Joey Essex reveals the grief of losing his mum

Thursday: Joey Essex: Grief and Me; (BBC One, 9pm, NI: BBC Two)

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 5:00 pm
Joey Essex
Joey Essex

On the surface, it appears that everything in Joey Essex’s life is ‘reem’.

But a decade years in the reality TV spotlight and a luxury lifestyle haven’t been able to heal the grief that the Southwark-born TOWIE star has kept inside for 20 years.

Now, as he turns 30, Joey is embarking on a deeply personal journey to take stock of his life, and for the sake of his future, finally confront his past.

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Every year 41,000 young people lose a parent in the UK.

At the age of just 10, Joey’s world was ripped apart when his mum, Tina, tragically took her own life.

Tina sadly suffered mental-health issues caused by candida, a yeast imbalance in the gut that can lead to a number of problems such as depression.

Unable to comprehend the loss, Joey has spent the next 20 years burying his grief, learning to hide his true feelings behind a series of ‘masks’ – the joker, the charmer and the TV heart-throb.

He has kept his emotions hidden, rarely spoken about his mother, and avoided having pictures of her in his home.

However, last year, while he was competing in the Channel 4 reality show Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, Joey finally opened up about the traumatic incident.

Having been pulled aside for a grilling by officers, he admitted: “I believe I am tough inside. Growing up wasn’t easy. I had to deal with a lot of sh*t. My mum committed suicide when I was 10 which was difficult. It hardened me up a little bit. I can’t explain it. It’s made me tougher inside. I only sort of started being able to talk about it openly, saying the word “mum”, three or four years ago. I know my mum loved me. But it has given me trust issues. One day she was there, one day she was gone.”

Now, as he leaves his 20s behind, Joey is ready to confront his trauma so he can move forward with his life.

His efforts have been chronicled in this new documentary, and speaking to The Sun about Grief and Me, Joey said: “This documentary is really close to my heart. Going on this journey to find the real me will be a personal challenge. But I hope it also highlights how important it is that other people who have experienced trauma know that they’re not alone.”

With the help of clinical psychologist Dr Stephen Blumenthal, Joey, who has been an ambassador for Child Bereavement UK since 2014, sets out to finally face the impact his beloved mother’s death has had on him.

Up until now he’s only really opened up about his childhood with his family, but even his sister Frankie and their cousin Chloe recognise that he’s never truly processed his grief.

Nevertheless, from talking about his emotions and putting more pictures of his mum around his house, to finding a way of coping with his anxiety, Joey is determined to face his fears head on.

After an unsure start and trust issues threatening to derail the process, Joey realises that ‘The Only Way’ he will be able to move on with his life, will be to look back at his painful past.

But after 20 years of avoiding it, can he really come to terms with his grief?

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