Category Archives: Substance

Monthly Mental Health: On Grief

Monthly Mental Health: On Grief

For many of us, August represents the warmth of summer, leisurely vacations, sea, sand, and surf. It’s the last hurrah before school begins again, fall creeps in, and we start to contemplate wearing sweaters, coats, and boots. For the Duke of Cambridge, however, August has another meaning, as this August 31st will be the seventeenth anniversary of the loss of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.


No one can truly understand another person’s grief and loss; however, the Duke of Cambridge is fortunate to have a partner who has shown herself to be kind, understanding, and gracious when dealing with the grief of others. She demonstrated these qualities clearly when, in 2012, she chose to be the royal patron of East Anglia Children’s Hospices. By doing so, she has shone a light on the need for support and care for children facing life-threatening conditions and their families.


Kate not only draws attention to children’s hospices in England – she has also visited hospices while on tour. Kate visited Hospis Malaysia in September 2012, and also visited Bear Cottage in Australia and Rainbow Place Children’s Hospice in New Zealand during the royal tour earlier this year. After her visit to Bear Cottage, she said that she was “ready for a big sob,” admitting to her own feelings of sadness in the face of the grief of others.


Kate also showed her grace and empathy while visiting Child Bereavement UK with Prince William in March 2013. She and William participated in a private meeting with eight parents who had lost children, and demonstrated care and compassion to those who were grieving.


It can be very challenging to handle the grief of others – especially those that we love. I think that the natural reaction to seeing someone’s sadness is to try and “make it better.” Unfortunately, when dealing with grief and loss, this is impossible to achieve. You cannot make the loss go away, or make the sadness lessen.  I am a firm believer that we all have our own journey with grief. Instead of trying to understand another’s grief, it is more beneficial to do what you can to support that person through their journey. But the question remains, how can we best support and care for those who are grieving? We can look at Kate’s behavior – her empathy and graciousness – to find examples of what we can do in the face of another person’s grief.

Primary to supporting someone who is grieving is to give them the time, space, and understanding necessary for them to do so. Giving the gift of time to someone who has lost a loved one is surprisingly simple, yet often overlooked. In order to support someone, remember that the loss will continue to be felt and that there is no time limit on grief. Immediately after a loss, one is often inundated with well-wishers, emails, notes, and phone calls. In the recent aftermath of a loss, such non-stop contact from others can be a welcome strength and source of support. But then, after the first couple of days or weeks, the notes stop coming and the phone stops ringing. All of a sudden, there is quiet and loneliness in the face of the loss. Giving someone who is grieving the gift of time means remembering that grief is a long process – sometimes life-long. For example, the loss of a mother, like for Prince William, is not only felt in the immediate aftermath of the loss, but for every Mothering Sunday, birthday, graduation, and anniversary after.


It may be more challenging to give someone the space to grieve. Remembering that our tendency is to “fix it” or “make it better.” Giving someone space requires you to leave these inclinations at home. Give the person space to be sad, rather than try to distract or to placate him or her. Don’t be afraid when someone is sad, or when he or she chooses to have some alone time. As I said before, grief is a journey, and sometimes it is a journey that needs to be walked alone.


Finally, the greatest gift you can give someone who is grieving is the gift of understanding and acceptance. Understanding of their need for privacy or for company. Understanding of their need for mindless distractions or to immerse themselves in work. Acceptance that grief is a life-long process, that sadness will pop up unexpectedly, and that previously happy occasions may now be bittersweet.

There are many resources available to those who are facing or have experienced the loss of a loved one. The Duchess of Cambridge’s work with children’s hospices and her visit to Child Bereavement UK demonstrates this. Child Bereavement UK is an outstanding organization that not only provides support to those who are grieving, but also gives training to professionals on the topic of grief. Their website is a goldmine of information and support, and I strongly recommend looking through it in order to find suggestions for how to help a loved one who is experiencing grief.

Grief affects us all – let’s learn together how to help one another.

