*Photo credit: Daily Express
In August 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a violent car crash in Paris. People all over the world mourned her death, but perhaps no one felt the impact of this tragic loss more than her two young sons William and Harry. Now twenty years later, Prince Harry is opening up about healing from the trauma of losing of his mom in a recent interview with The Telegraph.
After Diana’s death, Prince Harry spent his teenage years and early twenties determined not to talk or think about his mother. He believed that doing so would only make him sad and it wasn’t going to bring her back. Instead, he decided to bottle up his anger and grief and bury it deep inside, hoping he would never have to face it.
“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. 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?” -Prince Harry
Heading into his late twenties, Prince Harry struggled to suppress his true feelings any longer, recalling that he felt on the verge of completely breaking down on numerous occasions. His older brother William had always been a close source of support and encouraged him to seek help to finally work through his trauma instead of around it. Prince Harry sought out professional help from a counselor, and soon after he starting talking about his feelings, he found comfort in knowing that he wasn’t alone in his struggles. He is now able to talk honestly about his feelings and has even taken up boxing as a healthy way to express his anger.
Now 32, Prince Harry is working to break the stigma surrounding mental health issues and encouraging people to speak up. The Prince, together with his brother and sister-in-law, have started a charity called Heads Together which promotes good mental wellbeing. He hopes a day will come where the conversation surrounding mental health is normalized, and anyone anywhere can feel comfortable talking openly and honestly about their feelings.
Recently, Prince William and singer/songwriter Lady Gaga shared a video of the two FaceTiming to discuss how opening up and having conversations about mental health is vital to shatter the stigma that still surrounds these issues.
Healing from Trauma
Traumatic childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect, loss of a loved one, domestic violence, parental substance abuse, natural disasters and other life-altering events impact how a child views him or herself and responds to the world. Trauma can impact important regions of the brain responsible for problem-solving, emotion regulation and memory. Left untreated, trauma can negatively impact an individual’s life-long health and wellbeing.
It is important for professionals as well as communities to understand what childhood trauma is and know how they can help individuals who have experienced it. Learn more about the life-long effects of trauma and KVC’s work to integrate trauma-informed care into child welfare and related systems.