Simon Thomas recalls 'horrendous' grief over wife's death

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Media caption,
Simon Thomas' wife Gemma died three days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia

Sky Sports anchor Simon Thomas has recalled the "horrendous" moment he had to tell his son Ethan that his mother had died.

Thomas's wife, Gemma, died suddenly last year aged 40, three days after she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

"I took [Ethan] upstairs, I sat him on my lap and looked into his eyes," Thomas told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I would never wish this on my worst enemy. You can't dress it up.

"I said you know mummy wasn't well today - I'm afraid mummy's died. And he collapsed onto the floor and the tears... we rolled around the floor together.

"It was horrendous, there's no other way of saying it. But I held him as tight as I could and I kept saying we will be OK, this is the hardest thing we will ever go through."

Image source, Rex Features
Image caption,
Simon Thomas said his wife Gemma died 'surrounded by family and friends'

In his first in-depth interview since the death of his wife in November, an emotional Thomas described his grief since Gemma's death as "horrific" and "devastating".

"I'd gone - in the space of three days - from being a Dad, from being a husband, to being single," he said.

'I rage at God'

Thomas said that he has struggled with his Christian faith since Gemma's death.

"I rage at God. The first thing I did when I came out of hospital I probably woke up most of the patients there I just screamed at God 'Why? Why have you done this?'" he explained

"Why on earth let Ethan now be a motherless boy? You know it's been hard enough getting him used to the idea he's not going to have a brother or sister, now I've got to help him through life without a mother.

"Some people have said on social media that they let go of Christianity but I'm being honest, I'm clinging on by my fingers."

Thomas also recalled his final words to Gemma in the last hours before she died.

Image source, PA

"I talked about how we first met, I talked about our wedding day.

"Ethan came in a couple of times and I just said 'Mummy's really ill, just tell her you love her', and that's what he did. He didn't need to know she was on her way.

"I'm glad that she never had to know that she'd never see Ethan again - that would have broken her heart. His last memory of mum will be 'yeah she wasn't well but she looked like mum'."

'Not very good being on my own'

Thomas added that one question eight-year-old Ethan asked him in the aftermath of her death is whether he would consider marrying again.

Asked how he replied, Thomas said: "I'm not going to lie, I have thought about it. I'm not very good at being on my own.

"I had a year living on my own. I don't enjoy my own company. I just don't enjoy being on my own. So I said one day you'll go out and have a job so maybe I will. But I have to find someone who likes me first of all and hopefully loves me."

The former Blue Peter presenter was praised for a blog post published shortly after Gemma's death, in which he said he was feeling broken, fearful, vulnerable and tear-filled.

He told 5 live: "What I've come to understand is in this country we're not very good at talking about grief. Because we don't know how to do it.

"And if you don't, you're like a bottle of Coke that over time just gets gently shaken, gently shaken, until one day, it explodes. A friend of mine said she didn't speak about her mother for five years after she died.

"I said, 'What happened at the end of five years?' She said, 'it was a mess, because everything came flooding out.' And I just knew right from the start from that very first day, I had to talk."

If you, or someone you know, has been affected by bereavement BBC Action Line has details of organisations which can offer advice and support.

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