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The Queen passing away this month may have been an opportunity for conversation at home, perhaps this is the first death your children have understood and asked about, if you want to talk more about this big conversation and how to discuss it with your children, do reach out to myself (Lauren odile Pinkney ex:124) or any Clergy person at the Cathedral. There are some great resources out there to assist you as well, one that I have found explains death well from a church perspective is: Making space: Families talk together about death and life.

It is most likely the case that there will not be grief for the Queen from your child, but the conversation of death may bring up other family members or pets that may have died, so I just want to take this opportunity to talk a little but about grief and life and death as well, and those questions from our children, which are huge and big, may be painful for us as well. I encourage you, do not shy away from them, death is part of life, and if we can raise the next generation of children to bring the celebration of life where there is a hole filled grief and sadness, then maybe we can better equip the world to heal and reconcile pain differently in the future. I encourage you to ponder two things: How and when did you learn about death? And how and when did you learn about grief? You know your children better than anyone else, and you know when it's time to delve deeper into this real-life stuff, I always find children to be filled with so much more wisdom than we could fathom, learning as much from them as I do from grown-ups. But it can be hard to know the right time, and I have found the right time can be when there is curiosity, not just when you have to discuss death due to circumstance. Just in case its helpful, here are some Children's books on Grief and Faith:

- The Invisible String

- When Somone Dies

- The Big Wide Welcome

- Till We Meet Again: A children's book about death and grieving

Tips for real talk:

  • Be real, vulnerable and honest - your children will respect you and learn from you so much more than you may realize now!
  • Ground yourself - its good to be aware of the space around you, when deep conversations happen, pausing to make a comforting warm drink and getting cozy and wrapped up, or being outside, can help change the atmosphere to a positive space. We can't engage in real talk if we are hungry, tired, or uncomfortable. Try making hot chocolate, or going for a walk. Maybe try lighting a candle!
  • It might not happen the way you plan, and if so that's okay, try again, you are giving building blocks for life, true life skills that will aid them in their wonderings, it's okay to mess up and try again.
  • Faith - go with what you feel in your heart, not what was taught to you as a child, or you think you remember some priest say one time, you have grown since then and our capacity to comprehend big theological, spiritual and ethical questions has shifted. Greif is a personal journey and yours is your own to share with your family. If your child comes to Godly Play they know how to question, and they know how to not have a straight answer, lean into that stuff, it's okay to not know by head but to feel like you might know by heart!

I also want to name, this may also be a time of intersection for us as we explore who the Queen was in terms of a Female leader in service and a person of faith, as head of the Anglican church, whilst also upholding the peoples of this earth for whom Colonialism and the Monarchy have caused so much pain. I, as a British person living here on this unceded land, have had to explore this juxtaposition a lot and especially over the last few weeks, and as we approach National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. I found this post that summed up for me how I feel about the late Queen, and I hope it brings you affirmation as it did for me, and names both the good and the bad in a beautiful way:

"How do we weep with those who weep when they mourn those who have caused millions to weep? ⁣

This is where we meet our humanity and see both the beauty and the terror and the in-between. ⁣

I’ve seen a lot of ungracious posts about Queen Elizabeth’s death. While I feel those posts are valid, I’ve wondered about those of us who are conflicted and find binary perspectives super difficult? ⁣

For many of us who are descendants of colonized ancestors, it’s difficult to mourn a person who represents a legacy of oppression. ⁣

All too often we’ve seen benefactors of the white supremacy of colonialism & imperialism become sainted in their deaths—sins erased. Their silence & complicity is spun as virtuous. The history they made washed & rewritten. ⁣

So how do we hold space for such a time as this? ⁣

Nelson Mandela said, “It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build." The colonizing, imperialism & scandals were easy. Too easy. The peacemaking, healing, rebuilding and reimagining are impossibly hard & heroic feats of perseverance. ⁣

There’s a story about a visit Mandela made to see the Queen. He was given a protocol full of procedures on how to address her. But upon seeing the Queen approaching, Mandela broke protocol & called out, “Elizabeth! You’ve lost weight.” She replied, "Thank you, Nelson, you don't look bad yourself!"⁣

I realize others may not agree with this and that’s perfectly fine: I’m gonna follow Mandela’s lead and first see the human being apart from the institution that caged her. And I’m going to weep with Prince Harry & Meghan Markle and my Hobbiton-husband and his family. ⁣

But most of all, I am going to remember the woman who had tea with Paddington Bear & pulled a marmalade sandwich from her purse like Beyoncé might pull hot sauce from her bag. ⁣

Tomorrow, I will work to dismantle the supremacy that bonded her life to mine—neither demonizing nor idolizing her life. Instead, I will see it for the beauty that it was & also it’s terror. And I’ll extend mercy, knowing that someday when my time has come, I’d like someone to mercifully weep, despite all that’s terrible within me." 

By Marcie Alvis Walker: Black Coffee with White Friends