Like many, on hearing the news of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on 9 April, my thoughts have been consumed by the Queen and how she must be feeling having lost her beloved husband after being married for more than 73 years. I have repeatedly found myself thinking about the magnitude of the Queen's loss and how she, and indeed the wider Royal family - must be feeling.
As a probate practitioner, I often find myself thinking of families and their grief when taking on and dealing with new probate instructions and in the early days of loss, my role is to seek to ensure that grief-stricken loved ones know what they need to do immediately - primarily ensuring that there is an understanding as to how funeral arrangements can be paid for and that insurances are maintained especially for empty properties.
Once the immediate practicalities of instructing a funeral director are in hand, thoughts turn to the more detailed funeral arrangements themselves, as indeed the nation's attention is now turning to the nature, timing and level of state occasion that the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral will be.
Reports indicate that the Duke left detailed notes of his funeral wishes - some of which are against Royal protocol and expectations for such a senior Royal. No doubt more details will emerge in the coming days and become public.
Whilst most people will not have their funeral wishes made or indeed take place in the public eye, leaving clear and detailed wishes for loved ones about how you wish for your funeral to be conducted can be a huge relief for those left behind and handling the arrangements - bringing certainty that the necessary choices would be what was wanted and enabling those left behind to have both peace of mind they have 'done the right thing' and space to focus on their own feelings and needs at such an emotionally difficult time, without the burden of making such important decisions as to how a loved will be laid to rest when in deep grief.
For Her Majesty the Queen, the implementation of funeral arrangements for her dear husband may not carry quite the same practicalities most of us will face, experience assures me that the implementation of Prince Philip's wishes in those arrangements will bring some level of comfort at this most difficult of time.
And for all of us, communicating to our loved ones about what we would wish for our funeral arrangements could be a lifeline and source of comfort and peace at one of the most difficult times your family may face. It seems such a small thing, but the positive impact in already difficult and grief-stricken times can be huge. Whilst the last 12 months might have impacted on the scale of services and celebrations of life, the smaller details such as choice of music, readings and whether someone is buried or cremated have been respected, implemented and indeed brought to the fore with added importance wherever possible.
My thoughts are with Her Majesty and the Royal family - and indeed with so many people who have lost loved ones in these difficult pandemic times. I hope, as I always do for a family impacted by loss, that the funeral will provide a fitting tribute and an opportunity to both mourn the loss and celebrate a life well-lived.
Prince Philip is reported to have requested a funeral of minimal fuss and will not lie in state - where members of the public would have been able to view his coffin. Instead, he will lie at rest in the private chapel at Windsor Castle until the day of the funeral.