Bereaved young people supported by Child Bereavement UK gave Rio Ferdinand some tips on how to talk to his children about the death of their mum. Rio’s wife, Rebecca, and mum to Lorenz, 10, Tate, 8, and Tia, 5, died of cancer in 2015.
As part of filming for his BBC1 documentary, Being Mum and Dad, Rio visited Child Bereavement UK’s offices in Buckinghamshire to attend their Young People’s Advisory Group session.
The young people, aged between 11-25, talked to him about their experiences around the death of their parent and what had helped them. They made and presented a selection of posters with tips for Rio which included: ‘it’s okay to cry’; ‘it’s important to talk about the person who has died’ and ‘it’s okay to laugh and have fun’. They also told him that ‘cars are good conversation venues’.
On meeting Rio, Keeley, 15, who was supported by Child Bereavement UK after her mum died when she was 8, said:
“It was inspirational to meet Rio and to know that he wanted to listen to us so he could help his children.”
In the BBC1 documentary, Rio gives a candid account of the impact of his wife’s death on him and his family, the complexities of his grieving and the challenges of being a widowed parent to his children.
The former England captain has spoken about the difficulties he faced getting his children to talk about their mum and how using the memory jar, a method used by the young people at Child Bereavement UK to help them talk about and remember the person who has died, helped his children. In an interview with the BBC, Rio describes it as turning things ‘from dark to bright.’
Jackie Grant, Youth Worker at Child Bereavement UK commented: “The memory jar is one of the many activities we suggest to families at Child Bereavement UK, especially when there is a worry about forgetting their special person or children are quite young and are relying on other people’s memories. It helps them to collect memories for them to create a picture of what their special person was like. It was wonderful that Rio used this with his children.”
Being Mum and Dad airs on Tuesday 28 March at 9pm, BBC1.