Harry shares words of wisdom on coping with grief with bereaved children

The Duke of Sussex has advised a group of bereaved military children they cannot “suppress” their grief forever as it would eventually “eat away” at them.

Harry met the youngsters during his brief UK visit in May and, in a new video, discusses coping with loss with Nikki Scott, founder of Armed Forces charity Scotty’s Little Soldiers which is supporting the children.

During the 20th anniversary year of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Harry revealed in a newspaper interview that he spent nearly 20 years “not thinking” about his mother’s death and eventually got help after two years of “total chaos”.

Scotty’s Little Soldiers
Harry was a surprise visitor at the Scotty’s Little Soldiers event in May (Paul Tibbs/Scotty’s Little Soldiers/PA)

Speaking after he joined 50 children for a session of fun activities hosted by Scotty’s in May, the duke told the charity boss about his pep talk about coping with grief. He said to Mrs Scott: “But that’s what I was saying to (the children), if you suppress this for too long, you can’t suppress it forever, it’s not sustainable and it will eat away at you inside.”

When she highlighted the importance of a bereaved child celebrating their parent’s life, Harry replied that it was hard for a youngster whose mindset was “I don’t want to talk about it because it makes me sad”.

He added: “But realising that if I do talk about it, and I’m celebrating their life, then actually things become easier. As opposed to ‘I’m not going to talk about it and that’s the best form of coping’ – when in fact it’s not.”

Harry is Scotty’s global ambassador and a long-time supporter of the charity, which helps children who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces.

Scotty’s Little Soldiers
Harry took part in fun activities with the bereaved children supported by the charity (Paul Tibbs/Scotty’s Little Soldiers/PA)

During the discussion, he added: “You convince yourself that the person you’ve lost wants you, or you need to be sad for as long as possible to prove to them that they are missed. But then there’s this realisation of, no they must want me to be happy.”

Mrs Scott, the charity’s founder and mother-of-two, recounted the moment she was told in July 2009 that her husband Corporal Lee Scott, who served with the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, had been killed in Afghanistan.

She described to Harry how she broke the news to her then five-year-old son, Kai, while also caring for their seven-month-old daughter, Brooke: “It was the worst. How do you tell a five-year-old this?

“I took him up and sat him on the bed and I said, ‘Kai, do you remember where daddy was?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, Afghan’, and I said, ‘Something really bad has happened and the baddies have hurt dad and he’s died’.”

The year after her husband’s death, Mrs Scott set up her charity which today provides more than 680 children and young people with one-to-one bereavement support, respite breaks with their families, the opportunity to meet and bond with other bereaved children or take part in extracurricular activities.

Harry and the charity’s founder Nikki Scott recorded their discussion about children coping with bereavement (Scotty’s Little Soldiers/PA)
Harry and the charity’s founder Nikki Scott recorded their discussion about children coping with bereavement (Scotty’s Little Soldiers/PA)

She was praised by the duke who said: “What you’ve done is incredible. It is truly inspirational. I’m really honoured and privileged to be part of Scotty’s now.

“And I really look forward to us doing everything we can to bring in more people, more interest, raise more funds and be able to get the message out there to get more kids the support they so desperately need.”

The full version of Harry’s chat with the Scotty’s Little Soldiers founder can be found on the charity’s website.