queen elizabeth ii australia grieves

Australian Grieving

Friday 9 September 2022 5:16 PM

What's the "right" way to grieve? Well ask anyone with praticed wisdom, and they'll likely tell you there is none, that there are no rules. Certainly any grief counsellor would tell you something along those lines.

The question comes right now to me at one level and to all citizens of Commonwealth countries at another. The passing of Queen Elizabeth II has followed that of my own mother by less than a month, and at a similar age. (96 and 98 respectively). For some small contrast, just yesterday a friend asked prayer for a dying relative whom I know at least distantly and indirectly. He is about my age. Mortality. 

This in turn puts me in mind of a moment very early in my ministry, when at 28 I found myself conducting the funeral of a 29 year old who had died in an instant with no warning. A mortality moment if ever there was. 

"How should I grieve personally?" That's one question. The more complicated one is "How should we grieve together?" And even worse, "How should we grieve together on social media?" Yikes!

As I observe it three approaches by Australians to the Queen's death have taken hold, with the usual range of opinions as to timing and aptness. Approach #1 - Now is the time for solemn reflection and only that. Approach #2 - Australians do gravitas with a blend of solemnity and humour (or even frivolity?!); so let's mix it. Approach #3 - (blended perhaps with #2 ) This is undeniably a political moment no less; so let's mention the succession and/or the republic too.

My instincts tend to #2. I chose to begin with a solemn tribute to Her Majesty. Having done that, I felt at liberty to follow up with political humour. Which approach does your heart draw you to? I can't see a point in slugging it out between us. It's surely an intensely subjective call. Isn't it? The closest I've come to controversy was to suggest that #3-ers might at least ground reflections in solemnity. But even that's subjective in the end. No?

What of approach #1? This has I think been the staple of public grieving in our culture. I also suspect it may be more the instinct of boomers and still more the next up from that, than of millennials, those shaped by the digital age. I also suspect that #1-ers would have among them a range of instincts as to timing. 1 day? 2 or 3 days? A week? The whole official mourning period?

Let's bear with one another's instincts.