Eight months after The Wanted star Tom Parker died of brain cancer, his wife Kelsey reveals her ongoing experience of grief, and the physical and mental challenge that will offer an opportunity for contemplation and healing
The weekend before her interview with Happiful, actress and influencer Kelsey Parker was a guest at a wedding where she unexpectedly found herself sidelined by other guests.
“No one wanted to talk to me,” explains Kelsey. “People don’t know what to say to me, so they say nothing at all. I tried to speak to people that I hadn’t seen for a while, but after the ‘How are you?’ nobody wanted to take the conversation further.”
For the uninitiated, that conversation is grief. And, according to Kelsey, the widow of singer and The Wanted star Tom Parker who died in March at the age of 33, after an 18-month battle with brain cancer, it’s time we all did better at speaking out about life after loss.
“I’m coping with my grief by speaking about it, but in the UK we just don’t talk honestly and openly about grief, death, and everything else associated with these painful experiences. These are realities that will one day affect us all,” says Kelsey, who has made a six-part ITVBe miniseries about grief, which airs this month. Welcoming cameras into the south London home she once shared with Tom and their children Aurelia, three, and Bodhi, two, and being filmed as she explored alternative ways to navigate grief was, says Kelsey, “hugely healing”.
As well as visiting a death cafe where people drink tea, eat cake, and discuss death, she tried grief yoga, where movements and breathing techniques help participants process their feelings. She also met with members of Widowed And Young, a national charity for people who are aged 50 or under when their partner dies.
“It’s shocking, isn’t it? I’m 32 and I’m a widow,” sighs Kelsey. “Although my friends are amazing, they can’t truly relate to me because they’ve not lost their partner, so I really enjoyed meeting with the WAY members because they truly understood where I was coming from, and that was lovely.”
With this in mind, you can sense the appeal of another activity that Kelsey is embarking on as part of her life journey post-Tom.
Alongside her close pal, actress and podcaster Giovanna Fletcher, TOWIE star Pete Wicks, and TV personality Vicky Pattison, last month Kelsey trekked 100km across the Sahara in aid of breast cancer awareness charity, CoppaFeel!
Flanked by 100 CoppaFeel! supporters, the team hiked for 10 hours daily through Morocco’s unforgiving landscape, a gruelling challenge that would intimidate most. But not Kelsey.
From the day he was diagnosed with an inoperable grade four glioblastoma tumour in October 2020, during his 60 sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and until the day he died just hours after lying beside Kelsey and placing his platinum wedding ring on her finger, Tom never lost s