Leah Bracknell’s husband, Jez Hughes, has opened up about the grief he has endured following her tragic death.
The Emmerdale actress died in September, 2019, after a long battle with lung cancer, at the age of 55.
Appearing on Loose Women to discuss the anniversary of his loss, the author compared the grief to facing a ‘monster’.
‘Grief is like a monster, or a person who comes in your house, and after first day… Or in the months and weeks, that person is in your house all the time, and they bring along all their mates, like anger or fear, deep sorrow and pain,’ he told the panel.
‘It’s a bit like being physically assaulted every single day, almost.
‘But it does change over time, and the places in between the grief get longer. Things become back to normal in a way, you find yourself laughing and smiling, and living life again. Which brings up other stuff, like guilt.
‘When it does come back, it can just hit you. You can be completely normal and suddenly it hits you, in some ways that’s harder.
‘When you’re sucked back into the grief, it becomes almost harder.’
Leah starred as Zoe Tate on the ITV soap for an incredible 16 years, before leaving the show in 2005.
And, despite not knowing her for some of the time she was in the Dales, Jez revealed he rewatches her old episodes as a way of feeling ‘connected’ to his late wife.
‘It helps me connect, it helps me… That’s before I knew her but obviously it meant so much to her, and I heard so much about that period of her life,’ he continued.
‘It connects me to her spirit. It feels really important to connect to that part of her.
‘There’s moments, if it’s an emotional scene in the programme, I know those emotions, I know her face in that place, that touches something deep inside me and it reminds me.’
Leah – known as Ali to those closest to her – and Jez tied the knot in an intimate wedding in 2017, two years before her death.
But her husband insisted that she didn’t want to be ‘defined’ by her illness.
‘She wanted to be defined by her responses, not by the diagnosis, not by the treatment or how long she lived for,’ he added. ‘That was right until the end, that was her approach.
‘She was incredible. She never moaned about the cancer, she never said “Why me?”’
Loose Women continues on weekdays, at 12.30, on ITV.
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