Rio Ferdinand: ‘How do you tell your kids they’re never going to see their mum again?’


by Emma Dodds |
Published on

Rio Ferdinand opened up on Good Morning Britain about his BBC One documentary Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad

Rio Ferdinand has for most of his life been most well-known for being a footballing legend and an ex-England captain.

But now the world are being shown a different side to him.

His BBC One documentary Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad aired last night at 9pm, moving pretty much every single viewer to tears.

The show documented Rio's grieving process (Credit: BBC Pictures) ©BBC Pictures

The documentary followed Rio on his journey of grief after his wife, Rebecca Ellison - love of his life and mother to his three children - passed away in 2015 after a battle with cancer.

In the documentary, we saw Rio describe how he'd dealt with her death thus far - he basically hadn't.

But he had his three beautiful children to think of - Lorenz, 10, Tate, nine and Tia, five, who were all devastated at the loss of their mum.

The documentary then showed Rio visiting various bereavement groups and counsellors, finally breaking down and showing emotion after months and months of not doing that.

Rio had been bottling up his emotions (Credit: BBC) ©BBC

This morning, Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid spoke to the footballing legend about how he actually told his children that their mum wouldn't be coming home. He said: "I told them her spirit was going away," gesturing towards the sky, adding: "'Mummy's going to be up there and she'll always be looking over you'."

He continued: "As we were leaving the ward, one of my boys asked, 'What are all these cards on the wall?'. They were thank you messages to the staff and the nurses on the ward and he said, 'Well, they didn't help my mum'. The way that the kids see it in black and white – that's it.

"People always say how children are so resilient, but the worst thing about anything in life is when you don't know - my two boys hadn't wanted to show emotion or speak about their mum, and it's wondering how you do you initiate that first conversation? That's what I was finding difficult."

The former England captain opened up on Good Morning Britain (Credit: ITV) ©ITV

He then explained how telling his kids was actually the hardest part about her death aside from it itself. He said: "I think for any parent to have to tell their kids, 'You're going to leave your hospital and you're never going to see your mum again' is a hard thing to do.

"To put it into words for young kids – mine at the time were nine, seven and four – and to break it into 'little people' words in a way they can understand is hard. They could end up being totally scarred by that one little message that I give them. I wanted to give it to them in a way where they could look back and think, 'Yeah, he put that in the best way possible'."

Piers then brought up the tragic death of Aysha Frade who was killed in the London terror attack on Westminster Bridge last week. She was on the way to pick her two children up from school when Khalid Masood drove his car into her and killed her.

Rebecca passed away in 2015 from cancer (Credit: Rex Features) ©Rex Features

The presenter asked Rio whether he had any words of advice for her widower, John, and he said: "I think there's no denying that it's going to be a hard period of time for him, but what I got from my journey was the importance of talking as soon as possible to anyone - friends, anyone who will listen.

"Talk about your feelings, talk about the future, work out the pathway for your children and more importantly – talk to your children. Let them see emotion, let them see you cry, let them see you show weakness but also strength. I think if you do that your children will grow enormously."

Rio's children - Lorenz, 10, Tate, nine and Tia, five on World Book Day (Credit: Instagram/ Rio Ferdinand) ©Instagram/ Rio Ferdinand

Rio then explained that his three children have not yet seen the documentary: "I think they will one day, I've done this for them to watch at some point but I think they're still too young to take it all in yet."

Of his children now, he said: "They're great – you wouldn't pick them out in a group of 20 as kids who have lost their mum. They're enjoying life, they're busy, they have structure in their lfie which their mum put in place and which I'm keen to carry on."

Rio spoke to Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain (Credit: Twitter/ Good Morning Britain)

To watch Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad on BBC iPlayer, click here - it's available until 27 April.

Did you watch Rio's documentary? Have you lost a loved one yourself? Did you find watching Rio helpful? We'd love to hear from you - get in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

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