Death, when it comes quickly for someone we love, tends to blindside us, and drag us out of our ordered complacency.
Two women died this month. One I knew. One I did not know at all. One was famous. One was not. One attracted a staggering number of mourners, millions across the globe. The other attracted barely thirty.
The death of one generated both expressions of love, and expressions of deeply felt hate. The death of the other generated love, and deeply felt feelings for things that should have been, for things that the sometimes disorderly nature of the unfolding of life did not allow to be.
Both women shared much in common. They were daughters, they were sisters, they were mothers, they were grandmothers. Their deaths, the loss of them, was felt keenly by some members of their families. The passing of both caused change.
Both were raised under the control and influence of very powerful Institutions. One was raised and protected in the Palaces of Royalty, the other was raised and abused in the Palaces, if Orphanages could be called that, of the Catholic Church.
One was born into high privilege, the other was born into the opposite, and neither had much of a choice in the matter. Both women lived a life of service to those around them.
Elizabeth Windsor was Queen of England, and represented the Institution of the Monarchy throughout the Commonwealth. Elizabeth, according to many who knew her, was an extremely decent person, a very humane human being. The Institution she headed has never apologised willingly for the brutal inhumanity it perpetrated upon others during the era of the British Empire.
Figlia Didio, my Sister, was indeed Queen of her own domain. According to many who knew her Figlia was an extremely decent person, a very humane human being. The Institution who raised and abused her has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into making any sort of real apology for the brutal inhumanity it perpetrated upon the abandoned children placed into its care.
There are some similar themes, and some discordant themes, running through the lives of both women. That they were both decent people cannot be contested. That they will be grieved by those who closely knew them cannot be contested.
Grief, true grief, freezes and numbs the heart, it cannot be feigned, nor can it be concocted or manipulated into existence. Celebrity Grief however is a very different animal, without concoction or manipulation it could not exist at all.
One woman was buried in gilded coffin under the fanfare of regal pageantry, and she was buried with an outpouring of real grief by her immediate family and intimate friends. I do not contest the fact that some of Elizabeth’s Subjects felt a grief as real as those who truly knew her well.
I do not contest the fact that the amount of concocted and manipulated grief exhibited by many who did not know her at all was extraordinary, and quite shameful in a way because it demeaned real grief down to the level of fad and, a quickly passing, mere thing, a commodity.
One woman was buried in a coffin woven of wicker under a respectful silence, and she was buried with an outpouring of real grief by her immediate family and intimate friends. Grief as commodity was not in evidence.
Grief, true grief, freezes and numbs the heart. It lingers in feeling and memory.
Both women have one thing very much in common. They were both raised by Institutions I truly detest.
I am glad I was able to attend Figlia’s funeral. Because of Covid I was unable to attend the funeral of my other Sister, Rona. My heart is numb. My Sisters are gone.
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