It had a real “wow-effect”
on me when I heard Prince Harry opening up in public about his mum’s death. I was in England with my family, having breakfast at a B&B. The TV was on and at first I thought: “I don’t like the TV on while I’m having breakfast.” But then I thought: “I quite like it, it’s BBC breakfast TV.” And then I heard Prince Harry talking about his mum’s death. I only got snippets as the others were talking and not paying attention. I just thought: “How most powerful! Stop talking everybody I want to listen.“ (Of course I didn’t say anything, I am better behaved than that!)
Here’s someone in a most public position, from a most special family and he is very candid about his feelings.” I wanted to hear more about it when I was back in Germany but we know what it’s like: We’re back in our everyday life, have our commitments and forget. Months later I saw, by chance, that there was a documentary with Prince William and Prince Harry about their late mother. I was deeply impressed and also touched: By Princess Diana’s loving care, empathy and sensitivity, by the Prince’s candidness and engagement for “Heads together”, a mental health charity. By chance I found this interview with the amazing Duchess of Cambridge and the two princes: https://youtu.be/45RqUmxDXiY
I feel very strongly about their engagement. Mental health is a topic still stigmatised in our society. It’s slowly getting better, in Germany it is, but still, people have problems admitting to mental health issues. The problem is you can’t see it as opposed to a physical injury.
Having such wonderful champions for opening up and being brave, it is a sign of bravery to openly talk about the deep impact of your mother’s death especially in this position, is a wonderful step in the right direction.
Relationships are an important resilience factor: You don’t bottle up your emotions. You have people you can talk to, people you can listen to – you’re strong enough to accept their help. Talking is so incredibly healing.
And you offer help yourself. I remember, long ago, I was a student, another fellow student told me that her mother had died. I was shocked and I didn’t know what to say. I just said to her: “I’m really, really sorry. I don’t know what to say but I’m really feeling with you and I hugged her.” She told me later that it did her good.
From my aunt I’ve learned that ducking away is one of the worst things you can do: She lost two children at the age of 7 and 17 within only 5 years. It hurt her so much when people on the street when on seeing her changed the side for fear of talking to her.
Of course it’s not easy and you probably don’t know what to say but then I always say to myself: “For me it’s just that I don’t know what to say, it might be an embarrassing feeling but I admit to it and later I’ll be over it. But they’ve suffered a great loss, for them it’s not over a short time later, so pull yourself together and help them!”
Resilient people are honest to themselves and to others: They don’t play perfect world! No life is perfect, it would be boring anyway and how would you grow? When we stand together and support each other in less perfect times, we can make our lives a lot more pleasant.
I love the campaign of the Duchess of Cambridge, Princes William and Harry and I really hope that many people will take them as role models, open up and feel the healing effect of doing so.