Grief is a Mimic Octopus (Just Ask Prince Harry)

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

Grief is a strange animal.  We have an idea what it looks like, yet when it comes around it morphs into something indescribable.

It is often rude, appearing at awkward and unexpected times, demanding our immediate attention. Or, as in Prince Harry’s experience, it gives us the silent treatment, disallowing any recognition and repair of the hidden damage it causes.

In an HBO documentary, Princes Harry and William talk about their mom, Princess Diana. Since her death in 1997, Harry, who was 12 at the time, has grieved very little. He acknowledges he has to face it and let it out. 

It may surprise you as it did me, to learn that Diana’s sons had not sat down and talked deeply about her with each other until the making of the documentary. How strange, we may think. Yet no two people’s grief looks the same. It is often camouflaged and evasive like a mimic octopus.  Conversation helps.

Grief over my mother’s death in 2002 was slow, and different from anything I thought it might be. I cried a little, then dreamed about her almost every night for four years. Grieving began twelve years later after the past had been fully discussed with my aunt, therapists, and God. By facing the whole truth of our mother-daughter relationship,  freedom to mourn evolved. I wish my brother was not estranged so we could discuss things too.

In contrast, grief came quicker when my dad passed away at Christmas 2015, probably because conversations about him were simultaneous with those of my mom.  I saw my brother for likely the last time at dad’s funeral; there have been no gripping emotions as of yet. On the other hand, two valued supports disappeared from my life in the last year, bringing on a deeper, more immediate sorrow.  

In each case, grieving brought (and is bringing) healing. Oh yes, sadness and sentimentality still exist. It is in freedom from chains to the past that I find peace.  It is also hugely comforting to know my parents are with Jesus, the Redeemer who salvaged their suffering and changed it to pure joy in his eternal presence.

Grief. Good grief! It is a strange animal, showing up in its own way and time. 

Today’s Helpful Word

God’s promise about eternity for those who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord – Revelation 21:4

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”                


NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

shadow picture by MIMWICKET, hymn picture by BA1969, both from


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