On the afternoon of Thursday September 8th, I concluded a virtual session with a client and left my office space. My daughter asked, “did you hear the news?” “What news?” I responded. “The Queen died,” she said. To my surprise, tears immediately sprung to my eyes. I hadn’t expected to feel a welling up of emotion. But I did.
I will always remember where I was standing when I got the news. So too will I always remember the exact spot in which I stood at the time that I heard that Elvis and Princess Diana had died. And why the sadness about these people with whom I had never met or had any in person relationship with, I wondered. Upon reflection, I realize that it’s because in my mind, I had immortalized them and never imagined a world without them in it. And so I felt the loss.
The Queen has been the Queen since the day I (and millions of others) was born. She has been a figurehead for decades. A steady, unwavering force. And so too were people such as Elvis and Princess Diana seen as larger than life. Almost like fictionalized characters who were not like the rest of us. I gave them super human powers. I hadn’t, until recently seeing the Elvis movie (which I highly recommend), thought about his regular life growing up, his relationship with family and his wife and child. Thinking of the public image of Elvis evoked only thoughts of him on stage, gyrating his hips and belting out his songs. Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth too evoke mental images from what we see on tabloids or the news. Of course, we don’t typically have regular glimpses into their “real” lives. However, they are human just like the rest of us. Yes, even the Queen, I reflect, got into bed at night, closed her eyes and slept like all other human beings. She sat on the toilet (gold encrusted?) just like the rest of us and her bodily functions were just the same. I’m sure she even belched and farted!
And upon further reflection, of course I realize that the Queen had no choice but to die one day. She was 96. An apparently mostly healthy 96 with the support of her medical and wellness entourage, but still, an age at which one knows that the end of life on earth is not far off. She was, after all, human.
And to take this thought one step further, and to summarize with a message to you, I’d like to suggest that we recognise that we are all human beings. Some richer, some poorer, some more intelligent or educated or less, some more fortunate or less. But we all come into the world the same way and leave the same way. No one, not even those on the back of a twenty-dollar Canadian bill are immortal or escape being human.
So, my sadness then, is mourning the loss of a fellow human being and empathizing the regular human emotions that her family and friends and supporters will experience. The position she held and the work that she did on this earth will be in the history books, but only by chance, because we are all as worthy of being remembered.