Identity: Catherine vs. Kate

Identity: Catherine vs. Kate

This month, I have the pleasure of writing to the WWKD readers while I’m on vacation, visiting my family in the Northeast USA. I use the word “vacation” loosely in this context, as I am here with my two little ones, my husband, mother, sister and my sister’s two little kiddos. It’s a full house,Continue Reading

The Modern Princess: Self-Care

The Modern Princess: Self-Care

As a psychologist, I have seen many women come in to my office feeling depleted, overwhelmed, and fatigued.  Upon discussing their history and relationships, a familiar — and unfortunate — pattern emerges.  These women balance their jobs, spouses/significant others, children, parents, siblings, and friends and never seem to take any time for themselves.  I believeContinue Reading

What’s in a Royal Title?

What’s in a Royal Title?

If you’ve ever been on Twitter during a “what is Kate’s last name” debate, you know to stay far, far away from that fire. For whatever reason, the most hotly debated topic is Kate’s official title. On her wedding day, Catherine received a royal title befitting of her new royal status as the wife ofContinue Reading

WWKD’s New Guest Submissions Program!

WWKD’s New Guest Submissions Program!

A few weeks ago, WWKD sent a request for applications for a regular writing position on our team. We were overwhelmed by the number of applications, and it was very difficult to make a final decision. Ultimately, we eenie-meenie-minie-moed and welcomed two  new contributors – Christina and Gemma – to the WWKD family.   ThisContinue Reading

The Royal Tour Dream Team

The Royal Tour Dream Team

The New Zealand and Australia Royal Tour is almost here! We are so excited to see the various events, wonderful cities, and photo opportunities (mostly of Prince George of the Chubby Cheeks, of course) during those three weeks down unda. Along with William, Kate, and George, there will be a professional team of royal aidesContinue Reading

What does Kate do?

What does Kate do?

The internet was a-buzz last week when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge jetted off to the Maldives for a short break before their New Zealand and Australia tour. While most people were envious of their escape to warmer climates, others were disgruntled. To many, it seems that the Duchess of Cambridge does nothing.  ItContinue Reading

Rules of EtiKate: Cell Phones

Rules of EtiKate: Cell Phones

As we have discussed before on WWKD, we rarely see Kate with a cell phone. She does not walk down the street chatting into her iPhone or text while she shops. She focuses on the people she is with and the world around her, something we can all do a little more often. I amContinue Reading

Rules of EtiKate: Traveling

Rules of EtiKate: Traveling

Kate and William are known to enjoy traveling, whether it be for engagements in the US and other parts of the world, or going to Africa on holiday. Wherever you are traveling to this holiday season and beyond, here are some tips and tricks to maintain a regal elegance even when you are 30,000 feetContinue Reading

Kate’s Year in Review

Kate’s Year in Review

This past year has been an incredible time for the royal family, but most importantly The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. 2013 brought amazing memories, fantastic events, and – oh yeah – a baby. We couldn’t end the year without a spectacular review of Kate’s best moments. There were so many wonderful things happening inContinue Reading

Rules of EtiKate: Hostessing

Rules of EtiKate: Hostessing

Now that we have all learned how to have a flawless table setting, we can start hosting fabulous dinner parties! Whether it is a small get-together, a swanky cocktail party, or a five-course formal sit-down dinner, here are some etiquette tips on how to be a gracious and regal hostess. Send out invitations far inContinue Reading

Rules of EtiKate: Setting a Formal Table

Rules of EtiKate: Setting a Formal Table

While the last two EtiKate posts have been a bit aspirational (Meeting the Queen and Curtsying), this week’s post will focus on setting a formal table, a skill we can all use, whether it be at our next dinner party or the next time we sit down with our takeout. This diagram from Emily PostContinue Reading

Christmas like the Duchess

Christmas like the Duchess

For all you Americans, Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season begins – for us in the UK, all of the shops seem think Christmas began three months ago, I digress however – and I feel that now it’s just a two days until December, we can now all allow ourselves to get that littleContinue Reading

Rules of EtiKate: Curtsying

Rules of EtiKate: Curtsying

This week’s EtiKate will look at the act of curtsying. Curtsying is a gesture of respect or reverence made by women by bending the knees with one foot forward and lowering the body. It is considered the female version of the bow. In the past, women would curtsy to anyone of superior social rank. WhileContinue Reading