Following the death of Queen Elizabeth, there was a sombre mood in much of the country and around the world. We knew she was frail but her death still came as a shock. Many were surprised at their emotion given they barely knew her or didn’t support the monarchy. Now that the period of national mourning has ended, I find myself reflecting on the past ten days or so.

Her influence

As is often the case when someone dies, memories and stories are shared. It has been lovely hearing about the influence our Queen had on people’s lives. From the multiple TV interviews with people who had met her, it was clear that she was someone who made them feel special. She affirmed them, by taking an interest in them and their lives and by showing that she cared. She made people feel important by the way she spoke to them and listened. She helped to highlight much of the great work that is being done behind the scenes. Her visits to towns, cities, the charities she supported and other organisations uplifted people’s spirits, especially in dark times. When she spoke to the nation, during Covid, she helped to encourage many people and to give them hope. Her belief in forgiveness played a significant role in reconciling the island of Ireland. Her meetings with leaders from around the world gave her a far-reaching influence.

A constitutional monarchy means that the Monarch doesn’t have power to govern but is there to serve its people. The Queen genuinely cared about the people of this country and the Commonwealth. She didn’t need to be liked by ‘her people’ and  wasn’t trying to achieve political gain. She knew her role was to serve and she did it to the best of her ability throughout her reign.

For the period of national mourning, we were celebrating the good in people and their achievements. The usual bad and sad news stories were largely forced to take a back seat. Instead, we were hearing about the positive impact of the Queen in people’s lives and the wonderful work being done by so many. Despite hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets at various times, I heard no reports of fights breaking out. They were chatting to each other, sharing stories, helping each other, crying together and finding new friendships.

Grief and Covid

The Queen’s death, coming so soon after the worst of the Covid pandemic, has been therapy in itself. During lockdown, people were isolated from society and kept away from those they loved. Close contact and touch were discouraged. Contrast that with the coming together we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks.  People have been re-connecting with loved ones, neighbours and friends.  They’ve also been connecting with strangers. Laughing and crying together, hugging and holding hands. During the pandemic, so many people lost loved ones, often in desperate circumstances. The restrictions on funerals meant they were unable to share their grief and support each other. The Queen’s death provided a public forum for grief, where it could be expressed openly and safely. Much of the repressed grief of the pandemic has now had an outlet, enabling healing to start.

Take home messages

Whilst people’s thoughts on the Monarchy vary, there are important take home messages from the Queen’s life and death. Life is hard in a great many ways, especially at the moment. We have a choice in how we behave towards others. Kindness, encouragement and compassion have the power to transform someone’s day. It is important to listen, to show that we are listening and to speak encouraging words. Even our difficult conversations, let’s try to do them kindly.  Making our interactions with people a positive experience is beneficial to them and also to us. When we do wrong, let’s find the courage to say sorry. When someone hurts us, let’s try to forgive them, however hard it may feel.  Amidst the negative news stories, let’s hunt out the positive ones. There is so much being done in our country and around the world which is worthy of celebration and gratitude.

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