It’s hard to believe that 20 years have gone by since the death of Princess Diana. It’s one of those moments that I remember exactly where I was when the news broke. I was in the kitchen at the restaurant where I worked as a server when the host came running in to share the news that she was dead. I remember thinking he’d lost his mind, as there was no way someone so young, vibrant, and such a huge part of popular culture at that point could be gone. But she was.
In an interview earlier this year, Prince Harry opened up about dealing with—or rather not dealing with—his grief after his mother’s death.
“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?” he told The Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon in the first episode of her new Mad World mental health podcast.
Prince Harry was only 12 when his mother was killed in the infamous car accident in Paris. As I listened to his very frank interview about how he suppressed his grief and refused to seek help, even as it affected his personal and professional life, I couldn’t help but think about Kat and how her inability to work through with her grief affected her decisions.
During some early readings of the manuscript for A Strange Companion, a couple of people asked me why it had taken Kat so long to deal with the deaths of Gabe and her father. Hearing Prince Harry talk about ignoring his grief for almost 20 years reminded me once again that grief is a long and messy process that is different for each of us. It takes as long as it takes. That said, ignoring grief doesn’t make it go away.
“Once you start talking about it,” the prince says in his interview, “you realize that actually, you’re part of quite a big club.”
It’s this idea of speaking out that is behind the Heads Together charity the prince had founded, alongside his brother William and sister-in-law Kate, to help raise awareness and break the stigma surrounding mental health issues.