In the wake of Prince Harry’s recent comments in the press regarding his experience of grief following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, when he was just 12 years old and his subsequent struggle to come to terms with this massive loss, we felt this was an appropriate time to reiterate the message that – whatever your age – grief is a very difficult but normal process for everyone who experiences loss, and although some can navigate this journey in their own way, others may need a little help to deal with their feelings.

The Prince says in an interview with The Telegraph that he “shut down all his emotions” for almost two decades after losing his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. “I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” he said. “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? [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.”

Children especially sometimes suppress their feelings because they simply don’t know how to express them, or sometimes to protect the adults in their life who may be dealing with their own grief. Here at Strathcarron we run a Seasons for Growth Group for young people aged 6-18 in our catchment area who have lost a significant person in their life. The aim of the group is to help young people to understand loss and change so that they can develop practical strategies to manage their feelings. It is important for these young people to understand it is okay to cry, to be sad, to be angry or even to smile, laugh and still be happy. It also helps to know that they are not alone in their experiences and feelings, and that accepting help is a very positive thing to do.

Prince Harry explained how he finally realised   “The experience I have had is that once you start talking about it, you realise that actually you’re part of quite a big club,” He said he now counts himself very lucky that it was “only two years … of total chaos” before he learnt how to talk about it. “I just couldn’t put my finger on it,” he said. “I just didn’t know what was wrong with me. You need to feel it in yourself, you need to find the right person to talk to as well.” But he added: “I can’t encourage people enough to just have that conversation because you will be surprised firstly, how much support you get and secondly, how many people literally are longing for you to come out.” The first step of admitting help is needed is often the hardest, but no one should ever be afraid to reach out and ask for that support.

If you know of a young person who is struggling with grief and who may benefit from our Seasons for Growth Group you can find more information or make a referral by contacting the Bereavement Support Team on 01324 826222 or email seasons@strathcarronhospice.net.