real life

How a stranger's act of kindness is helping a father grieve the death of his wife.

On November 20 last year, UK television presenter Simon Thomas, his wife Gemma, and their son, Ethan, were looking forward to Christmas.

They’d taken a beach holiday in the months before, and Gemma’s Instagram account shows how they were readying their home for the festivities when, without warning, the 40-year-old mum fell sick with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

Within three days, she was dead.

“If you are a prayer – pray for my boy Ethan who is eight years old, precious, and in bits,” Simon, 44, posted to Twitter the day after her death, adding he was “crushed with indescribable pain”.

Christmas was not Christmas at all, and Simon and Ethan welcomed the New Year through a fog thick with grief and shock.

But Simon’s message throughout, “light in the darkness”, is proving to be true. And people – strangers, friends, family – are showing kindness in amazing ways.

A post shared by Simon Thomas (@simonjthomassky) on


After seeing on Instagram how Simon is leaving notes in Ethan’s lunch box each day (little snippets such as, “I see so much of your mummy in you” and “Do more today of what makes you awesome”), a stranger delivered a year’s worth of notes meant for Simon, as well.

“A guy called Dan Ritchie, who I have yet to meet (but will) has seen my notes for Ethan and felt I needed some too, to encourage me and help me keep going when I feel like giving up,” Simon posted to Instagram yesterday.

LISTEN: Robin Bailey and Bec Sparrow discuss the seven stages of grief, on The Well. Post continues after. 

“So he’s written me a daily note, too – for every single day of the coming year! That’s #lightinthedarkness right there.”

The accompanying image shows four stacks of cards with one turned over to read: “Know that all of heaven is cheering you on today Simon.”

A post shared by Simon Thomas (@simonjthomassky) on


The SKY sports presenter has shared much of his grief through social media. Simon’s words are raw as he describes panic attacks and crippling disbelief, and filled with concern and love when it comes to his son.

But throughout, in a remarkable feat of perseverance, he has stuck to the message: “Light in the darkness”. And, with gestures like this one from Ritchie, the words are proving to be true.

“Since Gemma went I have been so moved by the support and messages I get from people on here,” Simon added. “People I haven’t even met, yet people who care about me and what I’m going through.”


Keep ploughing on Simon and Ethan – you’ve got some incredible people looking out for you.

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