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“I know how you feel”. . . Prince Harry on child bereavement

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Over the weekend I learned that Prince Harry recently authored a forward in a children’s grief book.  The book, “Hospital by the Hill” which you can learn more about here, tells the story of a child who losses their frontline health care worker mother from death due to the pandemic.

The book is being given out free of charge to any young person in the United Kingdom affected in this way.

Here are some excerpts from Prince Harry in the book according to this article from The Hill:

“When I was a young boy I lost my mum. At the time I didn’t want to believe it or accept it, and it left a huge hole inside of me. I know how you feel, and I want to assure you that over time that hole will be filled with so much love and support. We all cope with loss in a different way, but when a parent goes to heaven, I was told their spirit, their love and the memories of them do not.” 

“You may feel alone, you may feel sad, you may feel angry, you may feel bad. This feeling will pass. And I will make a promise to you – you will feel better and stronger once you are ready to talk about how it makes you feel.”

Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana died in an automobile accident when Prince Harry was 12 years old.

Funeral Director Daily take:  I found this news item about Prince Harry both admirable and interesting.  I also know what it is like to lose a parent to death as a teenager.  Forty-four years ago this coming April my father died of a sudden heart attack while servicing a funeral.  And, funeral professionals know what the impact of losing a parent at a young age can have on a child.

Now, I’m not a “Royal” watcher, but it was hard not to notice the marriage of Diana with Prince Charles on July 29, 1981.  I distinctly remember getting up on Saturday, July 29, 1981, and turning the television on. . . . every single channel was showing the wedding. . . it was a world-wide spectacle.

To that marriage Prince Harry and his brother, Prince William, were born.  They lived through what a lot of American families live through. . . . what could only be described as a “rocky marriage” ending in divorce on August 28, 1996, but then they were hit with a second thud. . . . their mother’s death on August 31, 1997.  Any funeral director will tell you those are traumatic experiences for young people and these boys were hit with a double whammy.

I would argue that I still struggle with the loss of my father. . . and it has been 44 years.  Now, I feel that I have adjusted well, but there are just some things that still sadden me about his death. . . . he never saw me follow his footsteps, he never met my wife, he never met his grandchildren, and he never got to see retirement. . . something I am really enjoying.  I’ve now lived five years longer than his life was. . . that is a sobering thought and I think about it every once in a while.

Knowing what I know about death, dying, and grief has my antennae up for the future.  When young people have the ability to socialize and develop normally, they still have a hard time with loss.  I’m concerned about the lack of social interaction that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon them.  I don’t have the answers, but I am concerned going forward into the future when young people lose grandparents and others on how their stunted and delayed social development will play into their mental health.

And, it is just not children, so many Senior Citizens have been shunted away to their homes and apartments, I’m worried about their support networks, too.

One thing I do know is that funeral directors are going to be some of those asked for advice on coping. . . . are we ready for that challenge in our communities?  We need to know where the experts are and how we can help hurting families find the help they need.

I also know, however, that funeral directors have always been up to the task of taking care of their communities and helping find the solutions necessary. .  . and, I’m guessing we will with this coming issue also.

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