Gemma Atkinson has opened up about her father's devastating death when she was 17 years old.
Taking to her Instagram page, the former Strictly Come Dancing star shared a series of throwback snaps of her late dad as she recalled how her life changed forever when she lost him.
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"19 yrs ago today my life changed with 1 phone call," she wrote. "I still remember mum coming into my room in the middle of the night to tell me Dad had died. He'd had a heart attack."
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Sharing her grief with fans, Gemma continued: "Grief sucks. It's difficult & different for everyone but something we all have to go through. One thing I know for sure is that the world keeps turning with or without us and time still passes.
"Dad always used to say to me 'don't let the [explicit] grind you down'. He always said to keep on going because better times were coming. I learnt to live with my new circumstance and way of life without dad in it."
Gemma posted these throwback images with her dad
Gemma, 36, went on to admit she still hasn't accepted his death. "I've still not accepted it 100% and I question daily why a loving, present and caring dad would be taken over one that couldn’t care less for his family, but I guess that's just life," she said.
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"It's unfair at times but anger and constantly looking back gets us nowhere. To anyone who's suffered a recent loss and is thinking you'll feel this way forever I can tell you, you won't.
"Life moves on and you have to keep going because better times are coming. You will get through it and you will feel strong again. Remember that, and don't let the [explicit] grind you down."
Fans of the star were grateful to see her openness on grief, with one writing: "Grief isn't easy at any age I lost both my parents within 24hrs of each other 2 years ago and this has made me smile as my dad would of said the same thing x." Another remarked: "Thank you, needed to hear that."
The TV star is engaged to Gorka Marquez
In 2018, Gemma opened up about the death of her father in an interview with Happiful magazine, and how she wishes he could have met her Strictly fiancé, Gorka Marquez.
"I think he'd love him," she said of her dad. "He'd say he's a gentleman. Everyone who's met Gorka says that."
Despite being a non-smoker and only drinking occasionally, David died suddenly at the age of 52 from a heart attack, and Gemma further confessed the tragedy had spurred her on to "take care of [herself]" as best as she can.
"It hit me that life's too short," she said. "Dad was 52 and very healthy. He never smoked and only drank every few weeks – there was nothing wrong with him. Since then, I've wanted to take care of myself as best I can, and that's why I always drill that health is more important than what you look like."
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