Until you lose a parent, especially at a relatively young age, you can’t really understand the unique — sometimes complicated — grief that comes along with it.
Nevermind being able to properly articulate how you feel. At first, anyway.
Prince William was recently on hand to honor Princess Diana at the 21st anniversary celebration of the Child Bereavement Charity UK, the organization his late mother helped launch in 1994. Prince William is now the Patron of Child Bereavement UK, which provides support, information and services to bereaved families, specifically to help a child dealing with the loss of a parent — annually, they train some 6,000 professionals.
“What my mother recognised back then – and what I understand now – is that grief is the most painful experience that any child or parent can endure,” he said in a speech at the celebration. “But my mother was determined to help those in need and she would have been immensely proud – as I am – of all that Child Bereavement UK has achieved these last 21 years. CBUK’s humanity is simply unparalleled, and it is deeply moving. As a father to two young children myself, I now appreciate it all the more.”
This isn’t the first time Prince William has spoken out about the grief he experienced after losing his mom when he was just 15.
“Never being able to say the word “Mummy” again in your life sounds like a small thing. However, for many, including me, it’s now really just a word – hollow and evoking only memories,” he told the Daily Mail last year. “Initially, there is a sense of profound shock and disbelief that this could ever happen to you. Real grief often does not hit home until much later. For many it is a grief never entirely lost. Life is altered as you know it, and not a day goes past without you thinking about the one you have lost.”
Those of us who have lost a parent? We can relate to that quote all too well. The grief journey is a treacherous road that’s always under construction, and it can sometimes take awhile to navigate the new terrain and find our footing. We try to put those broken puzzle pieces back together, even though we know that a large part of our “life puzzle” — our parent — will always be missing.
For me, Father’s Day is one of the hardest days, next to the holidays. My social media feeds quickly fill up with family photos and while I’m happy for them, I do feel a little twinge of sadness in my heart. Maybe it’s not so much sadness over what I’ve lost, but sadness that I’ll never again be able to say, “Happy Father’s Day, Dad,” and see his face light up. It’s those kinds of tiny moments that you come to miss the most when you lose a parent at a time when your relationship with them was just finding its solid foundation. My father and I were finally starting to relate to one another as something other than a parent-child, and I regret that our story was cut short. I often wonder where we’d be today… xoxo