Are we grieving for more than the Queen?


Grief can creep up on you when you least expect it. A sound, a smell, a piece of music or a half-familiar face can bring a wave of sadness on a sunny day.

The death of the Queen, and the bereavement that many of us are experiencing, has brought out a range of profound emotions in the UK and around the world.

I found singing 'God save the King' for the first time to be deeply moving, so much more than I had expected. I was acknowledging, in music and song, that the Queen had really left us.

People attending cathedrals and other places of worship are signing books of condolences, leaving messages showing their love and respect for a woman who was part of their lives for so many years.

Many of us are feeling a deep loss, but also gratitude for all that the Queen was. Giving thanks for her life of service, her ability to connect with a wide range of people and her unique position in public life for more than seven decades.

As a Christian minister, I give thanks too for the faith that was so important to her – and about which she was willing to speak so openly.

But I wonder if, in mourning the death of this remarkable woman, we are also mourning some of our own losses?

Could our current mourning be tapping into the sadness that many of us carry because of the death of a loved one, either recently or many years in the past?

An 'Art of Grieving' exhibition, that closed recently at my local gallery, showed how a range of people used art, music and crafts to come to terms with their loss. People grieve in all kinds of ways.

The Queen's funeral may well prompt a further outpouring of sadness, as men and women connect with their own grief – perhaps going back decades – as well as mourning Queen Elizabeth.

Each November, many churches hold special memorial services for those who have been bereaved. They give an opportunity for people to say a prayer, perhaps light a candle, and remember a loved one, maybe many years after their death.

They are services that are often much valued in their communities, as people are 'given permission' and an opportunity to mourn and to remember.

Whenever I take funerals, I quote the words of Jesus, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." It's because I believe firmly that faith in God, the promise of eternal life and the knowledge of Jesus Christ dying and rising from the dead, can bring light into the deepest darkness.

It's the faith that our dear departed Queen Elizabeth held to so closely throughout her life.

Rev Peter Crumpler is Associate Minister at St Paul's Church, Fleetville, St Albans.