How the Queen held space for our own grief

September 21, 2022

The crown, orb and scepter are removed, signaling the end of the Queen’s reign.

For many of us, Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral held deeply personal meaning.

Oh, we didn’t know her. And maybe she wasn’t our monarch. But nonetheless, we found the 10 days of national mourning and her funeral deeply moving. And here’s why, in the paraphrased words of one of the women clergy interviewed on BBC:

In death, the Queen served us all because her death and these moving rituals enabled us to allow our own grief, our own stories to resonate with this nation’s story of grief and mourning.  We felt them anew, or maybe even for the first time. We saw ourselves in the grief-etched faces of her children.

Her final act of service

In her final act of service, Queen Elizabeth’s death held that space for us–  if we saw the flowers, the tributes of people queuing up for hours to pay their respects, it allowed our own grief to come forward. I know that was true for me, throughout. The long period of mourning gave us the framework to really feel our own losses and my mind and heart were awhirl throughout the 10 days.

As the last service ended, I keenly felt the finality, that letting go.

And in that moment, so many of us acknowledged all the different losses in our own stories: grief for our own  friends and family, the things in life that we wish had been, maybe even our own lost youth.

She allowed us to let go of some of those as we let go of her.


What we saw during that 10-day mourning period was community drawn together in a time of sadness. Those people who queued together for endless hours and became “queue family”. The peace, caring and good will in those crowds as they processed their grief together. Not a false note among them. Not an act of violence. Not a protest. Just people, coming together in community to mourn their Queen. It was a beautiful and inspirational thing to witness.

Inspiring people to come together

We live in a world where differences divide us, especially here in the U.S. But it was different in that queue. It was a coming together, inspired by this 96-year-old woman of deep faith.

As we gathered and watched the final service, many of us asked ourselves, What does this mean to me? What was my life about? What will my life be?  

The fact that those questions have already been answered for this inspirational woman was brought home by the final, heartbreaking lament piped by her personal bagpiper in the final moments of the service. My bestie shared something she loves from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:

Support us, Lord all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed,
 the fever of life is over, and our work done; then Lord in your mercy, give us safe lodging, a holy rest and peace 
at the last.  Amen

I was reluctant for these rituals, these ceremonies, this period of grieving to end, because it represented to me the kinder, gentler world that I know we are capable of.

If only that could be her legacy.

I wish.
Our gently supportive tools for grief can be found in my Etsy shop HERE.

10 comments on “How the Queen held space for our own grief
  1. A lot of this reminds me of the Jewish custom of sitting shiva.

  2. Alana says:

    The symbolism of the bagpiper playing and leaving the service was the highlight of the day. I discovered that the song he piped was a Gaelic lullaby, “Sleep, Dearie, Sleep”. I had to read more about the history of the Bagpiper to the Sovereign. To me, the mourning period and funeral had so much tradition behind it. Each song was selected for its meaning in the Queen’s life. We were all part of one family for several hours.

  3. Diane says:

    This is so moving, Carol!
    The death of such a person (and there really has only been ONE such person!) affects us profoundly.
    At the last, our Queen managed, one more time, to gather the people into a tide of caring and compassion–proving that, even in this divisive world, it is possible. I found that my biggest, brightest lesson during this time of reflection and grief.

  4. Laurie Stone says:

    The sight of that bagpiper slowly turning that corner signaled the end of an era more than anything else for me. It was so moving.

  5. Karen Coller says:

    Glory for Queen Elizabeth.She was a great person.

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