In a new BBC documentary called Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad, the former Manchester United star has allowed cameras to follow him through the complex journey of grief.
In it he speaks to other men and the ways they have dealt with loss as he comes to terms with the fact he hasn’t really given himself the time to process his own.
Ferdinand’s wife, Rebecca, 34, died after a short battle with cancer in 2015. Though they thought she beat the disease the year before and was expected to live for a few more years, she died five weeks after discovering it had returned in her bones.
At the time, the former England defender released a statement saying “Our grief, as a family, is total. We would appreciate being allowed to mourn privately.”
But in the film, he admits:
"I don't think I've grieved properly.
"I've not given myself that time to sit down and really flush everything out and go through it."
As he explores his emotions, he also offers a broader insight into how young husbands and fathers cope as they share their first-hand experiences of loss and filling both parental roles.
Through different ways of managing grief, including his own, Ferdinand finds that the only way parents can help their children move on with their lives is for them to begin to rebuild their own lives first.
The 60-minute documentary intends to open up the conversation and raise awareness for mental health in men who are bereaved, as 75 men under 50 become widowers every day in the UK.
'Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad' will be shown on BBC One this spring.