How public mourning can trigger private grief

The recent death of Queen Elizabeth II has prompted a very public outpouring of grief which - as a result of extensive news coverage and attention on social media - has been difficult to avoid. Although there are mixed feelings about the monarchy, many people have been surprised by the way this very public loss has triggered their own private feelings of grief.

For many of us, the death of a public figure can rekindle painful emotions associated with the loss of our own loved ones or heighten concerns about elderly or vulnerable people in our own lives. The first thing to remember is that this is perfectly normal: grief doesn’t follow a linear path, and sometimes it can assail us at unexpected times. Anyone who has ever lost someone they love (which is almost everyone) will understand that grieving is a complicated process involving a mixture of difficult emotions: one day we might feel in control of those emotions, whilst the next day might leave us feeling as though we’re taking one step forward for every two steps back. Don’t worry, every response is normal: just give yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling and don’t judge yourself for it.

If you’ve been struggling to manage your own grief in the midst of public mourning for the Queen, then there are some small steps you can take to make things easier. For starters, you may find it helpful to switch off the TV and take a break from social media for a time. This will help limit your exposure to the upsetting news coverage which could be triggering your own grief response. Another important thing is to prioritise self care. This doesn’t necessarily mean booking yourself in for a massage, although if that helps, then why not?! But self care really just means making sure that you respect your own feelings, slow down a little if you need to, and put yourself first. Spending time in nature is a great way to reconnect with yourself, and obviously making sure you’re eating and sleeping well, as well as getting regular exercise, will help. Some people also find journaling or meditation can help.

Most importantly, if you’re feeling depressed or anxious then reach out to the people close to you. You may be surprised to find out that many people are going through something similar.