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 iUniverse.com; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”-–xLibris.com; “Come and Go” – ∫ookBaby.com; “Ten Women of fValor” and “Role Play” – Amazon and Amazon Kindle.