Waterloo Road actress Holly Matthews has bravely opened up about the tragic death of her husband Ross Blair, who lost his battle with brain cancer in July. In her first TV interview since Ross' passing, Holly spoke openly about her grief to Lorraine Kelly, and revealed how she navigated explaining his illness with their two young daughters, Brooke and Texas. "In the clip there, you saw us in the Caribbean in May, we had a great time, he was fine, largely, and we got back, and then two days later we were poignantly writing '32 reasons why we love Daddy'," she said. Asked what she had told her girls, aged six and four, about their dad's cancer battle, Holly, 32, said: "They knew (he wasn't well) but it wasn't something tangible, so it wasn't something where it was, 'Oh, dad's got brain cancer'.. What does that mean to a four-year-old and a six-year-old?
Holly Matthews bravely spoke about her husband's death during an appearance on Lorraine
"When we knew that the reality was that there was nothing they could do, and that Ross was dying, I had the feeling that I needed to tell them. I felt like I was waiting to pull the rug out from under them. And my six-year-old is super smart and I knew she knew. It was on the tip of her tongue, she kind of wanted to ask and she was skirting around it."
Holly revealed that she turned to Jeff Brazier for advice when it came to talking to her young children. "Obviously his situation was very similar with the boys, and he phoned me and we spoke, and he gave me the confidence to. It backed up what my intuition was telling me and he said you need to tell them, you must tell them. Just like adults, they need to grieve before, they need to say sorry, or I love you, they need to say goodbye. That didn't make it easy, I was terrified to tell them. I felt sick, but I knew that, with brain cancer, because you deteriorate, we might not have got the chance where Ross would act appropriately. So when we did tell them, my six-year-old, as I was starting to say it, she actually went, 'Just say it,' because she knew. And he responded appropriately, he said he loved them and he gave them a cuddle, and even though perhaps he wasn’t connected fully, it was enough."
Holly's husband Ross passed away in July after a three-year battle with a grade four brain tumour
STORY: Waterloo Road actress Holly Matthews pays moving tribute to her husband at his funeral
The TV star added: "Children ask the most direct questions, so they force me to walk through the grief, I have to be brave for them, because they need me to be real about it. But every now and then they'll throw in a question that an adult would never ask, but a kid will just cut through it and ask. And a few weeks back, Brooke said to me…so my wedding ring has got three diamonds on it, there was no real thought in it, but I've always said to the girls, 'Brooke, Texas and Daddy, they're my loves,' and so Brooke, their minds turn, and she said, 'Does that mean you have to take that diamond out now because dad's not here?' That hit me. That's what children will do, they don't know any different. And I cry in front of them, I will say it's okay to cry, it's okay to be cross. All of those things are okay. Have those moments." She continued: "If they say to me, 'Are you going to die?' and I say no, they say, 'Well you can't promise that.'"