Prince William, an advocate of mental health awareness, wants more people to open up about their bereavement.
Going through loss changes us. Sometimes, bereavement makes it hard to reveal our emotions to others and makes us clamp up instead. We may hope to find a listening ear but asking for it may seem hard because it requires us to be vulnerable in front of others.
Prince William, who lost his mom, Princess Diana, when he was only 15, opened up about his devastating loss for a 2019 BBC documentary titled A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health. He spoke about his struggles and hoped to shed light on the necessity for opening up to others.
"I’ve thought about this a lot, and I’m trying to understand why I feel like I do, but I think when you are bereaved at a very young age, any time really, but particularly at a young age, I can resonate closely to that — you feel pain like no other pain," he said, adding, "And you know that in your life it’s going to be very difficult to come across something that’s going to be an even worse pain than that."
Princess Diana died in August 1997 in a car crash. Along with her, two more people, including her then-lover Dodi Al Fayed, also died. Her death has been a storied one and growing up it may have been hard for Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry, to escape hearing or reading about it. The people's princess was mourned publicly and, for her sons, it could have felt that they have only a part of her memory with them.
He believes that this pain of loss can bring people together. "It also brings you so close to all those other people out there who have been bereaved,” he said, adding that you can see it "in their eyes."
The Duke of Cambridge added, "They want to talk about it, but they want you to go first, they want to have your permission that in that particular conversation – one on one – it’s ok to talk about bereavement." He may have gone through this process too after losing his mother. As an adult, he's become an advocate about mental health awareness so he could help others ease through their struggles.
"That’s the thing with mental health — we can all relate to it. We see it day-to-day around us… let’s talk about it. It would make a big difference. There needs to be a turning point where we can pass the message on to men everywhere that it’s ok to talk about mental health. We have to normalize the whole conversation," he added.
The prince spoke about his personal struggles again in 2020. Becoming a parent can bring back feelings from a "traumatic" event, said he, as per BBC. He said that he finds things "overwhelming" at times. He added that he finds support in his wife, Kate Middleton, during such times.
"Having children is the biggest life-changing moment, it really is... I think when you've been through something traumatic in life - and that is like you say your dad not being around, my mother dying when I was younger - your emotions come back in leaps and bounds because it's a very different phase of life. And there's no one there to, kind of, help you, and I definitely found it very, at times, overwhelming," the prince said. The prince added that feelings can "come out of the blue."
However, this father-of-three still believes that parenting is complicated. "It's one of the most amazing moments of life but it's also one of the scariest," he added.
Everybody needs someone to lean on and without that support, it may be hard to come out of a difficult phase like this, for anyone, even if you're a prince. Even his brother, Prince Harry, has struggled with his mental health over losing his mom, Princess Diana.