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Wynford Ellis Owen: a letter to William & Harry

Wynford Ellis Owen: a letter to William & Harry

There is no way that anyone can fully understand or comprehend the loss you endured twenty years ago.

Your mother, Princess Diana, lived her life in the public eye and many people felt that they knew her.  This resulted in unprecedented public grief at her lossno British public figure, not Churchill even, was mourned in such a way  but the reality is that the public knew just a projection of her. 

No one knew her fully, except her sons.  To try to ‘identify’ with the pain you feel is to trivialise it, to downplay it, and instead it should be recognised and honoured.

 

Bereavement and trauma

In the past week you have both publicly spoken truths that have long been ignored and overlooked, much to your credit.  Harry’s admission that he had simply repressed the grief that he had felt for many years, questioning what the point of ‘dredging it back up again’ would be, is sadly a common place experience for many people suffering bereavement and trauma. 

Sigmund Freud said: "A thing that has not been understood inevitably reappears; like an unlaid ghost it cannot rest until the mystery has been solved and the spell broken".  Your struggles are testament to this truth.  A loss such as the one you experienced cannot be ignored or sidestepped.  Instead it must be felt and processed before it can be healed, or it will return time and again.

 

Processing emotions

Gradually, all tiers of our society are becoming better at helping individuals to do the most fundamental of internal work, the processing of emotions.  It might seem odd to think of it as work, but it is one of the most important tasks a person can engage in.  Even where a catastrophic loss such as the death of a parent isn’t involved, difficult and unmanageable feelings are a permanent feature of most people’s lives, and most people are encouraged to run from them at the first opportunity.

In our work at the Living Room Cardiff we see the damage this causes  addicts who have lost themselves in drink, drugs, gambling and other harmful behaviours.  The one factor that unites all of them is a desire to avoid painful or difficult feelings, but Freud’s ghost will not rest.  By stepping up and facing the reality of how they feel, many can finally break free of the bonds of addiction and resolve the pain of their past.

The journey never ends, however, and, as perhaps you both realise, the road ahead is one of ever greater self discovery and connection.  It is a worthwhile journey, however, one that is paved with the truth and fulfilment we all seek.  Your frank and honest disclosures about the inner pain you have felt will allow others to take that journey too.

 

Wynford Ellis Owen is Chief Executive Officer of Living Room Cardiff
wynfordellisowen@cais.org.uk
02920 493895