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Queen ‘will need good support in wake of enormous loss of lifelong partner’

Aine Fox, PA
·3-min read

The Queen will need the support of friends and family as she faces the “absolutely enormous” challenge of losing a lifelong partner, an older people’s charity has said.

The Duke of York told how his mother had described the death of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh as “having left a huge void in her life”.

Andrew said members of the family have been rallying round to support the Queen as she deals with the loss of Philip, having been with him for more than 70 years.

The death of a partner especially after such a long time can be “overwhelming”, said Morgan Vine, head of policy and influencing at the Independent Age charity.

The organisation, which provides support for older people across the UK, receives many calls to its helpline “triggered by someone experiencing a bereavement”, she said.

“The impact of losing a partner is absolutely enormous, your whole life changes,” Ms Vine said.

She said older people who lose a partner after many decades often find it “challenging” when people comment that the deceased is lucky to have had such a long life.

She said: “One thing that people share with us is that they often are on the receiving end of comments around the person that they’ve lost having had a really long life and being really lucky that they’ve had such a long life.

“I think that is obviously well-intentioned but it can make people feel like they shouldn’t be upset that the person is gone and I think that is really difficult because regardless of age, you’ve lost the person that you’ve spent a significant amount of time with and who you really love.

“I think things like that can be quite challenging because they don’t know how to respond and they often feel like they can’t share that they are really hurting and they are really grieving with other people, they feel guilty about doing that because (people say) it’s part of life.”

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She said people who contact them having experienced bereavement often say how they feel “lost and very distressed”.

On their golden wedding anniversary, the Queen had described Philip as her “strength and stay”.

Ms Vine said: “Hopefully the Queen has people around her who can give her that support, both friends and family.”

It is crucial for people to ensure they keep checking in on their loved one long after the funeral has passed as that tends to be an even lonelier time, she said.

“People tend to rally round immediately after the death, and actually it can often be after the funeral that people are more lonely and isolated and distressed,” she said.

“At that point people ebb away sometimes, nothing deliberate but they think that’s the hard bit done.

“And that can be when people feel the loneliest, so just maintaining contact after the funeral is really, really important.”

She said it is also important to remember that everyone will react differently to a death and cope with grief in a different way.

She said: “People shouldn’t make judgments about how (people are) reacting or ‘have they cried?’

“Everybody reacts differently, it doesn’t mean that they’re not feeling the death.

“It’s really important that everyone’s experience of bereavement is recognised to be huge but also different.”

Independent Age’s free helpline number is 0800 319 6789.