Rio Ferdinand is right to speak up for bereaved dads

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Rio Ferdinand is a great role model for bereaved dads – and all fathers.

Today he spoke out against the government’s plans to cut benefits for bereaved parents, ahead of a BBC1 documentary on coping with grief. He is “mum and dad” to two children after his wife died from cancer aged just 34.

It takes courage for someone in the macho world of football to show himself as vulnerable and emotional, but Ferdinand cries on screen and reveals his struggles to cope with grieving while at the same time propping his children up at an impossibly hard time for them.

Ferdinand talks candidly about mental health, suicidal thoughts and his struggle to admit he needed help when he was at his lowest point. It is a brave move that will hopefully encourage more men to seek help before it’s too late.

Speaking out about the government’s decision to limit bereavement cover to 18 monthly payments, Ferdinand said: “One person may take six months. Another person may take 10 years.

“There isn’t a time when you can say, ‘Yeah I’m over it’. Putting a number on it is the wrong thing to do.”

Anyone who has been through a bereavement will know that time is the only thing that helps you through. Everyone takes their own time to come to terms with what happened, because everyone’s circumstances are different.

In speaking out about these changes, Ferdinand provides a voice for parents – particularly dads – who may feel excluded from the debate. Sometimes people are supposed to “just cope” when their world falls apart, but it’s not that simple. Ferdinand’s experience shows that there are issues beyond money that matter, too.

Have you had to go through a bereavement as a parent? Have you found yourself trying too hard to be strong for the sake of your children? Do men find it hard to talk about mental health, especially when they’re parents?  

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  1. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it is for bereaved parents, being a father of two myself. Credit to Rio for highlighting this issue, which I imagine many, myself included, never thought much about and why would you I suppose until you’re in that terrible position. I’ll be watching the BBC1 programme though I imagine I’ll find it upsetting.

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