Reach Out To Friends Who Are Aching With Grief — One Day You’ll Need Them


AS a nation we are notoriously bad at knowing what to say to people who are dealing with grief.

It’s either platitudes that sound mealy-mouthed even as you utter them, such as “She’s looking down on you” or “He’s in a better place”.

Instagram This week Lorraine Kelly spoke to TV ­presenter Simon Thomas, whose wife Gemma died ­suddenly last November

Or some of us, who cannot even face seeing someone bereaved, ignore them ­completely and cross the street to avoid having to say anything at all.

We all have to deal with deep sorrow, and at some point people we love dearly will die, so it’s utterly bizarre that we effectively put our ­fingers in our ears and go “la la la” and ignore the inevitable.

Perhaps it all comes down to fear but we really need a change of attitude.

This week I spoke to TV ­presenter Simon Thomas, whose wife Gemma died ­suddenly last November after suffering from bad headaches for several weeks. She was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and died a few days later. Gemma was just 40 years old.

Rex Features Simon Thomas’ wife Gemma was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and died a few days later

Simon had to tell their eight- year-old son Ethan that his mum was dead, and the two of them have been trying to cope ever since.

Everyone mourns the death of someone they have loved and adored in different ways.

There’s no timetable for grief, and no “one size fits all” way to get through the whole soul-crushing experience. For Simon, the death of his wife felt like a physical illness and being in intensive care.

He decided to leave his job at Sky Sports to be with Ethan full time and they now both have an unbreakable bond.

Instagram Gemma was just 40 years old when she tragically passed away

Simon is obviously very ­protective of his young son, but that works both ways.

Ethan will often tell his dad that he is OK even when he is really suffering and missing his mum, because he doesn’t want Simon to worry about him, or to add to his dad’s pain.

He sounds like a remarkable young lad who is a credit to both of his parents.

For Simon, one of the worst things about Gemma’s death is the acute loneliness.

Instagram Simon Thomas decided to leave his job at Sky Sports to be with son Ethan full time and they now have an unbreakable bond

After he has put Ethan to bed and he is in the living room, there’s no Gemma on the sofa watching TV or just chatting about the mundane events of the day.

He often breaks down while making dinner for two rather than three, or emptying the dishwasher or doing other household tasks they used to share but that he now has to do by himself.

It’s those little things that bind us together, and that we miss so very much.

Simon told me that there are those who have simply not been in touch since Gemma died. It’s not because they don’t care, but because they just don’t know what to say to him and Ethan.

Twitter Simon has been open with his feelings on social media after the tragedy

It was interesting to hear him say that the most comforting sympathy he received was from a woman he bumped into in the supermarket, who knew Gemma from meeting her at the school gate.

She simply told him that it was “utter crap, totally unfair and completely f*****g hellish”.

And it is.

When someone you love dies, it is utterly s**t and it does no harm to say that.

Simon Thomas admits ‘loneliness is brutal’ seven months after wife Gemma’s tragic death

Telling a bereaved person you are sorry for their “loss” is well meaning and comes with the best possible intentions, but we “lose” car keys, credit cards and dog leads.

Those we loved are ripped from our arms and our hearts and it feels like the end of the world.

Those feelings don’t really ever go away — you just somehow learn to live with them.

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