Simon Thomas and his son Ethan speak about their enduring heartache
7th December 2018

‘So often grief grabs you in the mundane’: Former Sky presenter Simon Thomas and his young son Ethan speak about their enduring heartache one year after losing his wife Gemma

  • Simon Thomas, 45, told Good Morning Britain he left notes in his son’s lunchbox 
  • The former Sky presenter spoke about how the loss of wife Gemma still hits him 
  • Gemma died three days after being diagnosed with myeloid leukaemia in 2017

Presenter Simon Thomas has revealed how he and his son Ethan are dealing with his wife’s sudden death a year on – describing how grief can hit them at unexpected moments. 

Simon Thomas opened up about dealing with wife Gemma’s death, three days after she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, in November 2017. 

The Sky Sports star told Good Morning Britain (GMB) he began leaving notes in his son’s lunchbox.

Ethan, now nine, went back to school a week after his mother’s death to attempt to restore some normality to his world after it was turned upside down.

Mr Thomas said: ‘I found it so hard when he went back to school. 

‘When mum went that quick everything changes.

‘He was back within a week I wanted him to know I was still with him– not physically but in spirit.

Simon Thomas and son Ethan spoke about how the loss of wife and mother Gemma Thomas hits them at the most ‘mundane’ moments 

The pair told Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway how they are learning to deal with the loss together

Gemma Thomas was looking forward to holidays with her husband and son Ethan, but died just three days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia

Simon with his wife and son. He wrote: ‘This [picture] was taken just eight months ago. Unbeknown to us then, this would be the last ever photo of the three of us on holiday’

Simon has bravely documented his grief on social media following his wife Gemma’s death, three days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia

The Sky Sports star shared this candid picture with his social media followers after his wife’s death 

‘I think as any parent whose lost a wife or husband and there’s kids involved you feel so much pain on their behalf and one thing you mourn is the losses for mummy. The years he should have enjoyed.

‘The lost years with loved ones who are gone.

‘You feel a huge amount of pain. I can just about deal with my own pain and then I look at this little one playing on his own.

‘He drives me out of bed in the morning.

‘The adjustment to being a single parent in itself has been a big challenge. Looking after him is an amazing privilege.’ 

When Ethan went back to school there were no other children who had experienced losing a parent and the year four student felt ‘very alone’.

But the notes and a close teaching assistant helped him through his early stages of grief. 

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He said: ‘Even if I am at school I still feel daddy is still here with me.

‘The (other children) didn’t really know what exactly happened.

‘My teaching assistant Mrs Basil helped me make cards I can show to a teacher and they let me have a time out.’

For Simon, it is the smallest things which can trigger his emotions, he said. 

Speaking about a scene in the ITV ‘Time is a Gift’ campaign video, which shows a man pulling down two cups before remembering he is alone, Mr Thomas said he has done the same.

He added: ‘So often grief grabs you in the mundane

‘I’ve done it so many times –without thinking you take two mugs down.’

Mr Thomas also encouraged people to pledge time to the 1 Million Minutes campaign to end loneliness.

‘My friends and family were great. But for the first six or seven weeks you get messages from some people saying ‘if there’s anything you need’.

‘I look back a year later and think ‘where were you? 

‘If you’re going to pledge your time then deliver – it’s all too easy to forget.’

To pledge time in the 1 Million minutes campaign visit the ITV website.

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