Amid all the gossip about the royal siblings there’s a repeated comment that should be off limits.  It’s the claim by people with no  personal knowledge of the brothers that Princess Diana’s death was harder on Harry than on William.

Really?  How do they know? By what standard did  they measure the brothers’ grief at the loss  of their mother?

Yes, Harry is the younger one and was, perhaps, more vulnerable.  Yes, William had a king’s crown to look forward to. But such comparisons are odious and usuallybased  on ignorance.. It reminds me of the question thrown at me when my partner died many ears after I’d lost my husband. I was  often asked, “Which death was harder for you?” Should I have measured  by the number of tears I shed for each one?

The fact is, there’s no measuring tape or ruler that can record the depth of someone’s feelings.

When my friend’s husband died after  a devoted marriage of 50 years, she apologized for not being able to cry.  Was she in some category  labelled “unfeeling” by observers? Or was  there too vast a reservoir of feelings for her to give into the release of  tears,  even privately? I only know that this dry-eyed woman lasted less than two years without the man who had been her whole life.

Judgments about what other people should or shouldn’t do ( wear,say, feel) should be off  limits, too. When I interviewed  bereaved people for my book, “Turning Toward Tomorrow,” I spoke with a widow who had found new  love with her husband’s  best friend. Was she one of those woman who “has to have a man in her life,” as neighbors cattily remarked? Couldn’t it be that the strength she gained from this relationship enabled her to go on living?

This isn’t a ”true or false” quiz. The only truth is  locked within each person. Does Prince William’s regal silence  mean he’s  less traumatized  than his  spill-all brother?  Or is William’s wound simply  buried deeper? Or perhaps he’s just learned to live with it?

We need to stop thinking we’re mind readers – or heart readers –  and respect a grieving person’s inner struggle, especially since we may be on the receiving end one day! We should also avoid judging how much grief anyone has the right to. My grandmother has been gone for decades, but I still remember what a hospital aide said to her when my grandfather  was dying: “You’re lucky you had him for so many years.” Perhaps it was the aide’s version of sympathy or maybe she was speaking from a hidden  wound of her own.  Whatever, mygrandmother’s blunt reply was: “What the hell difference does that make now?”

Grandm­a  was absolutely on target. Losing someone we love, someone who may have been the most important person in our world for many years – or one year  – can be anguish. Grief may be mixed with a secret sense of relief that the ordeal is over (which brings its own guilt), or mixed with unresolved issues, but that should be solely between  the two people involved.   It’s not for us to judge what  we can’t really know.

As the  great author Willa Cather wrote, “The heart of another is a dark forest.”   It  deserves the respect of “No Trespassing,”  unless we’re invited in.

Books: “Widow’s Walk” – available through; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”-–; “Come and Go” – ∫; “Ten Women of fValor” and “Role Play” – Amazon and Amazon Kindle.







“It isn’t as if you were married!”  Those callous words were thrown at a woman who was grieving the breakup of a relationship.. But it doesn’t require a wedding ring to make this kind of loss painful. Even if it’s not a legal divorce it’s an emotional one, and brings the same challenge of putting yourself back together.

I spoke with someone who fought his way through this ordeal. Ben Kassoy, a 33-year-old poet living in Los Angeles, shared the frank story of his “first mature relationship.”
He was still in his twenties when a friend introduced him to a statuesque young beauty. The immediate effect was “electric,” Ben says. “Sparks flew!” Apparently S (initial to protect her privacy) felt the same way. They became involved in a passionate affair that Ben hoped would be permanent.. After two years, S paid an overdue visit to her family for July 4th weekend. When she returned she called Ben and said they needed to talk. He hurried over, never imagining the devastating words he was greeted with: “It’s over.”

“She didn’t seem able to articulate a reason,” he says, “maybe she didn’t know why.. She just kept saying that she’d become less and less happy.” Was he shocked? “That’s an understatement. Tectonic plates shifted under my feet.”

He also felt humiliated at not having seen this coming. “I had thought I was on solid ground with her .”Although no ne blamed him for the breakup an avalanche of criticism came from his “internal monologue., “ he says. “I even made a list of all the things I hated about myself.”
Lost and confused, he made a common mistake: plunging into another affair. As many of us discover, rebounds don’t usually work. “Everything was in the shadow of my relationship with S . The affair was brief because I wasn’t ready, but this woman got hurt, which made me feel even lousier. My sense of myself was completely damaged.”

At that point he could have slid dangerously downhill into clinical depression or worse. “I had a lot of feelings I shoved down.” Courageously Ben faced a piviitol challenge. “Before I could have a good relationship with anyone, I needed to feel whole again. “
Recognizing that he couldn’t do it alone,  he began seeing a therapist. He also “processed ” his feelings with his supportive family and a few close friends. “It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick, but I began to see mself with more clarity. I even gained a different perspective, that the breakup with S had a rightness about. It. Although our relationship was fantastic for that time in our lives, it wasn’t what either of us needed in the long run. We had completely different styles when it came to sharing our feelings. Of course, partners cas work on improving this, but we were worlds apart.”

It’s a dramatic contrast to the relationship he’s in now. For some three years later, he met Kristen, an attractive young actor. They’re together in what Ben describes as a “more communicative” relationship, helped by the work he did on himself. “I’m 100% stronger than I was with S,” he admits. It’s also affected his poetry. “She’s my inspiration and a big part of my support system,. You need a partner who understands the stresses of your work, the ups and downs you go through.”

What additional advice would he offer anyone looking for a new relationship? “Find someone who allows you to be the person you want to be!”

Ben Kassoy’s poems have been published in over a dozen literary magazines .He’s currently completing a full-length poetry collection..