Jeff Brazier has given an emotional account of how he has guided his sons through the grief of losing their mum Jade Goody.
Reality TV star Jade died of cervical cancer in 2009 at the age of 27, leaving behind sons Bobby and Freddie, who were aged just five and four at the time.
Their father Jeff, who was no longer in a relationship with Jade at the time of her death, has brought up the boys since then and has published a book called The Grief Survival Guide about their experiences.
Speaking on ITV’s Loose Women, Jeff talked about how they had broken the news of Jade’s terminal illness to their sons.
He said: “Obviously it was Jade that had to tell them she wasn’t going to be around any longer.
“Can you imagine anything harder and more unfair than that? But she did a very courageous job of telling them that she was being sent for by God to do a job for him and was going to become a very bright star and they would see her in the sky. That was what felt right to her at the time.
“My job was to stand outside of the hospital room that she was in and make sure that they really absorbed that information because I was very aware at the time that it would be very easy for them to dismiss the words they’d just heard.
“I wondered what they were going to be like when they came out and they ran into the playroom and just carried on playing as if nothing had happened, which was something I feared more than screaming and shouting because at least then they would have registered it.”
Talking about telling them that she had died, he said: “All day I was thinking when is the right time to give them the most impossible news you’ll ever have to give anyone.
“Jade maybe took care of that one because at bedtime we went outside and there was one very bright star in the sky and they saw it and I think knew themselves.”
Jeff became choked with tears as he said: “It was unclear to me what my grief should be because she wasn’t my partner at the time, although she brought those children into the world with me.”
The TV presenter added that he had helped his sons through some difficult feelings.
He said: “The worst thing that I haven’t heard many times but really takes you off your feet is, ‘I wish it was you in heaven and not mummy’.
“I accept it and I’ve learned over the years to hear the meaning behind the words – it’s almost a privilege for me that they’re saying, ‘Dad I’m struggling, please help me’.”
On his own methods of coping, he said: “I made my circle a lot smaller.
“My social life changed dramatically, there were things that I would have felt selfish to participate in when I know that my children need me.
“We have a mother’s day every month so that those occasions don’t seem so overwhelming for them, but for me, I put it away separately and focused on the kids and maybe that was avoidance.”
Jeff said they had gone out for a meal last night to celebrate Jade’s birthday.
He said: “We still have a few of her very good friends who are still very much an active part of the boys’ lives and I thank them for that, because ultimately they take the children back to that time when mum was still here, they’re vital to them.
“It never leaves the table to be honest, it’s always on our minds.”