All loss hurts, but losing your mom when you're young is different.
"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
Prince Harry has finally opened up about the pain he's experienced since the tragic death of his mother, Princess Diana of Wales, including such personal details as how he has sought counseling to help him manage his feeling of being in "total chaos" over her death even now that it's nearly 20 years later.
During a heartfelt interview on a podcast hosted by The Telegraph, Prince Harry shared that he “shut down all his emotions” for almost two decades after losing his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, despite the fact that his brother, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, tried desperately to persuade him to seek help.
Harry went on to describe the serious effect losing his mother has had on his life and how being in the public's eye left him feeling “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions."
He explained during the podcast that he spent his teenage years and his 20s determined not to think about her.
“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."
He went on to describe how he tried to keep his emotions bottled up inside ... until he couldn't anymore.
"I thought it’s only going to make you sad. It’s not going to bring her back. So from an emotional side, I was like ‘right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything...’"
“And then [I] started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden, all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront, and I was like, there is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with.”
The Prince credits his brother William with helping him finally realize he needed help and that seeking therapy to address his issues was critical to his well-being.
“It’s all about timing. And for me personally, my brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me. He kept saying this is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk to [someone] about stuff, it’s OK."
Prince Harry says he now counts himself lucky that it was “only two years … of total chaos” before he learned how to talk about it.
“I just couldn’t put my finger on it,” he said. “I just didn’t know what was wrong with me.”
Unfortunately, I know exactly what Prince Harry is going through.
I lost my mother to breast cancer at in my early 20s. It took me a long time to discover that I needed help managing the emotional toll, and I imagine most people who've suffered this kind of loss would likely agree that therapy is a vital element in the grieving process.
Losing a parent is one of the hardest things you can ever go through.
It doesn't matter how old or young you are. When it happens, it will crush you. But like Prince Harry and me, you are not — and you will not be — alone.
There is always someone to talk to, someone to guide you out of the darkness and help ease your pain.
You just have to ask.
When I finally decided to go to counseling, it helped me learn to grieve my mother's death in a non-destructive manner.
It took time. It takes time. But it works. Trust me.
Thanks to the support of his family, friends, and counseling, Prince Harry is in a far better mental and emotional place now.
“Because of the process I have been through over the past two and a half years, I’ve now been able to take my work seriously, been able to take my private life seriously as well, and been able to put blood, sweat and tears into the things that really make a difference and things that I think will make a difference to everybody else.”
Later this year, Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge will commemorate the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death by commissioning a statue and presenting awards in her name in memory of her “kindness, compassion and service."