Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD was a pioneer in the mental health world known for creating, writing about, and studying what she called the five stages of loss. The stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It’s generally understood by clinicians and grief counselors that when people experience any type of loss, including both sickness and death, they move through some or all of these stages in their own personal way, hardly ever in order, often multiple times, and over a unique period of time.
The mourning process is undoubtedly complex regardless of the theory you believe, though no stage has ever included ‘see a forged picture of your deceased mother and/or beloved Princess talking with your new wife and/or beloved Duchess on the cover of Newsweek magazine and figure out a way to digest it without feeling ill, confused, and disgusted.’ Congratulations Tina Brown, editor of Newsweek magazine, you’ve just hit a new low.
To celebrate what would be Princess Diana’s 50th birthday this week, Brown thought it would be a fabulous idea to distastefully and disrespectfully exploit the People's Princess by publishing a cover photo of the late Diana, depicted as Brown and her team of photo-shoppers thought she may have looked today had she still been alive. Even more appalling, the image is superimposed over a photo of Duchess Catherine as though the two women are walking together and socializing. The level of poor taste that this cover displays is truly beyond description, though many of the comments I’ve read thus far have summed it up quite nicely; “My subscription to Newsweek has officially been canceled.”
To add insult to injury, there were additional pictures created by the Brown horror-team showing Diana holding an iPhone, managing a Facebook page with a relationship status of “it’s complicated,” and participating in a Twitter account. And worry not, there’s also an article written by Tina Brown herself to go with this photo monstrosity, most tastefully described as around 1500 words of celebrity science fiction. I’m sorry, did I mention this was in Newsweek?
As a pop-culture commentator myself, I absolutely understand the importance of creativity, generating interest, and the power of speculation. I even wrote a column titled, “A Letter From Heaven” with the support and guidance of The Morton Report Publisher, Andrew Morton (and Diana's official biographer), that was published on Prince William and Kate’s wedding day. The letter speculated, with as much factual information and empathy as possible, what Diana might have said to her son and his bride that day -- not had she been alive, but had she been able to make her voice heard -- a fine line that Tina Brown, both socially and emotionally, neglectfully overlooked.
A healthy and sophisticated remembrance of Princess Diana’s life on the cover of a major news outlet would never have included a curiosity about who she would have become, but rather, a celebration of who she in fact was. The article was based on assumed additions to Princess Diana’s character, including her taste in men, relationship with modern electronics and social media, and choice of friendships and confidantes. It was both an unfair misrepresentation and a profound contradiction, from a clinical perspective, to the very real, appropriate, and continuous mourning process that a vast number of people, including Diana’s children, likely move through on an ongoing basis.
In the last words of her column, Brown says, “ Diana still lives and is vibrant in his (William’s) memory. And in ours.” If she in fact believed her own words, Tina Brown would have simply celebrated Princess Diana on the cover of Newsweek rather than disrespecting her memory by doing the one thing that caused her life to be lost in the first place: chasing her for a story.