That week

11th September 2022

Not knowing where to begin, then realizing the date.

What is there to say?

September is a lovely month in this part of the world, but it held sadness even before that shattering day in 2001.

Words change nothing, so it is best to acknowledge the different sorts of grief and carry on.

*Which is all we can really do.

Something very much worse than death is the departure of the mind without the grace of death.

It may be the cruelest of all possibilities.

If it’s hard to write words of condolence, it is a great deal harder to offer solace to one who has lost, but not lost their partner.

Apart from the obvious, you cannot possibly understand the actual experience because we are all different. We process pain and grief in our own ways.

When, in addition to those difficulties, you add geographical separation and a lifetime spent apart, what words can you offer? How can you be sure that what you say may not be more upsetting than helpful?

So you keep it brief at the risk of appearing uncaring.

September was my mother’s birth month. She didn’t quite make it to 86. Her funeral was on a brilliant day in July, 1997.

Six weeks later, I went back to England to see my father. I was working a very early shift at the airport and flying that night. It was August 31st.

It was my habit, when getting ready for work, to turn on the television, in order to listen to the news.

As I applied a bit of make-up, I heard words that were only spoken of someone who had died and, startled, I went to stand in front of the TV.

The week leading up to Princess Diana’s funeral was subdued and sad. I chose to watch the funeral with a friend, believing that my father would not wish to.

We have seen images this week of the Princes, William and Harry walking beside their wives. No one who watched their mother’s funeral could not be reminded of those two young boys, just 25 years ago, in the procession with their father, their grandfather and their uncle, so brave and so dignified.

Putting aside whatever thoughts one had or didn’t have about royalty and entitlement, two young lads had lost their mother, a woman who was still young and who clearly adored her children.

It was heart-breaking.

It was as well I did not view the funeral with my dad as I could not contain the grief and I would not have wanted him to see it. Whether it was for Princess Diana, or her boys or if it was grief for my mother, I don’t know. I suspect it was all rolled in one.

It turned out my father had watched the funeral, alone in his living room. I should have known not to be surprised by anything he did. He had lost his own mother when he was quite young and I daresay he was thinking of her.

That September week was one millions will never forget.

*It seems some words wanted to be written.

A friend sent me a copy of the letter of condolence from the people of France which you may well have seen. Never-the-less I am going to attach it as I found it very touching.

8 thoughts on “That week

  1. All I can only add to you moving words, Carolyn, is the quote from a book about the grief, which
    Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II included in her condolences sent after this day to the American nation: ” Grief is the price we pay for love.”


  2. Lump in my throat. What a beautiful post. I remember too well that terrible day of 31st Aug 1997 and the week after. Sobbing and sobbing at night, it seemed as if one tragedy in the UK, half a world away from me, had brought to the fore all the other suppressed griefs. Harry’s pain hit me hardest of all, that white card with the flowers, saying a single word, Mummy. I’ve never forgotten that and never will. Grief is indeed the price we pay for love.

  3. My husband lost his mother when he was only six years old … way too young to be without a mother. And whenever someone dies, he always say he thinks back to that day, many years ago, when he stood at his mother’s grave. It’s hard, especially when children are so young … and even worse when you have to grieve publicly like William and Harry had to back in 1997.

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