Tom Parker's wife Kelsey says life 'has to continue' as her grieving is criticised

Kelsey Parker on the red carpet in November 2022, she has addressed the mourning of her husband Tom Parker. (Getty Images)
Kelsey Parker has discussed grieving her husband Tom Parker, explaining that it isn't black and white. (Getty Images)

Tom Parker’s wife, Kelsey Parker, has addressed certain criticism she has faced while mourning her husband's death and how she has been grieving his loss.

The Wanted star died in March at the age of 33 after being diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour.

Discussing the subject on Fearne Cotton's The Happy Podcast, Parker took a moment to respond to any negativity surrounding how she’s mourned her late husband and the father of her two children, explaining that her "life has to continue" and that grieving isn't always straight forward.

"We’re just so black and white in this country," she said.

"People think I should be walking around – I am in a black jacket – but that I should be in black, mourning, wearing my black veil, over my face and not speaking to anyone. But life’s not like that."

Mrs Parker went on to explain that grieving isn't as simple as the public might believe and it encapsulates a whole range of feelings.

"I’ve learnt through this that you can be so many different emotions in one day but even in five minutes," she tells host Fearne Cotton. "I could feel sadness, anger, happy, and be laughing, all literally within the space of five minutes."

She went on to add: "I have been left here. I’ve been left here without Tom. And what do I do with my life now? I can’t be sad, I’ve got two kids. Like how can I wake up every day and be sad?"

Despite the fact she is feeling sad about the loss, the mum-of-two said she needs to keep living.

"Yes, I am sad, but my life has to continue and move on," she explained. "What he’s taught us is that life is so short. Like so short and literally, it can happen like that, it can be sudden. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow so you have to enjoy every day that you’re given here."

The couple, pictured in 2016, have two children together. (Getty Images)
The couple, pictured in 2016, have two children together. (Getty Images)

Read more: Mollie King pays tribute to her dad after his death following brain tumour diagnosis: ‘Heartbroken beyond words’

Why grief is a personal experience

While many may believe they will act and feel a certain way when mourning the loss of a loved one, the truth is that grief is a complicated and highly personal experience, with each individual grieving in their own personal way.

"Each person is different, with individual explanatory styles, individual viewpoints, an individual relationship with the person who has been lost," explains Kath Temple, a psychologist who is about to launch a six week programme on dealing with grief and loss on Goldster.

As well as each bereaved person having individual thoughts and feelings to process, Temple says each circumstance of a loss is different too.

"Some people have shock trauma, some have experienced the shock of a diagnosis followed by a slow decline of the person they love," she explains. "Others may have lost partners to another person, shock trauma again, or there may have been the slow and painful dissolution of a relationship. Some may have suffered a stillbirth, a miscarriage, the loss of a child.

"Every person, and their situation, is different," she continues. "Consequently, everyone has a different journey through grief and loss, different responses, different coping mechanisms, different levels of social support."

Watch: Kelsey Parker opens up about grief and her first Christmas without Tom Parker

Temple says that because everyone will have their own individual process to work through, it is important not to judge people for the way the are grieving, the time taken, and so on.

"Grief doesn’t have a timetable, nor a set of neat boxed in stages to seamlessly pass through," she adds.

It is important however for everyone to learn to emotionally self-regulate if they feel grief has turned to obsession, or if they feel themselves disappearing down a black hole.

"That kind of pathological grief will not serve them, nor those they love in the land of the living," she explains.

And as Kelsey Parker explained herself, it is also important to try to keep living for those who are left behind.

"There is a life to live, even if you have lost someone so very dear to you," Temple says. "It honours them, and you, to move forward, whilst acknowledging your feelings and processing them.

"When we can get to that place of remembering the comforting memories of good times shared, the silly and ridiculous moments that have you laughing at the absurdities and being glad they happened, then you will have turned that corner and untethered from the weight of grief to feel lighter and brighter once more," she adds.

Read more: Dad's headaches diagnosed as brain tumour during opticians appointment

Kelsey Parker's husband, Tom Parker, passed away in March this year after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. (Getty Images)
Kelsey Parker's husband, Tom Parker, passed away in March this year after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. (Getty Images)

With that in mind Temple has put together some tips to help you grieve, no matter your individual circumstances.

Expert tips for grieving

Harness the power of acceptance

Grief and loss can trigger many emotions. "Acknowledge the pain of it, and accurately name the feeling you’re feeling," Temple suggests as accurately naming the feeling can help to diffuse the feeling.

"Notice the physical aspects, the location of the feeling, its size, its shape, give it a colour. Notice its temperature, cool, cold, warm, hot, notice its texture, smooth, rough, prickly, sharp, sludgy. Notice its pressure, light or heavy," she continues.

"When we focus on the physical, accepting it as it is, it has an impact on the emotional and psychological. Now contrast this with the love you felt for the person. Notice where you feel that energy. Notice its size and its shape and its colour. Notice the expansiveness of that energy. Notice its temperature. Notice its texture. Notice its pressure. And notice how they’d wish to be remembered – with love, or with the other feeling? Just notice."

Scale the feelings of loss on a 1-10 scale, 10 being the most intense

According to Temple this breaks feelings into black and white thinking and can help put a perspective on the levels of emotion being experienced.

"It also helps you contrast the levels, and helps you acknowledge the changing landscape of grief, and recognise recovery and better days," she adds.

Accept tears as a normal part of grieving

Tears can be cleansing. "When we cry our tears contain the neuropeptides of the emotion we are feeling," Temple explains.

Read more: Will Mellor says sorry for 'Strictly' tears: Why do we apologise for crying?

Frame the grief as love with nowhere to go

"Give great thanks that you have known the gift of love, that you are able to love, you have given love, and you have received love," Temple suggests.

Creatively express the feelings

There are many different ways to creatively express your loss. "Journal the journey, draw or paint the feelings, write poetry, write a letter to the person you’ve lost and release it," suggests Temple.

Seek out and draw comfort from supportive people in your life

Temple recommends trying to meet with them face to face. "The old saying of a trouble shared is a trouble halved, has some truth in it," she explains. "Our social connections can massively help us with the grieving process, and it ensures we are not socially isolated. Social connections are good for our health, our mental health, and for our recovery from grief and loss."