Prince William Gives Advice to a Boy Who Lost His Mom

August 25th 2016

Laura Donovan

Prince William knows firsthand that losing a parent early in life is horrible. He was only 15 when his mother Princess Diana tragically died due to a car accident in 1997.

Having lived nearly 20 years without her, Prince William has gained substantial wisdom on grief, and he recently shared what he has learned with a 14-year-old boy named Ben Hines, whose mother passed away in 2015. Prince William told Hines, his brothers, and their dad to keep talking to each other no matter what, as men are not known for being “great sharers," The Telegraph reported.

"[Prince William] gave Ben his absolute attention," Ben's father, Gary Hines told The Telegraph. "You could see that it struck a chord with him.”

Prince Williams' advice hits on a sad truth about the way men are conditioned to handle grief and tragic experiences.

In 2011, The New York Times published an extensive piece about male grief, noting that research has shown that men aren't always as open when dealing with grief as women are. Dr. Michael Caserta, the Robert L. & Joyce T. Rice Presidential Endowed Chair in Healthy Aging at the University of Utah, told The New York Times that men don't typically express their emotions at length and that this could impact the way they grieve. Grief researcher Phyllis Silverman told The New York Times that even though grief therapy has been shown to help a lot of men, it's not unusual for men to not join grief groups.

“No matter what sex, we oscillate between positive and negative emotions, between waves of sadness about the loss and hope for the future,” clinical psychologist Dr. George A. Bonanno told the publication. “This can be frustrating for men, who often seek the ‘quick-fix’ approach.”

Dr. Lou Wallace wrote in online materials for Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro that showing emotion is often seen as a "weakness" for men and that many are discouraged from expressing themselves in sad moments as such:

"Men are expected to be a strong rock, protector and problem-solver for their families. They are rarely offered any other way of grieving than being strong, capable, in control and managing their family’s grief. This means they must postpone their own grief to be the support for others. Part of healing may mean a temporary dependence on someone to hear a man’s pain and help him process his grief. Yet, for many men, this sort of dependency is seen as 'weakness.' Many boys learn early in life that being male means not depending on anybody but yourself and keeping a 'stiff upper lip.' To have to be dependent, even briefly, can cause men to feel anxious and vulnerable; therefore, they refuse the help needed for healing. They hurt and know they hurt, but prefer to cope with the pain alone. They are more oriented to fact gathering and problem-solving and usually choose not to participate in support that is oriented toward talking and feeling. Avoiding the work of grief causes a lot of complicated grief among men in our culture, which can destroy their ability to enjoy life again."

Read the full article about Prince Williams over at The Telegraph.