When I started this podcast last year, it was an exploration of my own grief, I had lost my mum, my best friend, and I couldn't imagine my life without her.
I suddenly had all these feelings of sadness, anger, confusion and guilt. I needed to understand them. So I turned to my friends and people I knew who had been through a similar experience. It was eye opening. We cried, we laughed. We processed that podcast helped more people than I could have imagined. I've been inundated with messages and connected with hundreds of people who have lost loved ones and realised their experiences needed to be shared.
There are still stories that need to be told this season on Death Becomes Them. I meet people who have lost siblings, spouses, parents and children, though the experiences differ. One thing remains consistent. Talking about it is therapy.
Today I talk to Bars Ashram. We all know I love bars and his mum, Nancy, from the Emmy Award winning TV show 50 Ways to Kill Your Mommy. Beyond the show, family is integral to the success and work from aspiring his themes to working alongside them behind the scenes bars opens up today about just what family means to him, how they coped with the loss of their father and how he struggles to deal with grief.
And today, I have the fabulous buzz, hey, hey, I don't think I've ever shot it with an Emmy Award winning person before you've won an Emmy.
Yeah, well, it's not like, you know, you're acting all modest. No, no. You don't bring it with you hanging from my neck. Yes, why not? But it's funny. It's really it's I saw this Jim Carrey thing before and he was talking about fame and he was coming to introduce an award. And when he came out, he was he was doing this thing right there. Mansome is two time Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey.
And he came in. He wouldn't want to go to sleep at night on two time Golden Globe. Thank you. When I get up in the morning, I'm too tired.
Once I get a third, then I'll be complete. Oh, nice. And it's that thing of you think it's going to be. A much bigger thing than an oh, it's still no what are you saying? But after a year or it's just a thing just normal that it is, sadly, I'm a mess.
When I got home, my missus is like Tanya was all over that. Yeah. She was like, well, you know, you better go collect the kids and to go down to little, there's nothing will knock the khorkina side, if you like a trip to little where you just. I just won an Emmy. It was there to be more to this spot, but yeah, it was nice. It was you know, it was nice.
My mom had never been to New York right on her first time in New York.
Was her in a limo going to the Emmys and then she won at the Emmys. And then what?
Did you get a chance to meet anyone once hugely famous, but your mom would know? No.
Well, it was your man, Michael Douglas was was was very cozy with her once. She was like Michael Douglas. There's a sequel here, you know. Yeah.
Up in a place that's like, Mom, off we now we're going. We're going. But she had a ball. I mean, her had just one of those moments, I think, just after being through everything we've been through as a mother and so on. Yeah. To be at the Emmys and be sitting in an Irish bar for just having a couple of drinks and eating chicken wings with NAMI on the counter. Yes.
Just looking back on that and to have that experience with your mom is very unique. It's a real pinch me moment. I didn't realize that.
I didn't realize that before I was making a but as we were making it, we just had these little moments where my mom never changed, you know what I mean?
But we were in like some six star hotel in Tokyo. And they have this device in the room where and it's like a little cupboard with a light and you put your laundry in it and then it disappears and the light goes red. And then you look around the room for a while and then Gotting and you open it and it's all folded and wash the little chocolate on it.
I mean, her got really pissed on cocktails and we were like taking over socks and our trash and we just stuffed in this thing seeing how long it would take.
And it was just as giddiness in this amazing kind of panoramic suites in Tokyo.
And there's all these little moments where they're just amazing life experience. I think when you get to my age, you just don't get to spend some time with what age? That I'm forty five. So. So when I was doing this, I was probably early forties kind of my age.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And you just don't get to spend that time with your parents any time you see them as when you're grown, your kids are through and collecting them.
But to have this like adventure with your mom and for it to be documented and you actually have the footage that you can watch. My mom loved the show.
She watched the show. And sometimes now what I am what my grief is, sometimes I can get jealous of seeing other people with their moms, which is a weird thing to say. No. And I think it's maybe it's part of it. And like I would see you what your mom and even on your Instagram and I would be jealous. Yeah, so many.
So weird. Just so many people messaged me and so many people that had lost their mom in particular and were just like, oh my God, your mom reminds me. So someone my mom or or you're so lucky. They kept kind of reminding me. And I think I think that's what happens when you lose someone close to you. You feel a need to tell other people, don't stick around now, like, really be grateful for all this time because it's just like that.
