Author’s Note: This week we are taking a break from our series on Postpartum Grief to address the recent interviews with Prince Harry, of The United Kingdom, and his brother and sister-in-law in which they promote their charity organization Heads Together. These interviews address Prince Harry’s struggle with grief related to the death of his mother, Princess Diana, and the challenges faced by Prince William and his wife as new parents. Their charity organization focuses upon bringing attention to issues that impact mental health and well-being.
Talking about the emotional pain experienced after a loss can be very difficult. For some people, it's almost impossible. That's, in a sense, what Prince Harry told the world when he opened up about his pain and the death of his mother, Princess Diana.
It's been nearly 20 years since his mother died in a car accident in Paris; Prince Harry was just 12 years old when Princess Diana died. Her death and funeral dominated international news, as it's still a favorite topic of tabloid magazines. Stories have been printed about the “strength” and “perseverance” that he and his brother, Prince William, displayed in dealing with this tragedy, as well as their efforts to honor their mother’s memory. What was missed in the articles, however, was the how that emotional pain impacted them.
In a recent interview, designed to draw attention to mental health issues, Prince Harry publicly shared the emotional truth about the toll her death had on his life. He explained that “My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help?”
Here are some other comments from his recent interview:
- “[I thought] it’s only going to make you sad, it’s not going to bring her back.
- “So from an emotional side, I was like ‘right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything’.
- “So I was a typical 20, 25, 28-year-old running around going ‘life is great’, or ‘life is fine’ and that was exactly it.
- “And then [I] started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden, all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront and I was like, there is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with.”
His interview points out something that we, at the Grief Recovery Institute, have been saying for years: time doesn't heal the pain of grief. Burying your feelings only creates more problems. In Prince Harry’s case, throughout the years he made his own international headlines with examples of bad behavior. He ultimately took up boxing, as a way of dealing with feelings of aggression. In his words, “… that really saved me because I was on the verge of punching someone, so being able to punch someone who had pads was certainly easier.”
No matter how we might try to bury or hide our emotional pain it persists. It was almost 18 years before Prince Harry sought out professional assistance in dealing with his grief. He discovered the value of being able to express his pain to someone who would listen and offer counsel about how to move beyond his loss. The positive side of this is that he’s now using his Heads Together Foundation to bring attention to the topic of grief and other mental health issues.
Notice that his focus is on mental health, not mental disorders. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to any major change or loss in life. It’s not a disorder or illness, but rather the reaction to loss that, when ignored, can negatively impact a person’s sense of mental well-being. Grievers are not broken and don’t need to be fixed. Instead, they need direction and tools on how to express the feelings they’re holding inside.
Taking Action for Yourself
In Prince Harry’s case, it took him two years to find the right people to support him through this process. That was a long time, on top of the 18 years he had suffered. Rather than hoping that time will make a difference, or searching through endless resources to find assistance, there is a better approach. That is exactly what The Grief Recovery Method offers. Those trained in providing this educational action based program can lead you through the necessary steps to properly move through your emotional pain and, once again, be able to enjoy your memories. This program has a proven 35-year track record assisting grievers all around the world.
If you, a family member or a friend, are struggling with grief, whether it’s due to a death, estrangement or any other emotional loss, we urge you to take action now. Our website lists the names of Grief Recovery Specialists located all around the world. If you cannot find one in your area, we offer special two day personal workshops to assist you or your friend on this journey. Another option is to purchase a copy of “The Grief Recovery Handbook,” which offers the possibility of taking action outside of a more professional setting.
The ability to experience emotions is a part of being human. While we may revel in those emotions associated with joyful experiences, we also must deal emotions related to sadness. Trying to pretend that emotional losses are not painful doesn’t make them disappear. Eventually all that sadness, that we store inside, impacts and interferes with our ability to experience joy on even the most basic level.
Time, when wasted, is something that’s gone. For the better part of 20 years, Prince Harry’s journey was negatively impacted by grief, which interfered with his ability to enjoy life and the wonderful memories he has of his mother. His world renown personality has allowed him to draw attention to the power of grief. Please learn from his experiences and act now for yourself, rather than waiting for more of your life to pass you by.