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What Our Complex Responses to Queen Elizabeth II’s Death Say About Mental Health

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest reigning monarch, has passed away at Balmoral Castle, her summer residence in Scotland. She was 96.

As a British citizen residing in Northern Ireland, I feel obliged to comment on what is undoubtedly history in the making. The queen served for 70 years, making her monarchy somewhat of a cultural constant. People have grown old knowing only of Queen Elizabeth II, so to say this is a monumental change for British society and Britons further afield is an understatement.

In the hours following her death, I began to notice certain trends in responses that ultimately speak to our mental health on both societal and individual levels. Make no mistake: whatever your experience and perspective on the monarchy, these are all valid. We all view the world through the lens of our individual experiences, including when a figure as divisive as the queen passes away.

So, here’s how you, or someone you know, may have responded to news of the monarch’s death.

1. Collective Fear of Change After Queen Elizabeth II’s Death

We continue to live through a turbulent period of history. We’re riding out the collective grief of the COVID-19 pandemic that claimed the lives of 6.51 million people worldwide. Climate change is escalating, and just this year, Russia invaded Ukraine, displacing 7.1 million people. So, when something (or someone), that has been viewed as a constant, changes amid so much recent change, we’re bound to react.

I’ve spoken with a few friends who feel uneasy at Elizabeth’s death, telling me how she has “always been there” and how strange it feels that she’s gone. No matter how you feel about the queen’s death, I’m certain many can relate to this visceral response. She’s been there, the head

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