In yesterday’s news over here in England, Prince Harry discussed the impact the death of his late mother, Diana Princess of Wales, had on his life. He was only 12-years-old when she died in a car crash in Paris, and he admitted that he only spoke about his grief and how it had affected him three years ago. A lot of people have been obviously shocked by this, and the BBC went so far as to even write a follow up article for their website, where they spoke with three parents about how they’ve helped their children cope with the loss of their other parent.
I read the article with interest, as obviously being a child who has lost one of their parents at a young age. Reading from the perspective of a parent who has had to help a child come to terms with the death of a parent has been something that I’ve thought about more in the past year or so. For so many years, in fact for the majority of the past eight years since my Mum died, I’ve only ever thought about the impact it’s had on my life. It didn’t really ever cross my mind to think how my Dad was coping. Maybe if I’d been older, even at the age I’m at now, I wouldn’t have been so absorbed in my own head. I would have realised it wasn’t just me that was grieving. All of our family, all of her friends, were feeling something similar to how I was feeling.
In all honesty, I feel selfish for having never turned round and asked my Dad how he was feeling, whether or not he was okay. If I was to say this to him now that I’m in my mid-twenties, he would probably respond that he wouldn’t have expected me to have done any differently. I was only a teenager, and I was dealing with normal problems that every teenager goes through at some point during those weirdly difficult years, and in his mind, he wouldn’t have expected me to have been aware of everything and everyone around me. Even still, I can’t nudge this sense of guilt I feel for not having been there, for never taking into consideration how everyone else around me was feeling after she died; for not regarding that the day of her funeral was one of the hardest days of their lives, and not just mine.
I kind of wish I could go up to everyone in my family, and all of her friends, and say sorry for not having been there for them, especially as they were all there for me, and were constantly inquiring after me to make sure I was doing okay. I know that would probably not make a lot of sense almost eight years on, but it would still help to make me feel a bit less guilty about the whole situation.
With regards to talking about how her death impacted on me, I can completely understand where Prince Harry is coming from. It’s difficult to bring up everything, purely out of fear of reminding yourself of the pain and emotions you experienced when everything was happening. Sometimes, although you know it would help to express how you feel, it’s difficult to find the words and to dig all of the feelings out of your brain again. Sometimes to avoid it all, it just feels easier to lock it away deep inside your mind somewhere, although more often than not it hurts more to keep everything to yourself.
I’m really pleased that Prince Harry has been brave enough to speak out, as it often feels like there aren’t a lot of people in the public eye who have been through this, or who speak about it openly. Hopefully it will have a positive impact on others who have been in a similar situation, and will let everyone know that if they’ve lost a parent, or anyone for that matter, they can talk about it to those around them, and seek the help they require.
Having someone who is so prominent in the public eye, and who a lot of people look up to and respect, is vital in encouraging young people who are grieving the loss of a loved one to know they’re not alone, and they shouldn’t feel as though they can’t talk to someone if they’re ready to talk about it. It also sends an important message that you don’t have to feel ready to talk about the death of someone close to you within months of their passing. As in Prince Harry’s case, it can take years to feel ready to let everything out in the open, and no one should in anyway feel forced to speak out if they don’t feel they’re quite ready to. No one I know ever made me speak about my Mum’s death. They left it up to me if I wanted to speak about her memory, or her illness and death. And that’s the way it should be.
I only expressed how much it had all affected me in July 2015, just over a year ago. It took six and a half years to feel ready to say it, and even now I’m coming to terms with things, and there are some things I still don’t feel ready to talk about. It will come eventually, but I, nor anyone else for that matter, should feel rushed in speaking out. They say time is the greatest healer, and it’s time that will tell when you feel ready to talk. It varies from person to person, but as long as you have the support and love of your family and friends, they will be ready and listening when you finally feel able to speak with them.