Simon Thomas has revealed that he’s in the "early stages" of a new relationship, a year after his wife Gemma died.
The former Sky Sports presenter said his new relationship has been "an incredible support" for him after losing his wife to Leukaemia.
"I’m very aware she was someone I didn’t know before and have got to know over the last few weeks and months," he told Anna Foster on BBC Radio 5 Live.
"Right from the early stages – she had this empathy towards me. She’s Christian as well and that’s important to me as a man of faith.
"She’s been an incredible support for me. She was the only person who would always pick up the phone.
"What I saw in her, I saw in Gemma. When she said my phone is always on, she meant it."
When asked if he is in love again, Simon admitted: "I’m getting there, yeah. It’s in many ways strange to feel that way again."
But he insists he will never move on from his wife’s death and Gemma can’t be replaced.
"Sometimes I struggle with the phrase ‘moving on’ – I don’t think you ever really do move on from what’s happened," he said.
“That hole that a loved one leaves doesn’t shrink over time. Life begins to grow around it.
“You begin to deal with some of the challenges grief throws up, being a single parent throws up.
“I’ve got two choices. Give up – I can’t do that, I don’t want to do that, I’ve got a boy to bring up, I promised Gemma.
“The only other choice then is you walk.
“Right from the start I felt, I’ve got to find life again.”
And he doesn’t want to feel like his wife has been "replaced"
He said: “This is potentially an area that can cause a lot of hurt. There’s a lot of misunderstanding that comes from this – we equate meeting someone else with forgetting the person who’s gone.
“There are no shoes left to be filled. There will never be another Gemma. We are unique – we come to the table with our different personalities. If you’re embarking on a new relationship, comparing is ultimately a futile task. There is no comparison.”
“It’s not my fault what happened to Gemma – it’s nobody’s fault.
“This person is helping me define life again, helping me to feel happy again.
“I can completely understand why some people do [feel that way]. But for most people we lose, they won’t want us to remain in this empty landscape of grief.”
Simon also talked about the prospect of introducing his new relationship to his late wife’s family.
He said: “The hard thing for Gemma’s family – they’ve not met her yet. She doesn’t want to appear insensitive, launching in there, ‘here I am guys’.
“When the time comes for them to meet, this will be a very physical representation, it will be a very painful reminder of the physical absence of Gemma.
“We do need to take our time.
“The stuff that goes on around us can be quite difficult to navigate at times. The rules of engagement around it are really quite difficult.
“She has in truth chosen a much rockier path than she could have done.”
In July Simon spoke of his enduring grief after the tragic loss of his wife Gemma.
Gemma died of Leukaemia in November last year only three days after the diagnosis, leaving behind Simon and their distraught eight-year-old son Ethan.
Speaking on Thursday’s Lorraine Kelly show, dad Simon said he’s still struggling to come to terms with Gemma’s sudden passing.
"I think part of the problem with this, is that because it was so brutal, it happened at totally the wrong time in life," he said.
"We all know that, if we hang around, at some stage we’re going to deal with the death of a parent, or whatever it might be. We know grief is going to affect us at some point.
"When it happens at the wrong stage in life it frightens the life out of people," Simon admitted.
The former Sky Sports presenter added: " “When you are alongside myself and [my son] Ethan, maybe you’re in our house, and you see just how big an absence Gemma is in that place that we lived in for the last eight years together, it confronts those people, my friends, with their own mortality.
"And the very idea that perhaps, just perhaps – even though the stats are weighed heavily against it happening – it could happen to them and it’s a frightening thought.
"So, I think sometimes it’s easier to step away a little bit because you don’t have to engage the reality of what may, but probably won’t, happen to you."
Simon then said his son Ethan struggles to open up to him following his mum’s death, even though he’s his only immediate family.
"His grief is beginning to manifest itself a little bit more," said the presenter.
"A child wants to protect you and they don’t want to necessarily tell you everything that’s going on in their head. I know sometimes when he gets alongside his auntie Rebecca, Gemma’s sister, he was being very expressive in how he’s feeling and what he’s going through. Because I think he wants to protect me a little bit from what’s going on because he knows that I’ll worry and maybe I’ll cry.
"I’ve always been very open in my emotions. The only thing I’ll hold back from him is anger, because I don’t think he needs to see that."
The dad then told how he still breaks down in tears over ‘mundane’ tasks he used to do with Gemma.
"I was upstairs, mountain of washing […] I’m trying to get through it all, I’m thinking, ‘I haven’t done the garden, I’ve got to cook his tea’. All the things we used to share, now it’s just on you. And I just started crying. It hit me again, I’m on my own, I’ve got to struggle through this on my own. Within 20 seconds, I hear the pitter patter of feet up the stairs he [Ethan] comes up and gives me a massive hug.”
He then added: "The loneliness is brutal… you have a lot of time on your own with your thoughts.
"It hurts, it’s a brutal jump to very much emptiness. When Ethan’s eyes are shut, the house is quiet."
Simon said he’s now writing a book about losing Gemma last year and when it’s finalised he plans to take Ethan on a road tour in a campervan for them to create happy memories together.
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