I still remember that first morning after. I woke up late on a school day only to find my relatives sitting with my mom and my favorite teacher in my living room waiting for me. When the words left my mother’s mouth that my father was gone, my world spun out of control and, in many ways, it has never stopped.
But the thing is… the world just keeps on spinning.
Thirty-one years later I can attest that whatever may be happening in our own personal lives, the rest of the world will keep on moving forward. They will do their best to be kind. To try and remember that we are hurting. Yet there is a quintessential part of our human psyche or maybe it’s our culture that just doesn’t want to deal with death and the scary parts of the medical arena, especially when grief gets complicated. Because humans are always complicated and life is far more complex than it looks on the surface.
This morning is a different kind of morning after. We are dealing with a death that has a profound effect the world over. Why? Well, for two reasons. One is that we have had a ruler, a woman at that, who proved what strength, poise, compassion, and service, along with a bit of humor, can look like over a period of seventy years in a time when modern technology allowed all of us to watch very closely. The second reason is that there was a time when the sun did not set on the British Empire. Which means that with the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the grief is going to be complicated. Complex. Downright messy in a lot of cases.
All of us need to remember that we never get to dictate the terms of someone else’s story – especially if they have experienced something we never have such as subjugation, oppression, or injustice. Nor do we get to choose how they will grieve or respond. If you do not know from your own experience, then simply be quiet and listen and learn. It is our God-given job in those instances to stand with the oppressed – not to direct their position or voice, especially given that voices have often been far too long denied in most circumstances.
Now, that being said, all those who feel so able, I hope you will join me in offering up prayers for the Queen’s family and all those who loved her. For yes, as a person she was truly remarkable. I also offer my prayers for our cousins across the pond as they make important decisions about the future of their nation in the coming days and years. And for all those who find grief in any expression from her death, I hold you in prayer as well, that you may also find peace one day.
Lastly, for anyone who is reading this who is grieving from their own tragedies and are in the midst of their own struggles, know that you are not alone. It has been thirty-one years and I am still not over it. There are better days, to be sure. However, some days are just impossible to breathe.
Know you are loved. Know you are not alone. Know you can do this.