Prince Harry recently spoke about how he wishes that he'd spoken about the death of his mother, Princess Diana, sooner.
I was a year older than him when I lost my dad and can empathise with the inability, for a whole host of reasons, not to speak about it. We're really rubbish at it in this country, aren't we?
Anyway, The Guardian had a survey on its website today asking for people's experiences for an article. I suspect that they'll get a lot of responses so doubt they'll be able to use mine.
Here it is anyway - I found it a useful exercise.
When did you lose a parent and what impact did it have?
I was 13 when my father died. It was relatively sudden - I was away on a Scout camp and when I came back he was in hospital. I managed to see him once before he died, which may have made things worse. Although he looked weak and diminished I didn't doubt he'd pull through - he told me he was fine. What parent wouldn't?
After the initial grief, things got back to normal relatively quickly. My mum wasn't really equipped to deal with the emotional issues, and she was now a single parent with two children reliant on her. As the eldest I think I saw it as my duty to be 'good' and to make things easier for her. She had enough on her plate. I suspect I was a fairly subdued teenager after that. My rebellion, such as it was, probably came in later years when I was at university and didn't feel I had to walk on egg shells around my mum.
After dad died I lost guidance on where my life should go. Although he was from a working class background and had left school at a young age, as you did then, he was more focused on what I could achieve. He was my champion in that respect and somebody I wanted to make proud. It's not that my mum didn't care, but by then she was taking care of day to day issues and her own grief. She never got over losing him and never remarried.
For years I'd think of him every day. I would have loved to have had his assistance and guidance on growing up to become a man - I had to work that out for myself. And of course, I'd have loved him to meet my sons, who I know he'd have absolutely doted on.
What memories do you have of the parent you lost?
Because I was 13, I have very vivid memories of my dad, and count myself lucky in that respect.
All of the usual stuff - holidays, Christmas, visiting relatives, him playing with me and my sister, silly jokes, his spaghetti bolognaise.
I have really good recall of the way he looked, the way he spoke and the things he said, which is also a great comfort. In this respect, there is an element of seeing him as a bit of a guide for adult life - what would he have done in this situation, what would he have said?
We did a lot as a family and they're good memories, which is probably why I've never doubted that I wanted a family, and if possible, would start one.
I sometimes wonder if I romanticise him as my memories are largely good, but I think he just was a decent man who lots of people loved and still miss. More than 30 years later I expect to be buttonholed at any family gathering and brought to tears by somebody telling me a story about him.
He was the eldest son in the family and he left a big hole.
How did you deal with your grief and do you have any regrets?
Neither me, nor my sister, who was 10, had any counselling. I don't think my mum did - she probably just had a chat with her doctor and was given some sleeping pills.
I think we all just buried our grief and we didn't really talk much about dad as it was just too upsetting. That doesn't mean we didn't think about him - we probably thought about him too much.
I don't know much about grief counselling, so don't know how much it would have helped. The fact that we are still processing it so many years later makes me think that it would have been handy. It's easier to talk to strangers, so maybe some sort of help would have been useful.
Years later we do talk about him a lot more. It's not so raw but it is still difficult.
How has it impacted you as an adult?
One impact probably relates to where I am in my working life. I always feel like I sort of frittered away my potential through lack of a guiding hand. Maybe that's an excuse for my perceived lack of progress. I was academically fairly bright, but coasted and could have benefited from a bit more vocational guidance and somebody cracking the whip.
Emotionally it has probably made me more guarded with a tendency to be rather pessimistic. I think I was a lot more outgoing as a younger child than I was thereafter. Maybe I would have ended up where I am now anyway - who knows? I do sometimes feel as if I'm still playing at being an adult, but I think this is fairly common.
I'm probably quite protective as a parent and a bit overly prescriptive at times. I worry about my health - I'm about the same age now as when my dad died - and I worry about how the kids would be if anything happened to me.
What advice would you offer your younger self?
Try and find someone who you can talk to about how you are feeling, but do it in a way and at a pace that is right for you. Don't submerge all of this stuff.
Don't feel embarrassed about what has happened to you - I did and it made me shut things away.
It's okay to feel sad, but try to find things that make you happy and make time for those too.