SIMON Thomas has opened up about how he wanted to end his life after his wife suddenly died from cancer.
The former Sky Sports presenter turned to alcohol to escape the pain of his grief – but was ultimately saved by his bond with his son Ethan.
In his new book, Simon, 46, revealed how his lowest point came when he hit the bottle on the first New Year’s Eve following his wife’s death.
Simon had sworn off alcohol in the months before his wife Gemma became ill after having a difficult relationship with booze in his younger years.
But he told how the “wheels fell off” a month after Gemma, 40, died from leukaemia – just three days after her cancer diagnosis in November 2017.
“I wanted — needed — to escape the pain, and at first that's exactly what the alcohol did. But then it took my mind to a much darker place,” he wrote in his book, serialised in the Daily Mail.
He was staying at his sister’s house over New Year when he decided to walk out into the garden on a freezing night.
“I lay on the ground and as I looked up into the night sky and the beautiful constellations of stars above me, I wanted to end it. I no longer had the strength or the will to carry on,” he said.
“And then into my mind came the unmistakable image of Ethan's face, his innocent eyes looking back at me.
“They were the eyes of a boy who had just been dealt the hardest blow any child can receive; a boy who didn't deserve to lose his dad as well.”
GIVEN UP BOOZE
After battling with drink over the early winter months of 2018, Simon agreed to go to Alcoholics Anonymous.
It was during these sessions that Simon found the strength to give up alcohol for good.
He has also opened up about his battle with depression in 2017 – months before his wife’s diagnosis.
Simon has also described the heartbreaking moment he had to tell his nine-year-old son his "mummy has died".
The presenter said his "hands were trembling" as he broke the heartbreaking news to little Ethan.
"My hands were trembling on his shoulders as I started to speak," he wrote.
"I said, 'Ethan, you know Mummy hasn’t been very well …?'
"He slowly nodded but said nothing.
"'Well, today Mummy became really, really poorly, which is why you came into the hospital to see her.'
"He was silent and carried on looking intensely into my eyes, and my heart was beating faster and faster.
"I said, 'I’m so, so sorry… the doctors tried everything to make Mummy better, but…'
"Before the words could even form in my mouth, tears filled his eyes and he cried out, 'Has Mummy died?'
"Every part of me wanted to somehow sugar-coat what I had to say, but I knew, for his sake, I couldn’t.
"His legs began to buckle and I said what I’d never imagined saying in my worst nightmares: ‘I’m so, so sorry, but Mummy’s died.’"
Simon turned to drink and battled suicidal thoughts as he struggled to deal with the devastation of losing Gemma so suddenly.
He also suffered with severe sleep-loss – but turned to writing about his traumatic experience as a way to cope.
Now, the former Blue Peter host is set to publish his memoirs – which will detail the grief he and his family suffered after Gemma's death in 2017.
Ahead of its publication, Simon also described how he and Ethan pay tribute to his soulmate with a new nightly bedtime ritual.
The father and son both talk to Gemma as Simon tucks Ethan into bed – and tell her that they hope she's "having a good time in Heaven."
Little Ethan explained: "I tell Mummy how much we love her; stuff like that.
"And that I miss her cooking, her lovely hazelnut eyes, and her huggles" – his word for his mum's heartwarming hug and cuddle.
Simon is now dating church minister’s daughter Derrina Jebb, 27, who has helped him and Ethan cope with their loss.
He recently admitted he feels “guilty” about his new relationship – asking himself: "Is it too early?"
Simon told Marie Curie’s annual Great Daffodil Appeal launch in March: "Gemma will always be a presence in my life. She will never ever be forgotten.
"For my son’s sake, and mine as well, there will be a third presence in this relationship.
"I know Gemma would be happy for me."
And bravely opening up about his mental health battle, Simon revealed he was twice on the verge of taking his life.
He said: "I had a decision to make and there were at least two moments where I nearly did end it.
"My boy has been the single biggest reason I kept going.
“But I don’t have reservations about talking about that because it can be the difference between life and death.
"The stakes can be that high for people going through mental health problems.”
Last month it was announced Simon was joining This Morning to discuss mental health and alternative therapies.
- Love, Interrupted: Navigating Grief One Day At A Time by Simon Thomas will be released by Trigger on June 15 at £12.99.
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