Tom Parker’s widow Kelsey has opened up on how people ‘don’t know what to say’ to her following her husband’s death, to the point they’ll cross the road rather than speak with her.
The Wanted singer died aged 33 in March, after being diagnosed with a stage four glioblastoma brain tumour almost two years prior.
Now Kelsey, 32 – who has kids Aurelia, three, and Bodhi, two, with Parker – has said some people have struggled with what to say to her at times, but she admits it is tough to ‘understand’ her life of the last three years.
She said: ‘They feel awkward around me; they cross the street to avoid me. They don’t know what to say.
‘I want to say, “There is more to me than Tom being dead”.’
Kelsey went on: ‘Friends find it hard to relate to, because until you’ve done everything I’ve done over the past three years, you can’t really understand my life. Because it’s been so tough.
How to support a grieving friend – according to experts
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say – particularly if you think someone is struggling but is not being upfront about how they are feeling.
‘Starting a conversation about their general wellbeing is always a good place to start,’ psychological therapist Somia Zaman suggests. ‘This can then gently lead to questions like ‘do you feel like you might need some support in dealing with things right now?’
Linda Gask, psychiatrist and author of Finding True North, advises using simple, non-assuming questions like: ‘How can I help?’ or ‘How are you doing?’
She adds: ‘Not everyone wants to talk and it may be some time before a person is ready to after a loss.’
Laura McDonald, BWRT psychological practitioner advises that statements can also be helpful, in addition to questions. Things like:
‘This must be a difficult time for you.’
‘I am here if you need to talk, or just to have someone there.’
‘If I can do anything to help, let me know’
‘We are getting together on this date, you are very welcome to join us, if not we completely understand, just let us know if we can help you in any way.’
This can help a person feel supported, without putting any expectation on them to feel as though they have to provide an answer to what they are being asked.
‘They’ll hate me for saying it, but the majority of the men in my family would rather have their heads buried in a hole in the garden than talk about it. But death is the one thing guaranteed to happen to us. It’s almost as if we’re all scared to die.’
Kelsey finds life particularly hard in the evenings when the children go to bed, and explained she even misses having arguments with Parker.
Opening up on Parker’s diagnosis, Kelsey also revealed she searched for different medical treatments from around the world in a bid to try to find a ‘miracle’ cure for Parker’s brain tumour.
Kelsey added to The Times: ‘It was massive tough love. Tom was probably thinking, “Oh my God, just leave me alone.” I was always like, “This is what we’re doing next.” We were speaking to doctors in America, Mexico, Germany. I just had tunnel vision. Even in the final days I was still trying to make a miracle happen. I needed to elevate him: he was so scared of death. And it makes it easier to bear his death, knowing I did everything I could. I left no stone unturned.’
Kelsey, who married Parker in 2018, recently explained she is doing everything she can to keep Parker’s memory alive for their children.
She said: ‘Bodhi is just two. With Aurelia, it’s been six months, it’s very matter of fact her dad has died and now she’ll just pick things up (at home) and be like, “Oh that was my Dad’s.” So she does understand.
‘If she sees him… obviously there’s so many photos around the house, she’ll be like, “Oh that’s mummy and daddy when they got married.” We really talk about him in the house… it’s so important to keep him alive for them.’
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