It's gone. Just fuck all you can do better. You know, you've no choice. It's it's just what. You can't take those moments back. Yeah, but it's human nature to just take things for granted.
Sometimes I find with this podcast and talking about death and loss and grief, what I was surprised about was people that contacted me about it were saying it made them feel grateful for what they have, not for what they don't have. It was a realization about how lucky they are to still have their mom and their dad, because not all of us are blessed in that way. How would you describe your relationship with your mom? She's I suppose she's been this kind of like.
Mentor to me, like she's everything that I'd like to be like, she's completely. She's completely content in herself, right?
You get me like, look, you could bring her to five star hotels, which we did, and it just doesn't really mean that much.
She flew first class around the world. It was nice. But she doesn't give a shit like she has in either dollface or.
Like, I brought her to 18 countries in three years. And then if you were to sit with her here, she would bang on about the fucking canary's to you for like an hour.
Right. You know, where she has a little place that she bought and she just loves. And I'm like, fuck you around the world. And all you can talk about is the canary's. But to her, that was that was a dream for her to have a little place. So to me, I kind of idolized this level of contentment because, you know, yourself, like we live in this kind of materialistic kind of world where, you know, you think, oh, buy these shoes or watch.
And then I feel happy. And and you realize as you get older, that's all kind of bullshit.
You know, it's nice, but it's materialistic. It's sugar rush.
It gives you a quick high and then all of a sudden it's gone and you don't have that feeling. Yeah. While pure contentment, I'd like to be happy with the person you're with and the people around you to have that level esan.
Yeah, that's that's something like you strive for all your life. And she has that and she's also the most positive person before. It was cool to be positive. Yeah. She's always been like that. She's like the only reason I got to where I got to was purely because she told me I could and I believed her right now. I realized when I got into my late 20s that I'm not as great as my mom told me.
Well, so real realization. Yeah, well, I was. You fucking lied. You told me I was really talented. Have you met this dude? You know, and. But what she did that to me. She just instilled me with this kind of consciousness that you can you can achieve and do anything. And I try and rob her parents and give it to my kids. Yeah, we're similar.
Like, do you ever fear my biggest fear growing up, like even in my twenties, was the fear of losing my mom.
It was a very strange thing.
And I don't know why, even as a child, I would fear I moved from home when I was 18 and I started working at Ryanair in a different country and my fear was not being around my mom. Do you have a fear for the day that when your mom's not around, or do you consciously not think about that?
It's it's an obsession you have. So my dad left when I was very young, so all of a sudden it was just me and my gran and my mom. Right. So I became obsessed with them, like I would follow them around. We would spend a lot of time together and my mom would work two jobs. So I would spend most of the time with my grandma. So it's funny that actually I did a documentary with my mom called Last Orders, where we discussed what she wants when she's gone.
Right. Which is this conversation I've avoided my whole life because I just can't can't really fathom it's fear. You know, I just don't want to have my default is to go back to mistake Cuma. You know what it's like.
You know, I'm not sticking in the living room. You can, you know, you know, I'll bury you somewhere or throw your ashes somewhere. Yeah. But you're not sitting in the living room just in case you thought that was a thing. That's an option. It's fucking not. Yeah. You know, and I would just go back to this default of and then I realized one day that she'd sat down with Tanya and had this folder of everything that she wants.
Right. Like everything. And I was like, I didn't even look at the folder. And I was like, well, let's go on this journey and talk. And it ended up at the start of it, I went, I hope this isn't really upsetting for you.
And she laughed. And she's like, it's going to be upsetting for me, for you.
And I was like, Yeah, yeah, I blow the whole I hate this I hate this documentary I made really. I hate it because the whole thing is me, just bloodborne.
It's probably my movie on this rock of like.
Yeah, Laks, you know, I've never going to see my my grandmother's grave. I didn't go to the funeral, so I was like, what was I thirteen or fourteen.
Why was that? Just because it was just too much. It was just this woman who I just hung out with all the time.
It was like it was like my mom just taught me to smoke, watch the late late and had a fag with her and and just would I'm afraid to ask what age 12 might not look like. Bad bad parenting.
Sounds like a great little sips of brandy and and we watch the late late together and it was just this person who.
