Moments after Prince Harry helped raise the legendary Invictus Games flag on the Sydney Harbor Bridge, he consoled a widow of the soldier who joined him in a climb
Gwen Cherne, 41, was one of the selected group scaling The Bridge with the Prince told how a compassionate Harry heard the story of her late husband, the Australian Special Forces Commander Peter J. Cafe, who died of suicide in February 2017 at the age of 48.
The couple spoke on the descent for nearly 10 minutes and the prince asked about their children – Emily, 6, Lachlan, 3, and stepson Tom, 19 – and how the family got on.
"Lachlan is the image of my husband, Harry said something like the kids need to remember him or live on in him, and I said my son is so like him," says Cherne, who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio , "It was comfortable and thoughtful."
Cherne says Harry – who lost his mother Princess Diana at the age of 12 – and she spoke of "grief and loss".
"He understood what I mean, when you understand loss, I think it's obvious," she explained. "He asked me if I could get the support I need from the defense and ex-military and veteran community." She works closely with the US survivors' Tragey Relief Program and spoke to Harry about her partnership with the British Diana Award
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Harry, who travels to Australia with his pregnant wife Meghan Markle, 37, was on the bridge to usher in the start of his Paralympic style contest for wounded, sick and injured soldiers and veterans starting this weekend in Sydney.
When the 34-year-old Prince entourage tried to move them away from the excursion, Harry wanted to make sure they had enough time
"He stopped and said," I'm in the middle of a conversation and I'm going to do not leave. "We talked about my history and mental health and how hard it is to talk about grief and loss and suicide in our society and how important things like the Invictus Games are to bring light to the darkness and to people
Cherne, adviser to widows, veterans and families of the Department of Veterans Affairs and an Invictus Games Ambassador 2018, adds that grief is "the foundation of so much suffering." We have it Not to deal with the daily losses we have, or with the great losses of a husband or a son, God forbid that we actually talk about suicide and the real causes and that in one day it is more complicated than just a topic. "
She added, "The fact that he and Meghan are illuminating the Invictus Games, highlighting the service to so many people and the serving members sacrificing oneself and their families – and highlighting the families – gives people hope.
Harry "asked a few questions about my story, so he had it right in his head," she says , 19659015] Cherne met Peter – known as Pete – when she worked in Afghanistan in 2008. In 2010, he returned to the Australian Army and joined the Special Forces, the second commando regiment, in 2012 The birth of Emily during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2012.
Four years later, when he was in the first half of the year He was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and paranoia throughout our relationship, but after the stroke, his perception did not improve as quickly as he wished was that he did not process things so quickly, and he had a small black spot in his eyesight, "she explains.
"When you're in a high-performance environment, like the Special Forces, when you're not playing at the highest level, you can say that," Cherne said. "This has created a lot of fear and pressure for him, he began to lose thoughts, he did not believe that defense had his best interests in his heart – even though they told him the opposite – and he got really angry and violent on Friday before he died Monday morning by suicide in our garage. "
"Involving me in the Invictus Games really got me out of bed, I'm getting more resilient," Cherne says. "Today I do not have to climb a mountain, but only one foot in front of the other."
She says that "with their place in the world, Harry and Meghan are so good and use their power and privilege, many of our leaders could learn from it, changing people's lives, changing the way we do looking at mental health worldwide because they care about it, they pay attention to it and fly these Invictus Games – that changes – and saves – every day. "