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Rio Ferdinand's tears for his children as he doesn't know how to help them grieve for their tragic mum

Mirror logo Mirror 21/03/2017 Nicola Methven
Rio Ferdinand can't hold back his tears © Mirror Rio Ferdinand can't hold back his tears

Rio Ferdinand breaks down in tears as he says he does not know how to help his kids grieve for their mum.

The former England and Manchester United star admits he thought about taking his own life in the dark days after wife Rebecca lost her battle against breast cancer two years ago, aged 34.

He tells a poignant TV documentary: “When I used to hear about people who’d committed suicide I’d think, ‘You selfish so-and-so, how can you do something like that?’

"But there’s a time at the beginning you kind of know how they feel.”

He says he was not ready to face counselling straight after Rebecca’s death.

Later he tells a therapist he is most worried about eldest son Lorenz, 10, who has barely spoken about his mum’s death. 

“I get nothing out of the two boys,” says Rio, whose second son Tate, seven, and daughter Tia, five, also appear.

The film follows the footballer on an intensely personal journey exploring how bereaved parents try to come to terms with their loss and mould new lives for themselves and their children.

Credits: TV Grab © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: TV Grab

He says: “I don’t think I’ve grieved properly. I’ve not given myself that time to sit down and really flush everything out and go through it. I don’t like to think. I don’t want certain thoughts running around my head.”

Rio found it helpful to meet other dads who have lost their wives.

“There were so many situations where I thought ‘Oh, I thought that was just me,’” he says afterwards. “I know I haven’t moved on. I don’t see myself taking off my wedding ring.”

Credits: Splash News

Credits: Splash News
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

Rio admits he first turned to whisky and brandy to cope with the shock of losing Rebecca. She had beaten breast cancer two years earlier and by the time medics found the disease had returned it had spread.

She died five weeks later at London’s Royal Marsden hospital.

Golfer Darren Clarke, who lost his wife Heather to cancer in 2006, tells Rio: “The best thing you can do for your kids is to let them see you smile now and again.

“That will transfer to them like you won’t believe.”

Clarke, who had two sons with Heather and has now remarried, adds: “I never thought I could be this happy again. You’re young, and life does go on.”

His words prove a turning point for Rio, who has spent months agonising over what to do for the best with his ­children. He said: “He’s made me realise that if I’m happy, they’ll be happy.”

A big help is the introduction of a “memory jar” – a large bottle into which the three of them can put memories of their mother on little bits of paper.

Writing about her mum and drawing pictures, Tia says: “I like doing this. I’m going to do it every day.”

And Rio is thrilled when Lorenz wants to write down his mum’s favourite Ed Sheeran songs. Rio says afterwards: “We can talk about Rebecca now. That memory jar has changed everything.”

Speaking since filming, Rio revealed he bought bottles of his wife’s perfume for the kids. He said: “I can smell it sometimes, they’ve sprayed it on their pillows or on something they sleep with.

“This film has been like therapy. I feel she’d be looking down saying ‘well done’.”

Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum And Dad, is on BBC1 on Tuesday March 28 at 9pm.


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