Was was like another mom. Yeah, and when she died, I remember I was in a study hall in boarding school that had been sent off again into shit, and I had the kind of headphone up the sleeve of my jumper and I got the tap on the shoulder and I got cut out here.
And then they were real calm. They just brought me aside and said, oh, your your grandmother's passed away. So I was just I was just devastated. I just had no concept. Looking back, it was so bad because my mom went to the funeral and did all that on her own. But I couldn't I just couldn't go.
And any religious beliefs that I had instantly quit, they were gone. Why? Just because I thought there's no way that someone someone could do that to me could take someone that important to me just away.
And I just I, I never I never really got over it. And then in the dark, funny enough, my mom said you should go see the grave. And I was like, yeah, yeah. I suppose I'm older now and I'll go to what did I think was going to happen. Like the one thing that struck me is we were looking around this graveyard for her grave and I saw the days before I saw her name, I was like nineteen eighty eight and I was gone.
I was a kid again.
Strange, I was strange, it was really odd. I was just like a blubbering mess.
Because what happens if you bought like thirty years of shit, honey, it's going to come out, it's going ok, it's got to come out somewhere at some point it just I did feel much better afterwards.
Yeah. But, but it was just that it was the first experience of loss and some people don't have my missus Tanya her her granny is still alive. Wow. I never to make eighty nine amazing age you know.
And her mom obviously all her parents are still alive and she's never lost anyone. Wow. And I said one day like because we get into it like, you know, things like my dad's anniversary, stuff like that and she just doesn't have a concept. You can't, you can't fathom what it's like until it happens.
I don't you know, it's so strange. I and I've talked this before in other episodes, I didn't see my mother as anything else other than a mom.
I didn't see her as a wife or a girlfriend or fiancee or a sister as a friend. And I didn't see her as human. I couldn't didn't put an age on my mother. And now I can't because she passed away at sixty one. I almost thought she was like superhuman to have seven children, you know, me, and to do what I done and six girls you to come out as gay and all the reality TV and all of that.
It was all for us. But I was so angry thinking she's wrong. Why is she robbed? Why is this happening to her? And I couldn't go to the grave. I couldn't go to the great I was until I finished the first season of this. I sat up and talking to everyone, you know, everyone being so open and honest, which I respected. And I went to the grave and for the first time I spoke to her.
I would always go there and go, Oh, shit, what do I say? And then Arthur would always kiss the headstone.
My sisters would all be around and Derg and I'd be sitting there going, I wonder what they're saying to Mum.
But I'd go home and I talk to a picture.
It's so strange.
It's you see, again, for the religious belief, you know, for me, like I always had this picture that a grave is just it's nothing to me. It's bones. It's there's no one there. So why would I go there? She's not there and I'm not going to see her again. You know, there is no heaven. This is my attitude. So she's got thirteen. This was as soon as she died, I was done with religion.
I was like, I don't believe. I believe we live and we die. And that's it right now. Somewhere along the way, I've kind of found my own spirituality with stuff. Right. But I, I couldn't understand why I would sit at a gravesite and talk to a stone. Yeah. And then the thing that used to annoy me, I went to a funeral and there was this huge tombs, this huge, huge graves, massive graves.
And then it was like I was standing on the grave. I know it was like a little cross that I'm standing on.
And I thought even in death, even in death, it's just I know where this guy was.
What was so important about him compared to this person. It should be like, you know, Washington, we're old graves to cross. Don't look the same old, you know. Yeah. So do something. I just was venomous about that. I just didn't like graveyards. But when I went it all made sense. And I only went like six months ago. And when I went it made sense because what you're doing is you're dedicating time to ponder about that person and channel them and.
And it's like you're nearly meditating with this person, you know, you're given designated time to just sit, like making the effort and put yourself into that zone and shown respect while beforehand I'd never kind of realized what you think.
That's because you were so young you couldn't you hadn't grasped your life and you were angry that this woman you idolized, like a second mom team was taken from you.
Is she for us? Was it was very real because I my my gran had Alzheimer's. So we nursed my mom worked in a psycho geriatric hospital. I would go to school, then I would come back and I would nurse her. So I literally got in trouble that summer and ended up getting sent to boarding school in Offaly.
It was like a borstel board where you write very, very powerfully.
