DAYS after Simon Thomas’s wife, Gemma, died from acute myeloid leukaemia, the former Blue Peter and Sky Sports presenter stood outside his home screaming and shouting at God in rage.
“The tears fell, as the anger I had felt towards the world, and God, and every bloody thing spilled out. I was shouting, over and over again, screaming out ‘No!’ louder and louder, in huge, wrenching bursts of rage. The sense of injustice that Gemma’s life had been stolen from her, and the anger that my boy had been left without his mother was flooding out.”
Love, Interrupted is a raw first-hand account by Thomas, a committed Christian, of the 12 months after his wife’s death, just days after diagnosis in November 2017. In touching detail, he tells how he has coped with suddenly being a single parent with an eight-year-old son.
Thomas also writes honestly about his struggles with debilitating work-based stress in the months before Gemma’s death, and his issues with alcohol.
In this gripping autobiography, written in the early stages of facing up to the emotions of bereavement, pain, and loss, Thomas looks back at his life before his wife’s death, the events around the tragedy, and how his relationship with his son, Ethan, has developed.
Thomas chronicles his anguish with candour and writes of “12 things I learnt about grief” as a final chapter — making helpful reading for any minister supporting the bereaved.
He also plots his spiritual journey, and paints a picture of how, with the support of his church and a circle of friends, his faith helped him to come to terms with his new reality.
Minutes after Thomas found himself shouting at God, he recalled: “I sensed a presence alongside me on that riverbank — I felt the presence of Jesus. I could feel him, just sitting beside me, crying with me. I know if you don’t have a faith, this will sound ridiculous; but on that morning it felt so very real.”
Thomas has told his story on social media and in broadcast interviews, and writes of how the public response has been an encouragement to him. The book is also a rare and welcome example of a man revealing his pain and vulnerability.
The Revd Peter Crumpler is a self-supporting minister in St Albans diocese, and former Director of Communications at Church House, Westminster.
Love, Interrupted: Navigating grief one day at a time
Trigger Publishing £12.99
Church Times Bookshop £11.70