About the Book
‘When Rebecca died, the idea that one day I might begin to feel better would have struck me as laughable … I know how persuasive this kind of permanence thinking can be.
I know too that anyone locked in its grip will laugh if I promise them that their pain will one day ease. It will. Of course it will. But I know better than to expect anyone to believe me.’
In 2015, former England football star Rio Ferdinand suddenly and tragically lost his wife and soulmate Rebecca, aged 34, to cancer. It was a profound shock and Rio found himself struggling to cope not just with the pain of his grief, but also with his new role as both mum and dad to their three young children.
Rio’s BBC1 documentary, Being Mum and Dad, touched everyone who watched it and won huge praise for the honesty and bravery he showed in talking about his emotions and experiences. His book now shares the story of meeting, marrying and losing Rebecca, his own and the family’s grief – as well as the advice and support that get him through each day as they strive to piece themselves back together. Thinking Out Loud is written in the hope that he can inspire others struggling with loss and grief to find the help they need through this most difficult of times.
This book has been written by Rio Ferdinand with help from Decca Aitkenhead.
A couple of years ago I wrote a list for Riffle of books that helped me through the grief I felt after my mum died (which you can find here if you’d like to read it). The loss of my mum changed me in so many ways and I find that I’m still drawn to books where other people have worked through their own grief. Thinking Out Loud is a book that I’ve been interested in ever since I first heard about it and I finally picked up a copy last week. If I were to re-write my list, Thinking Out Loud would definitely be on it.
Thinking Out Loud is such an incredibly open and honest account of Rio Ferdinand’s grief after losing his wife Rebecca. After her death he suddenly found himself in sole charge of their three children and had to not only work out how to run a household but, more importantly, he had to figure out how best to help his three young children through their grief and he is so open about how he struggled to know what to do. Each of his children outwardly reacted differently and Rio is very candid in sharing how he just didn’t know how he could help them whilst desperately wanting to help them through it.
Rio is very honest in this book and fully admits that he was in denial about his wife’s illness, that he buried his head in the sand and he explores why he did that. He also shares how some of the things that happened were seemingly lost from his memory, that he genuinely couldn’t remember how things had happened. I can understand that – it’s like your brain just can’t cope with the horror of what is happening and it seems to shut down.
In the book we get to hear a bit about Rio’s childhood, and then how he met Rebecca along with the story of their relationship. Rio wasn’t brought up in an environment where feelings were spoken about and then he became a professional footballer at a young age and his mindset became very focused on how to win, how to move on from failure without dwelling on it. He is very candid in the book and on looking back he sees that he perhaps wasn’t always the easiest person to live with and how he wishes he had listened to Rebecca more. Guilt is something that Rio keeps coming back to as the book goes on and I could really identify with that. I think it’s really common to feel guilt when a loved one dies, we always feel like we could have done more or been better. I appreciate when someone is so honest about it, like Rio is in this book, as it will help others to understand their own feelings.
As Rio was making his documentary for the BBC, Being Mum and Dad, he got to speak with other widowers and some of their stories are featured in this book. It was heartbreaking to read those stories and to see how much their wives still meant to them but it was also lovely to read of the men who had eventually gone on to find new relationships.
Rio acknowledges at the start of this book that he realises that some people will want to read his whole story but others will just want, or need, the advice that he has to give so he tells readers they can skip to a later chapter where it’s more about what he’s learnt, which I think is brilliant. These later chapters have such great wisdom in them about things that might help, and all the advice is spot on. I used to take a notebook to my mum’s oncology appointments but having a friend there who could do all the listening and the note-taking would have made things so much easier. I also completely agree that however hard it is for you, it’s really important to let your loved one speak of their wishes as they come towards the end of their life. I know that listening to my mum talk of what she wanted at her funeral broke my heart but after she died I was so glad that I could do that one last thing for her exactly as she’d wanted it. Rio is right – as difficult as it is – we all need to learn to be better at talking about death.
I highly recommend this book to everyone, and especially to people who are looking after a terminally ill loved one and people who are grieving. I cried a lot when I was reading this book but by the end the tears were healing tears. This is one of those books that will really stay with me, and one I will re-read.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thinking Out Loud is out now!
About the Author
Rio Ferdinand is a former England footballer who also played football for Manchester United during Sir Alex Ferguson’s time as manager. Rio played 81 times for England and in 3 World Cups, and is one of the most decorated footballers of all time.
He had his first son with Rebecca in 2006 and they married in 2009, going on to have two more children before her death in May 2015 from cancer.
Rio is now a TV football pundit for BT Sport and as well as his BBC documentary on bereavement, Being Mum and Dad, has made a short Heads Together charity film with Prince Harry on mental health. He is also working alongside Child Bereavement and Jigsaw.
(Bio taken from: Hodder.co.uk)