And I was only then there like a couple of months and then this had happened. So the last time I saw she was doing OK, she was all right, you know, and then then she was gone and that was it.
How do you think that loss at such a young age changed you or affected you, do you think? I think it I think it just.
Hardens its innocence, isn't it? That's what you're trying to keep for your kids. Yeah, when you have kids the whole time, you're trying to keep them innocent for as long as possible. And it's a certain level of innocence.
It's a certain reality injection that you've got to deal with this. I personally didn't deal with it very well.
I just kind of buried it somewhere and I just tried to forget about it. But it was always with me any time. Like, I remember doing the late, late for the first time.
And all I could think was I can kind of get out of this. Yeah, she's in the limelight. I just would. Great. And then, you know, doing 50 ways with my mom again just kicked in. I was like, she would laugh. Mom right now.
And then even winning the Emmy, I was like, I just would pop up at all of these different times, big moments in your life where you just kind of long for that person to see this or to witness this or be part of this.
You know, the only word I use is saying that.
It's just that it's incredibly it's it's it's a it's you know what it is? It's. You're not going to you can't replace that love.
Yeah, I mean, it's a different yeah, I used to always think that, you know, your parents love your mom's lover or, you know, it's a dynamic that you will never have again with anybody else. That's a very specific kind of love.
And likewise, when most people and their dad how did losing your gran and then losing your father, were they to you had obviously two very different relationships and they were very different.
So my dad and me had this kind of staggered back and forth relationship where I lived with him when I was 15. After my grandma died, I went to Cairo and lived with him in Cairo for a few years.
And amazing for any 15 year old to do that, though, like, wow, no one says yeah, no, that's that's why you're not my doing in Cairo, like, you know, my 15 going, you know, have you been praying and shit. And I was like, yeah, right. OK, so so it was just a bit of a culture shock.
But no, it was great because I was tapping into kind of a different side of your culture. Your dad deeply religious. No, not at all for show. Right. It was like this is what you do. Like this is Ramadan. Nothing. You know, you don't drink anything touches your lips. I remember looking at stomp and get a slap across the back of the head. And I was like, you've got to be kidding me, really.
I just like sneakily had a Coke Coke bottle in the toilet, which you're slapping me for this.
So it was it's just a cultural thing. But it was also very special because it was this time we got together. So we became like mates. He was very funny and he made me laugh a lot and I made him laugh a lot. But there was certain characteristics that certain things I just couldn't get over. You know, I'd ask very direct questions like, why would you leave and why would you do this? Where were you? You're quite young.
Yeah, yeah, like seven or eight.
So there was this kind that he wouldn't he just it's old school. He was just like, I'm not announce that I'm the dad and you're the son. Just shut up. Shut up, you know?
And I was like, OK, so whatever happened over the years, by the time I got to 18 or 19, I was in Cairo and we had a massive fight. I think I was 20, actually, and we'd had a huge fight, like massive. And I decided I'm done with them and I was living in Sydney and then I moved to London and I'm jealous. Yeah, but but. But. And then he died and I found out what age where you when he passed, I was 21, same age as your son.
Hmm. And, uh.
I was angry, I was angry more than anything else he had he had passed away six months previously before I found out.
No. Yeah. So how does that happen?
Either stepbrother and was family politics, family politics. And in Islam, they bury very fast. Then someone was in charge of tracking me down.
Of course, I was globally. A little bit of safety. Yeah. And and no Instagram back then. No, although I'm the only Ashmawy in Ireland.
So I did question how fuckin difficult it was to track me down. But but I wasn't in Ireland, but it was my mom said to me, look, I've spoken to your aunt and, you know, your dad died. And so by the time I got to Cairo, I was raging and, you know, people were very solemn.
And they have this thing in Islam where you don't talk about of the dead.
And I said, well, you can fucking forget that I'm ready here to straighten shit out, you know? But I was like a real housewife for you. Oh, let's set the record straight. There were like, here comes Vermont. Here comes the Irish lot.
I like his old guns blazing. And I was so angry and I think I was so angry because I. I was I wanted to have a fight with him. You wanted to have it? I wanted to have it. I never got it. You never got the chance. And. And with that, I did love them quite a lot, and I suppose I felt robbed of that, you know, and that that's the thing you've got to remember when someone goes, is that.
