Former Apprentice star Jessica Cunningham fought back tears on Loose Women as she described the pain of telling her children their father was dead.
The businesswoman’s world came shattering down when she received a phone call in August saying ex-boyfriend Alistair Eccles had taken his own life.
He was dad to Jessica’s three young children aged between three and six.
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A visibly upset Jessica appeared on Loose Women on Tuesday alongside Jeff Brazier to take part in a discussion about how to break the news of a parent’s death to children.
Recalling her own experience, she said: “We had split up three years prior. The day it happened he was supposed to pick the girls up in the morning and take them for the week as it was the summer holidays.
“I had a phone call from his sister saying that he had taken his own life. And it’s funny because when you hear news like that, the world just stopped.
“My initial thought was, ‘I have the three girls, still asleep, how am I going to tell them?’ My eldest was a real daddy’s girl. It’s just something you never think you have to deal with.
“They saw him every other weekend and they adored him. How on earth do you tell your children that happened? I was in shock.”
Jessica said she took the girls for a walk and decided to be as truthful as possible.
“I said, ‘Daddy can’t pick you up this morning because he’s had an accident to his head’. I took them on a walk, asked them about life, what they believe about death.
“They said they think you sit on a cloud and wave after dying. I told them their daddy had died. I was conscious of telling the truth.
“I said he had a poorly mind and sometimes if you don’t go to the doctor, like you would with a poorly leg, you can die because of it.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Time stood still.”
Jessica said she also began to panic about her own health and what would happen to the girls if something happened to her.
“As soon as I found out he died, I got this awful health anxiety where I felt I would die,” she said.
“If I had a headache I’d think I was seriously ill. If my sister had a throat infection, I thought she would die.
“You take health for granted.”
Fans flocked to social media to praise Jessica’s bravery in speaking out about such a difficult subject.
One wrote: “Absolutely heartbreaking listening to Jessica talk! I actually held my breath while she was telling what happened after the phone call.”
Another said: “Jessica is Amazing and shown such love and understanding for her children.”
A third agreed: “Fantastic interview with Jessica and Jeff. Such a sensitive subject delivered with dignity.”
Jessica was joined on Loose Women by Jeff Brazier, who experienced a similar situation.
He had to tell his two sons their mother, Jade Goody, had died, after the Big Brother legend lost her cervical cancer battle in 2009.
Since then, he’s retrained as a life coach and bereavement counsellor, helping other families deal with their own loss.