Former England captain Rio Ferdinand has told the BBC that his children would not talk about the death of their mother.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, he said his children would “shut me down” when he asked them how they were feeling.
The 38-year-old said he did not know the best way to talk to his three children, now aged 10, eight and five.
His wife, Rebecca, was 34 when she died of breast cancer in May 2015. The couple got married in 2009.
The ex-Manchester Utd defender was speaking to 5 live ahead of a BBC One documentary about grief on Tuesday 28 March at 9pm.
He told 5 live’s Emma Barnett: “I didn’t know any techniques to speak to the children. I didn’t know what buttons to push.
“I’d been starting conversations with them to try and get how they were feeling out, and they would just shut me down, walk away, close the conversation down completely”.
In the BBC One programme, Ferdinand starts a memory jar for the family, enabling the children to talk about the happy moments when their mum was alive.
He said: “It kind of opened everything up and it was a beautiful moment just seeing them talk happily and being joyful about their mum rather than it being sad and negative moments.
“It switched it from dark to bright”.
‘I need help’
Ferdinand also said that, in the wake of Rebecca’s death, he now understands why people contemplate suicide.
He told 5 live: “When you come into this situation you understand suicide, you understand people who do that and have those thoughts.
“I didn’t think about it myself but I understand now how people get to that situation.
“I can’t judge people like that now, whereas before I’d be sitting there, probably with Rebecca, saying that guy is so ignorant and selfish how has he just done that – left three beautiful kids.
“Now I could say I understand how he got to that point. I wouldn’t do it, but I understand how he’s there. You do get to those levels – and so it’s a work-in-progress.
Ferdinand also recently appeared on the This Morning show. Talking to presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, Rio admitted he needs help to raise his children alone.
“I want the best-case end scenario for my kids and the only way to do that is to ask questions”, Rio confessed.
“I need help”.