In this post I reflect on my own experience of grief and loss. We all experience loss differently but there can also be many similarities in our experiences in the unfolding process of grief. I wonder how the loss of The Queen impacted on you?
I was in a supermarket car park, in my car on the afternoon when I heard the news that Her Majesty The Queen was not well. “Oh no! ” My heart sank. I prayed that she would get better, but I knew the signs were not good. Even so, I looked for alternative explanations which were as positive as possible. I was searching for some hope to hold on to. Looking for something I could do to stop the worst from happening. The feeling of back pedalling on a bicycle; doing something to reverse the situation but actually it does nothing at all.
The Queen had always been there. A calming presence. Dutiful. Role model. Stateswoman. She looked out for us. A keeper of knowledge, experience and wisdom. Living history. Mother figure. I remember as a young child looking at a photograph and being uncertain if the smiling face I was looking at was my mother or The Queen.
Then the news that she had died. I hoped we would have had a few more years yet. It seemed very quick and unexpected. Feeling cheated. Sadness that a person’s life had come to an end and their race was now finished. When would my own race finish? Feelings of loss; like some of my energy had been sucked out. Feeling like my tyres had gone a bit flat.
One of my ‘safety nets’ and constants had departed. Throughout my life I had glimpses of The Queen; on TV and off. She had been woven into the fabric of life and part of many of my family memories. Maybe it was a relatively thin thread, but certainly made of gold. I never met her. I was one of many who she had seen and waved to from a distance, but it felt like I knew her, and she knew and accepted me, without question or criticism. A very safe and comforting relationship.
I was feeling part of a collective sadness. Others spoke of their own feelings about what The Queen meant to them resonating with my own. For me, the length of her life connected us to past times and the great figures from the past. Losing her seemed to lose that connection, making it seem more distant and the future more divorced from roots of stability. A fear of what the future might hold.
The period of mourning; the lying in state, low level feelings of melancholy setting a tone to my daily life and the feeling of being “in limbo” while the funeral was planned. Taking time out to watch the ceremony on TV and allowing myself to feel really sad. Reminders of the losses of other loved ones in my life and feeling connected to those people once again. Seeing The Queen coming home to Windsor, up the Long Walk towards the Castle, was the most poignant moment for me.
The day after the funeral; an emotional hangover of dullness. My surprise to experience the relief and ‘back to normality’ feelings on the second day after the funeral.
It’s another reminder of my journey through life towards death, and what it’s like to know that I will leave and life will go on without me. Questions about what sort of legacy will I leave behind? How do I make the best of what life remains? That’s the really hard part to figure out.