This is a place for the simple truths which transcend political debate.
Above all it is the place for hope.
– The Right Reverend Richard Chartres, Bishop of London –
Always interested in how we bury our dead, I went to pay my last respect at the funeral of the ‘grocer’s daughter from Grantham‘, Margaret Thatcher. On my way to St. Paul’s Cathedral I felt slightly removed — emotionally detached — from all the vitriol, rhetoric and blame of the past week still laid at Baroness Thatcher‘s door despite the fact that she had passed away.
Whilst alive and in power as Britain’s first (and only) female Prime Minister, she became a figure of controversy and continued to cause great division even after her death. So I was surprised that the atmosphere outside St. Paul’s Cathedral was pleasant — not festive, nor mournful and neither partisan.
I expected more of the polarity that I’ve witnessed on social-and mainstream media during the past 7 days. But instead, it appeared that Lady Thatcher actually managed to bring people from all walks of life and political persuasion together on this occasion in some degree of sympathy, support and solidarity.
Sure, there were hushes about a ‘Wear Red’ campaign, set up for people to express their disgust at the cost of the funeral (£10 Million). But I saw no one in scarlet robes. There were rumours about planned protests and the possibility of violence erupting. Perhaps the result of overzealous journalists attempting to turn Chinese whispers into news headlines? Whatever the case may be, I suspect the majority of those (if there were in fact that many) who felt compelled to pay their vile disrespect to the Iron Lady, did so cowardly at home behind their televisions and computer screens.
In fact, the protesters that were present — those who booed and chanted ‘Maggie’s Dead What a Waste Of Money’ when the hearse passed — were few and far between and made for a pathetic picture. Yes, they were expressing their ‘real’ feelings, but ironically no-one paid real attention to their pointless cries. Rebels without a cause?
‘That’s how it should be’, I thought.
Nothing more can now be done.
We are now laying another flawed human being to rest. In the final distance travelled between the coffin and the grave, for those of us who are left behind, all we can do is to let go and lay down our arms. Let go of the admiration, let go of the love, let go of the anger and let go of the hatred. What we feel and what we think about the dead matters nothing from this moment onwards. Their life has passed through their hands and is no longer a burden or victory for us or them.
This is how it is, whether we like it or not. Death and funeral wait for all of us. What the living left-behind make of our lives will matter naught when we reach our resting place.
Images – FR Lubbe
Text: FR Lubbe