We were mid-way through our starters when we heard the news.
I’d cooked a birthday meal for a friend, we were happily catching up and chatting about our day. We’d briefly covered the Queen being ill and both agreed that ‘she’d be fine’. Yes, the family had gone to see her, but surely it was just a precaution, better safe than sorry. I recalled the time the nursing home had called our family and suggested we rally to be by my grandmother’s bedside for her final moments, only to dash there and find her sat up in bed eating chocolate, thoroughly bemused at our panicked, late-night arrival.
Either way, my friend said, ‘I don’t like it’, the idea of her being ill and what that could mean, so many implications. I got up to check the oven, the radio gently playing in the background when it suddenly fell silent mid-song, we looked at each other. We knew. Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II had died peacefully aged 96.
Stunned, I rang my mum. My friend rang her husband. I imagine there were a lot of phone calls that night, as a collective wave of emotion swept the nation. Everything from shock, sadness, grief, worry, disbelief, to confusion, and even fear. And there was also anger, indifference, and bemusement, what was all the fuss about anyway? old ladies die every day.
Royalist or not, whether you ‘care’ or not, there’s no denying that it made millions of us stop in our tracks and look inward.
Many people used the national period of mourning to look at their own lives, reflecting on the evolving world we share and just how quickly and radically things can change.
Just two days after officially appointing the new Prime Minister Liz Truss at Balmoral Castle the Queen was dead, having dedicated 70 years of service. How many of us could have envisaged that.
Not only were tears shed for the nations Queen, but they were also for loved ones closer to home, who had passed, and memories of times gone by. Grief can creep up on us anytime and anywhere, often at the least expected moment. I heard a lot of people say that they felt “weird” or “out of sorts” after they heard the news, it had stoked long forgotten feelings and brought them crashing, unexpectedly to the surface.
If you’re feeling out of sorts or a bit bewildered, that’s understandable, and probably a little bit inevitable. It’s difficult not to be melancholy, particularly with the shorter days and darker night’s drawing in which can contribute to low mood, and the road to Christmas in sight, which in of itself can stir-up a depth of emotion.
Take a little comfort for yourself, that might be in a religious setting, going for a walk, meeting friends for a cuppa and a chat, simply lighting a candle, and holding the ones you love in your minds eye. Do whatever it takes to get through this time with lots of self-care. And if you’re fortunate enough not to be affected by grief or the recent events, remember that lots of people are, and your compassion and kindness can help lift them up.
Shannon Humphrey is a First Aid for Mental Health Instructor she works with clients privately and organisations who care about their colleague’s wellbeing.