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  • Writer's pictureJackie Thomson

The death of a Monarch; Grief and Loss

"Grief is the price we pay for love."

I had intended writing a completely different blog this time but I couldn’t settle to it, nothing seemed to come out which made sense to me. And I wondered why that was.

Then I realised it’s because what I needed to be writing about right now is grief and loss. That is what’s on many people’s minds at the moment, following the death of our longest-serving Queen, Elizabeth II.

There is nothing in this life more certain than death, yet seeing the news as it came through on Thursday was a shock.

Knowing it’s inevitable doesn’t make it any easier when it happens

Yes, I know she was 96 and, yes, I realised that her 70 years’ reign was nothing short of a miracle, but still it’s a shock when it actually happens.

I remember this well from when my dad was terminally ill, spending the last few days of his life in the hospice with him, knowing that he was going to die. It didn’t lessen the pain and shock of his death at all.

So, hearing the news made me emotional. I felt sad. I also felt a little fearful because I’d only ever known this one Queen for the whole of my life. She became Queen before I was born. Now we have a King, what will happen? What will change?

And I don’t care whether you’re a royalist or not. I don’t care what you think about the monarchy. Your thoughts and beliefs are your own. All I know is that I was not alone in my grief. There was a stunned silence in our kitchen for a while as we each took in the news in our own way. There was a huge national outpouring of sadness, numbness, even disbelief that it’s happened.

Grief is personal. And it hits us when we least expect it. It may bring back memories of your own loss. I know people who’ve lost someone close very recently who are distraught right now. In reality, it doesn’t matter how long ago it was, we may still be reminded as though it was yesterday.

As the Queen herself said on the death of her beloved husband, Prince Philip, in April last year, "Grief is the price we pay for love."

It's okay not to be okay

However much it affects each one of us, whatever memories it brings back, it’s all ok. You may feel tearful watching TV coverage, you may feel emotional in the quiet times, you may find yourself crying at the drop of a hat. It’s all okay. Your feelings are valid, just the same as everyone else’s.

So now we have a State Funeral coming up. To some it will mean just an extra day off work or school, for many others it will be much more. A chance to pay your own respects in your own way as you follow the TV coverage of the occasion from wherever you are. Maybe you have no idea what it will mean to you yet, and that’s okay too.

One thing is for sure though, and that is many of us will shed a tear or two. If that is you, don’t hold those tears back, let them fall. Don’t be embarrassed. If you’re worried that anyone will think less of you – British stiff upper lip and all that – don’t be. You are human, you have emotions, and you’re allowed to express them in a way that helps you. Safely of course. But a few tears never hurt anyone. It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

And if you’re worried about the family, the children seeing you cry, don’t be. Let them comfort you for a moment if they want to, let them see that feelings are nothing to be afraid of. Maybe they’ll learn a little about compassion and empathy, and if they’re old enough to understand maybe they’ll have their own tears too.

Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Anyone who doesn’t cry may be feeling the pain as deeply as anyone else, they just have a different way of showing it.

Grief is not just about death

Of course, we may encounter grief at other times in our lives, not just when someone dies. We may experience the grief when we know someone is going to die; anticipatory grief. It may be due to the loss of a pet. It may be after divorce or the end of a relationship, especially if it’s not your choice. It may be about losing a job, or retirement, or loss of financial stability. It may be around selling the family home or even the loss of a home. It could be after miscarriage or discovering that you can’t have the children you’d hoped for. Or the menopause. Or the children leaving home. And I’m sure there are many more I can’t even think of right now.

We are all unique

It’s normal to grieve loss, and everybody’s journey through grief is as unique as we all are. There’s lots of information out there about the however many stages of grief, and there are many myths around the best way to ‘get rid of grief’ and how long it should take. I’m not even going to go into those now, because I believe the grieving process is as individual as you are.

Whatever type of loss you’ve suffered, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and no set timetable. Whether it takes weeks, months or even years, it’s important to be patient with yourself.

One thing we can all do though, however overwhelming it may feel, is to face the feelings and express them safely. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel. Don’t even tell yourself how to feel or how you should feel. Acknowledge your pain. In time you’ll be able to come to terms the loss, find a new normal and eventually move on.

In the meantime, try carry on with your life as normally as you can, don’t make any major decisions, and look after your physical health. And if you need help reach out to someone who cares about you, or a professional who can help you navigate the process.

Little by little we let go of loss, but never of love. One day we will remember how lucky we were to have known their love with wonder, not grief.

To find out how HypnoWellbeing solutions can help you with grief and loss

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