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This is a special kind of sorrow

The country is in mourning for a monarch that has for many of us been part of the fabric of our entire lives.

Many of us know how it feels to lose our own parents and grandparents and recognise grief.

Yet this may be a different kind of sorrow. Not just that we weren’t personally acquainted with our Queen on a day-to-day basis, but that this a grief that has less personal pain. And for that, it may prove cathartic. I think it is for me.

What is this personal pain? Apart from a gaping hole in our lives on the loss of a loved one, some of us are also living with anger, and many with guilt.

Over the last few years we’ve endured an extraordinary set of circumstances during the pandemic that has cut many of us off from our loved ones at a time when we needed to be together most. Social distancing rules and the precautions taken in care homes have meant that being with family members in their last days, weeks and months has been difficult, if not impossible. It’s no wonder that grief is accompanied by anger.

For even more of us, and I include myself in this, our sorrow is magnified by guilt. We feel we should have tried harder to make the end of life better.

In my case we lived with my mother’s dementia for several years, and she died an almost total stranger in a care home. I had turned from close friend to enemy in my mother’s mind, and we lost the ability to communicate. When she passed away it was hard to remember back to the good times, and none of us made a good job of saying goodbye to the mother she had once been. I should have risen above my own feelings and made her end of life better.

And while my father had a happier ending, we still managed to have a rare argument the last time I saw him. Moreover, I was on holiday when he passed away unexpectedly a few days later. That is a whole bagful of guilt to carry.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way about the loss of my parents. Grief with the added bonus of ‘Should have done better’.

That’s why I am feeling good about the sadness I feel on the death of the Queen. It was a good death. She lived a long life, was cared for by the best, and departed the world surrounded by the people that loved her. I don’t need to be angry. I don’t need to feel guilt. I can just genuinely mourn.

It often helps to talk

The charities Marie Curie and Sue Ryder both offer bereavement support in times of loss.

We also have some articles we hope might help:



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