Just yesterday, The Moyer Foundation posted an article about Prince William breaking his silence about the loss of his mother. He announced that he is taking on the role of the Royal Patron of the Child Bereavement Charity in London and reveals to the Daily Mail his feelings of grief and loss after all of these years.
The Prince writes, “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.”
Giving voices to grief is so very important as we all know and giving big, powerful voices helps even more! It is a constant reminder to us, and a wake-up call to others, that grief and loss lasts a lifetime. It takes work, continued attention, unconditional love and strong support to help a child through loss because that will ultimately help carry them through their adult life.
I was having a conversation with a good friend last week about loss and “moving on”. She and I have been friends for many years and she stood by my side through my late husband’s illness, death and is still there for me in my “after-life”. She is one of the only ones who truly knew what life was like for me during the really tough times. She saw things that others didn’t, I confided in her about my feelings and struggles, she knew more than I would let others know, and she helped me tremendously by being there for me, “no matter what”.
As the two of us get older and life “goes on”, thoughts and conversations about our own mortality sometimes surface. She is currently struggling with a major health crisis involving a family member that is surely bringing these feelings to the surface even more. During our conversation last week we talked about her children and how she couldn’t imagine her kids growing up without her. The thought of her losing her own life, knowing that her kids would have to live life without her is her biggest fear. No one can raise them like she does! And what if they forget about her? They are, and forever will be her “babies” whom she loves more than anyone else ever could.
I too, worry about those things myself from time to time but I also know that, as Prince William thinks about his mother, my children think about their father every single day as well. Princess Diana died over 16 years ago and her son’s thoughts of her are still present and fresh even though his life has gone on. I get that – as do those of us who have suffered the loss of a spouse, child, or parent. The thoughts are constant and will never fade because those we have loved and lost have made a permanent impression on our lives.
This month marks 4 years for us…
4 years…My daughter was just a baby in 1st grade and her big brother in 5th when their dad died from brain cancer. It was the only year they would ever be in the same school – not one bit of a coincidence- I am very sure of that. I look back at pictures and cannot believe that those sweet innocent faces had to endure so much. They had to watch their father suffer seizures daily, take countless pills, spend weeks in the hospital after brain surgeries, endure brutal radiation and chemotherapy rounds and ultimately take his last breath.
Never mind how I did it. How on earth did my babies do it? How did any of our children do it?
Fast forward 4 years…
My first grader is now in 5th, her big brother just started high school, I have found love and married again and we will welcome a new little addition to our family next month.
The kids are happy and healthy. They are good students, active in sports and dance and enjoy life with family and friends. To those who do not know us and where we’ve been, we look like a normal, everyday family. But you know that for as much as things change, some things will always stay the same.
We are, and will be, forever changed by our loss. It lies right under the surface – not visible to most but felt every single day. I have no doubt that my kids think of their dad all the time. They have framed pictures on the walls, memory boxes under their beds and pillows stuffed with their favorite memory of him under their sleeping heads. They talk about him freely and love to hear stories from their Uncle Dave about when their dad was a little trouble maker!
Sure, some memories and details made fade over the years, but the love for their father and their daily thoughts of him will never go away. I am grateful for Prince William and his decision to speak up and give grief a voice as I am thankful to The Moyer Foundation and every other person, group and counselor out there who helps, supports and cares about the future of grieving kids. Our voices get stronger every day and that is truly the best gift we can give to our children and the most beautiful way of honoring those we have lost.