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Crown Princess Mary on grief: “Losing someone close to you is one of the most difficult and lonely life-changing events”

Crown Princess Mary spoke movingly about a subject close to her heart via a video message to the first European Grief Conference.

The Crown Princess spoke on a topic she knows well and revealed that “grief is probably one of the most trying periods one can go through.”

Speaking from New York, Crown Princess Mary touched upon her own dealings with grief: “I know from personal experience that losing someone close to you is one of the most difficult and lonely life-changing events to go through. I lost my mother when I was 25. I still miss her, and she is rarely far from my thoughts. Grief never goes away but becomes part of who we are as life goes on.

“I also know from my own experience and conversations with others who have lost the difference it can make if you have someone to talk with, someone who listens, someone who understands you, be it a friend, partner, colleague, teacher, minister or a healthcare provider.”

Crown Princess Mary’s mother, Henrietta, died of complications following heart surgery in 1997.

She spoke of how grief is all-encompassing, sharing, “It can come suddenly, unexpectedly, it can overwhelm us to a degree where it overshadows our lives completely, at least for a while.”

And she touched upon the fact that grief is universal, even though the boundaries of grief can change from person to person, saying: “We know that grief expresses itself in many shapes and forms and that the needs of bereaved people are very individual and culturally sensitive.”

“By creating a common platform…we gain important insights to better understand and support bereaved people and their individual needs,” she added.

Crown Princess Mary continued, “We need to be more open about, and talk about, death, grief, and living with loss. We need to understand that it is better to talk with bereaved people about their loss than to remain silent in the imagined fear of upsetting them.”

Crown Princess Mary suggested that this could be helped by creating grief literature, breaking down taboos and developing a language for grief to talk about the facets of it. She also spoke of how grief affects people differently—some can work through their feelings with their support networks, while others may need more formalised care through volunteers and practitioners. Others still “need highly specialised grief therapy in order to be able to adjust and live with their loss.”

Crown Princess Mary has been in New York this week as Denmark lobbies for a position on the UN Security Council for 2025-26.

She and her husband have been in the United States all week carrying out engagements but travelled back to Denmark to host a gala dinner on 23 September on behalf of Queen Margrethe, who tested positive for COVID-19; the dinner was for the Danish government, the Danish parliament, and the Danish members of the European Parliament.

Crown Princess Mary’s full speech can be viewed here.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.