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A Lost Royal Opportunity

Meghan is a narcissist. Harry is entitled and spoiled. Charles is not suited to be king. Kate is a cold woman. William is a terrible brother.

The headlines, gossip and tabloid fodder is endless. They have podcasts, YouTube all devoted to reading every moment of body language, every facial expression and even the royal fashion that may have a hidden message. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is convinced they are right. The friendly, and not so civil discussions have consumed the internet world. What a waste of time.

We have, once again, missed the point entirely. What could be a productive discussion about how childhood trauma and loss can inform us about how to be better families and better friends, has gotten lost in the gossip.

The royal family mimics our own families in ways that are difficult to see. Everyone is talking and no one is listening. There is no acknowledgement of our shared experiences as individuals. We don’t LISTEN to each other’s stories and if we do, we don’t believe them. Judgement and projection abound.

Recently, my husband, Charlie and I had dinner with two old friends. We were catching up on one another’s lives and one of them said, “I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your parents. My goodness, so close together.” I had just replied, “Thank you” when the husband emphatically said, “You need to get over it and move on. Your parents were older and they lived a good life. You need to put it aside and live your life.” I’m sure he thought that was good advice. I’m sure he meant it in love. Perhaps not tenderness but that came from his life’s experience, and I gave grace. There isn’t room in every relationship for heart to hearts.

The reality is that I am getting on with my life. I’m fulfilling obligations. I started a new job. I have a project that is helping children who have significant adults in their lives that are suffering from addiction. I cook, I clean, I pay the bills. I’m functioning. And, I’m grieving. I have moments where it feels like I’m walking through wet concrete. I am freaked out because next week we are transporting our parents’ cremains to the cemetery. It’s another painful goodbye. Earlier this week it took me all day to clean out my mom’s bathroom drawers. There is the brush with her hair on it. Do I keep that? Do I clean it and use it? Do I throw it away? For some reason the bathroom drawers undid me. The double you over in pain kind of grief seems to always come from the stuff that you don’t expect.

What I wish is that we could each allow for those discussions. I wish I could have spoken of what that was like to someone who would have just listened. Not fixed it or told me to “move on.” I didn’t need advice. I needed an ear. It would not have taken an entire day or visit. It would not have consumed or destroyed a shared meal. I would have been a shared experience. The catch up at dinner couple, in that moment, was not open to that kind of intimacy. It shouldn’t be expected in every situation. I love and appreciate everyone for who they are and where they are. I’m just saying that we could all do better with the reality of grief. We could learn from one another. Especially when it comes to childhood loss, grief and trauma.

Which brings me back from my mom’s hairbrush to the royal family. Clearly, Harry was traumatized by his mothers sudden and violent death. He didn’t have the support he needed because we don’t allow, make room for or understand the impact of untended grief on children. That’s why we have missed the boat when we criticize the royals. They are a family, just like us, albeit richer, that did a crappy job of showing up for each other in grief. In their behavior and public breakdown we are seeing the avalanche of evidence supporting that theory.

Can we stop micro analyzing their facial expressions and begin to explore with the same verocity our own grief? Can we take our eyes of them for a moment and see what they went through? Could we take this spectacle and turn our eyes to the subject of childhood grief? Can we stop asking, “What’s wrong with you” and start asking, “What happened to you?” And then, just listen. JUST listen. Without judgement. Without the need to fix, tidy it up or shut them up. Be present. It’s really that simple.

Blessedly, there are now mountains of resources to explore. We can make a difference. The royals could make a difference because they have our attention. As soon as they recognize the real problem. They could have done a better job with those kids when their mom died.


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