Rio Ferdinand breaks down in tears as he opens up about trying to keep his family going after the death of his wife


by Emma Dodds |
Published on

Ex-England footballer Rio Ferdinand has filmed a documentary about coming to terms with the death of his wife Rebecca, and how he has helped his children to grieve

Legendary footballer Rio Ferdinand made headlines in 2015 - but it was not for the usual reasons you may expect of a footballer.

The dad-of-three revealed that his beautiful wife, Rebecca Ellison, had tragically and suddenly passed away from breast cancer.

Since then, he has found it difficult to move on from her death.

Rio emotionally opens up about his wife Rebecca's death (Credit: BBC) ©BBC

In a new BBC documentary airing tonight on BBC One at 9pm, the ex-England star is set to open up all about his grief after the death of his wife.

Entitled Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad, the programme will show how Rio struggled to come to terms with Rebecca's death for a long time.

Rebecca first received treatment for breast cancer in 2013, but it returned more aggressively in March 2015. The family were told she may have another two to five years, but she tragically passed away on 2 May 2015. She was 34-years-old.

Rebecca passed away in May 2015 after a battle with breast cancer (Credit: Rex Features) ©Rex Features

In a video promoting the doc, Rio, dad to Lorenz, 10, Tate, nine and Tia, five, describes his life immediately after Rebecca had passed away.

He says: "Those three months in hospital before Rebecca passed away were incredibly difficult. You just don't believe that the worst scenario can happen."

Rio describes how he knows he needs to do something, but he's not sure what: "At this point, I just ain't into seeing a therapist. Feelings and emotions ain't something that I am good at speaking about. I want to see people that have been through this situation, experience what I've experienced and who can give me some knowledge first hand."

Rio broke down when talking about Rebecca (Credit: BBC) ©BBC

Rio speaks to a widower name Ben Brooks-Dutton, whose wife passed away in 2012. Ben said: "I think I needed to speak to someone that had gone through or was going through the same thing as me to be able to say, 'You know what mate, it's going to be all right, and I've raised this kid and he's doing all right'.

"So I started my blog which turned into a private group for young widowers. It's often referred to as Fight Club as well because the stuff we talk about in there doesn't get spoken about anywhere else. Grief gets you, at some point."

Later, Rio says: "She'll come into my head and I will try and put it in a box there and get on with something.

"There's a lot in my life where I know I've not moved on and is it because of little things like my wedding ring? I don't see myself taking it off but the other men in the group said it was things like that which were holding them back.

"Do you need to do those things to be able to breathe properly again and move on in your life?"

Rio is now bringing up his three children - Lorenz, 10, Tate, nine and Tia, five (Credit: Instagram/ Rio Ferdinand) ©Instagram/ Rio Ferdinand

But a second video promo for the show, shared by Match of the Day's Facebook page, shows a more emotional side to the 38-year-old sportsman.

In this video, he tearingly says: "I loved my wife more than anything. Me and Rebecca, we had an unbelievable relationship. The last time she was at home, she tried to talk about it but I just blocked it out, I wouldn't talk."

He then discusses the impact that Rebecca's death has had on his children: "This is one of the only things in life that we're going to go through together, where I haven't got the answers for them, and that's quite a worrying and daunting thing."

The ex-England footballer was struggling to cope (Credit: BBC) ©BBC

He continues: "When they don't speak it's kind of difficult sometimes because you're just sitting there asking yourself, 'What are they thinking, where are they? Are they worried, happy, sad?'"

At this point, he completely breaks down: "I worry about all of them, but I can't get anything out of the two boys especially, it's hard. I want something to help them to be able to talk and to be able to... Not to help me in any way but just so I know that they're actually alright, because I don't know."

He then reveals that he's started to turn it around, and beginning to "open up a little bit". He describes how he finds himself "opening my mind" and allowing himself to think about "little moments" he had with his wife, which he didn't feel able to do before.

He says: "I feel I'm equipped far better now than I was when I started this."

You can watch the heartbreaking videos below.

Have you or a loved one ever lost someone close to you? Did you have children? How did you help them to grieve? Let us know over on Facebook and Twitter.

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