guilt in feeling relief that it is over. Who knows what kind of illness Sr Elizabeth Caroline’s brother went through, or how his family responded to his death? But even with relief can come the pain of mourning one who has gone before us. Those we love and miss are no longer here; but they have started on the next stage of their journey. For those of us who believe in the Resurrection, death is not the end, and however much we grieve, we can know that we all look forward to a life that has no ending, but only a deeper and truer living, as who we truly are joins with those others who are their true selves, and as we see no longer as in a mirror, but face to face (see 1 Corinthians 13) – for love never ends, and as all that is frail and failing in our love falls away, so we shall truly see Love never-ending.