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The Varied Attitudes On The Passing Of Queen Elizabeth II

People of the United Kingdom solemnly mourn the passing of their beloved Queen
, as do many Brits in the U.S. Whether we Americans comprehend the importance of the monarchy or not, it is clear that the people of her country revered her. Their widespread grief is understandable. What is puzzling is how some newscasters characterize the loss.

called it a “horrible tragedy”. Is it? A
lovely, ever calm woman of 96, beloved by so many, passes away peacefully at her home (palace), surrounded by family, after 70 years of exceptional, dedicated service to her country. It was, by all accounts, a dignified passing, one most of us might say we ourselves would want. No hospital, no machines, no isolation from loved ones. I

question what is “horrible” about that. I also question how the end of the life cycle in a frail 96 year old who had the wisdom to actually plan her own funeral is a tragedy. Rather, it seems that it is a well thought out end which would accommodate the mourners and give the queen a ceremonial, appropriate send off in a beautiful way. Family
was summoned when the end was near. Her loved ones could all participate together, be at her side and be with one another. In my mind, that is neither horrible nor tragic. Yes
, loss of someone we love and admire is inevitably sad, inevitably painful no matter how planned it is. And humans feel that loss as we grieve over time. It is perfectly normal and is or will be a part of everyone’s life, one way or another.

Perhaps we can all learn a little from this passing of a monarch and how we treat the very subject of loss of loved ones in our own country. Some have historically commented that the American culture is the only one in the world in which we think of death as optional. Consider that we hear ourselves or those we know saying “in case anything ever happens to me…” In case? The end of life is not a maybe
. Every living thing has a life cycle with a beginning and an end. It would be far better to be prepared for that end as the Queen of England was, years in advance. One does not have to be royalty to face reality and help those around us with a plan for how we want our passing and its aftermath to go.

It is my hope that we can see the dignity in the way Queen Elizabeth II

left her life is a reflection of how she lived all her years on the throne. It can be at least an encouragement to those who have such difficulty with the subject of death, to look within. Accepting that we will all get there is truly hard for many. Aging parents may refuse to discuss it. Adult children
can’t deal with the thought and they avoid it too. The result is what I have personally witnessed in my years as an R.N.: rage, bitterness, family fights in the hospital corridor outside the dying loved one’s room, and denial that the end of life is real. We can all save ourselves unnecessary grief. The loss itself is hard enough. Grief hits each person in a unique way. We can at least plan to avoid the anger over a peaceful passing when we encounter that.

We can only get there if we are willing to examine our own attitudes. We can mull over our own thoughts on death and dying. If we can reach acceptance that our loved ones, particularly those who are elderly, frail and in declining health are going to meet their end one day, we will all be better off. We do not need to choose the perspective that when someone passes peacefully and comforted at home that this is a “horrible tragedy”. We can choose instead to prepare, honor their wishes as provided in their Advance Healthcare Directive (also called healthcare power of attorney) and ensure that what they wanted gets done. Honoring our loved ones is the point, one that can avert the rancor stemming from disagreement and denial of death among family members. And we can choose to give voice to an aging parent’s thoughts and wishes by asking them about these matters before it is too late.

I am thankful that the press, generally, has presented the news surrounding the Queen’s passing in a way that reflects her own acceptance of the inevitable end. How she handled planning for her demise is an example worth noting and emulating. None of us may live as royals but death does not discriminate.

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