Not an easy thing to live with

I have some sympathy for the comments which Prince William made this week about how he regretted that his mother died before he met Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge and his wife, and that Princess Diana had therefore never met her or been able to attend their wedding.

As my own mother died some five years before I met my wife I have a good idea how he feels about this. It's a bittersweet thing when one of the best things in your life cannot be shared with your mother.

The same thing is true, possbly even more so, with what is likely to come next, which is when you become a parent yourself. Another of the most wonderful things in life: and when you and your partner start your own new family it usually makes you value all the more the family you came from.

The flip-side of this, and the biggest regret of my life - something which puts minor agonies like losing an election into perspective - is the fact that my parents, who very much wanted to be grandparents, did not live to see my children. My mother and father never got to hold their grandchildren; the twins missed out on another set of people to spoil them; and I never got the chance to share with my Mum and Dad how much more I appreciate all the things they did for me having become a dad myself.

But I don't want to end this reflection on a negative note, because part of coming to terms with bereavement is to recognise that you only feel the grief because what, and who, you have lost is something precious to treasure in your memory. There pain you feel when a loved one dies, and the regret at not being able to share things with them, is the price you pay for the fact that the things you wanted to share were good things, and above all, because you loved that person.


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