Former England captain Rio lost wife Rebecca in 2015
The loss of a partner, and the parent to your children must be an unimaginably difficult thing to deal with – and unfortunately, this was exactly the situation faced by former England football captain Rio Ferdinand in May 2015, when wife Rebecca died after a battle with breast cancer.
Though he’s kept pretty much away from the spotlight and speaking on his heartbreak ever since, Rio is now ready to share his story with an emotional TV documentary – and in a new chat, he’s revealed that in the immediate aftermath of Rebecca’s passing, he turned to alcohol.
Rio, 28, and Rebecca married in 2009 and had three children together: 10-year-old Lorenz, eight-year-old Tate, and Tia, five. When Rebecca died aged 34, Rio then had to learn how to take on much more of the household tasks, such as the school run – and it was a tough adjustment. He tells Hello! magazine:
‘At the beginning I was distraught…I kept looking at my kids and thinking “How do I make it so that they can have a normal life?” And I kept looking at myself and thinking: “I’m not talking to any counsellors.”’
In fact, Rio admits he turned to drinking as a way of managing his pain at the beginning – but the realisation that he had the important job of parenting to do, he was able to snap out of it:
‘When the kids were in bed I used to drink quite hard. Because I had people helping, it was almost as if I didn’t have to wake up, but then I thought: “Okay, I’ve got responsibilities now.”
Though clearly a heart-wrenching time for the whole family, Rio also explained that his life working in football environment had made it difficult for him to fully realise his feelings.
‘I’m used to a changing-room environment, a masculine, macho place where it’s all right to cry at football matches, but when it comes to bereavement, it’s looked upon as a bit of a weakness.’
However in his TV documentary, viewers are able to see him as he learns how to grieve and teaching his children – the boys in particular – how to express their emotions without shame. It’s sure to be a tear-jerking watch; have your tissues at the ready…
Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad is on BBC1 on Tuesday 28 March at 9.00pm