For the last two weeks, it seems that all that has been on TV has been the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the lead up to and wind down from her funeral. I understand it… she was the most well known woman on the planet, and she made history, and it was always going to be a huge thing, this coming to the end of an era. Regardless of how you feel about the monarchy (I’ll be voting to become a republic when the time comes), it is easy to get caught up in the pomp and ceremony of it all. I have to confess to staying up ridiculously late to watch it all… but as I said to my mum, I have watched all of the weddings and things up until now, as if I would miss this!
All of this relentless coverage has had me thinking about death and funerals (again) and how hard all of that is to get through when you’re a “joe average” person, let alone famous and constantly in the public eye. When a person you love dies, your brain actually shuts down. There has been all kinds of research done around this subject – not that I can quote particular studies for you. Your body shuts off trauma parts of your brain so that you can manage day to day stuff , and the shut down parts can take a long time to switch back on. Poor King Charles was mocked in all kinds of ways for complaining about a leaky pen on a couple of occasions, and while it could be that he is a complete dick (time will tell) it could also, and more likely be a grief response. His world feels out of control, his mother just died, and complaining about a leaky pen is something that feels like he has some kind of control. I know that when Claytie died, there were things that I said and did that probably seem stupid in hindsight, but felt really important at the time.
And then there is the funeral… your last chance to publicly honour your person – a final event just for them, and oh so important to get it right! This funeral has been in the planning for years. The details were incredible and on a massive scale, but I wonder if there was a personal eulogy for her majesty? Did they tell any of the funny stories that we all have about our person or is that something that they are able to do with their week of personal mourning? – as if a week is enough!!
I actually enjoyed Clayties funeral, and I know that enjoyed is a weird word to use in this context. But I did. I was really happy with his funeral and how we did it… some parts were absolutely out of my control, and were incredibly frustrating for members of my family, but in an odd way they make sense to the big picture. It was super important to me that we didn’t have a stranger speak for us about Claytie. He was ours, and his story was for us to tell. The boys chose the music that we played and I loved the unorthodox -ness of their picks .. Beasty Boys, Cows with Guns, and Kasey Chambers… as well as a couple of my choices for his slide show. It all felt like him! I am insanely proud of how well the boys all did on the day, particularly our oldest son who spoke on our behalf. I loved that Clayties school friends accepted my request, without hesitation, to be our MCs and that we were able to celebrate after the service at a good friends home instead of a random venue. I’m also grateful that we were in a window between covid lock downs that meant we were able to invite 100 people, and that technology allowed everyone else to be able to view his service on line. It all made for a day that was absolutely a celebration of the awesome human that he was.
The funeral tho, while signifying an ending is also a beginning. It is the start of a very different life with out your person. It is learning to live in a world that you no longer recognise. It’s hard! I can only speak from my own experience of losing my husband – I hate that phrase by the way… I didn’t lose him, I know exactly where he is! Luckily for me, I don’t know what it is like to have a parent die, and in the case of the royals both in a very short time span. Any death leaves a huge hole in your world, and adjusting your life around that hole is hard. I hope that they get the time and support that they need to grieve, and to work around the queen sized hole in their world.