All the things you wanted to say are all the things you wanted to ask or those conversations that you needed to have, you just they're gone and you can't you're desperately trying to get stories from other people and piece things together yourself. And it took me a long time to come to terms with what kind of old?
You know, I've spoken to people who have had 18 months, six months. I had nothing. I was on the phone to my mom. I said to my mom, the passed and I've come to a conclusion from talking to everyone is that I don't think you ever have enough time. Even if you're given 18 months or two years, you still aren't ready. I think it's harder when it happens like that because it's also it's a shock. I was felt like she had been murdered, you know, but I think to do it all over again, I wish we had more time.
So I get where you're coming from. Yeah. Especially, you know, you're told six months later. So you're also dealing with that.
And you go there, you know, I'm I'm going to give them all a piece of my mind. He wanted to hang out with your dad.
In a sense, if you're robbed of that fair well, whatever kind of farewell you would have had with him.
But it's funny because I have a stepsister who lives here in Ireland now. We don't have that expression. And in Egypt, there's no such thing as a stepsister's just your sister. So I call her my sister. But it can get confusing for people. Right? So with different mothers and what people people wouldn't ask, would they?
Would they would they go, oh, you're not seeing your mom and you are not? Well, I can see she's wearing a hijab for my sister. Yeah. I presume she was your sister. Sister? Yeah.
No, no, she's she's that's probably the best. There you go. I wouldn't have even thought. Yeah.
And who told you so that people were like she just got a different accent to use American English, you know. So it gets confusing for people.
But it's funny because she was so young and and her mom, she was two when I lived with her and dad and her mom and her mom was thirty five and had a lie down one day.
And it's hard for me to talk about this because I know my sister will hear but but she had a tumor in her head and she died and then my dad was left with her on his own and he really couldn't really cope well on his own. Difficult. And then he died. Right.
What age she then. Uh, eleven. Wow.
So young. Super young. No mom and dad and stuff.
So so when we talk about my dad, I tell her a lot of things that she didn't know. Right. And I think for me that was a great therapy. Yeah. For me, especially because I know how obsessed he was with her.
Yeah. He loved her and I know how much he taught her.
And probably the latter years are the parts that she remember.
You know, yourself, you're different people throughout your life, you morphing and changing and adapting. And you know what was a twenty one.
It's not who I am at forty two but also thankful to thankful because I'm so annoying.
Yeah but but but so I try and piece these bits together for her and as I do and I remember very nice qualities and very good things.
Not everybody is supposed to be a parent. Yeah. This is the thing.
Some people just they're not a great parent. It doesn't mean that, you know, I think she she got the best side of him in one way. Best years. Yeah.
Because he was just obsessed with and he loved her. And I'm not saying he didn't love us, but he just destructible all the things I think he loved you.
I know we did. Yeah. Yeah. But he wasn't the type to tell you. Oh gee. Like now. Yeah. Like but we would just laugh and that's why I'm saying we had a very friendly kind of like a weird relationship.
Yeah. Cool relationship. Yeah. It was very odd.
We would talk about things that is really sons and dads shouldn't really talk about, but that's the kind of relationship we had.
Listen, your guy was giving you brandy and smoking. Yeah. So can you imagine what you were doing, what your dad.
But it's funny, I kind of even with my own kids, I. My censorship level with them is very low, low. It is because I want them to know me because again, you don't know, you know, I want them to remember me.
I want them to know what I'm like, who you are as a person, not just a dodge. Yeah. And they absorb things like it's funny.
One of my daughters is it's creepily like him, like, wow.
It's just it's how in a good way. I just. Yeah. Just she looks like him and she she. Can't that be full, can't that be funny, though, it's like someone reminds you of someone that's not around anymore, someone strange she never met.
Isn't it funny how they can appear in your children?
A lot of people say that. It's very strange. It's very strange. I like what you said. Something I always say is, let's not speak ill of the dead. I don't know why.
And you were saying, you know, in Cairo, I say that a lot.
And there's something I charged with Madrona for this season.
I'm afraid Rondonia said, you know, I will always say the most positive, nice things about my mom, but then also my sisters. And I will also remember the day she was really annoyed or the day she told me off a mooradian. It's not so much because you have to also speak honestly of the people that have passed. You can't always put them on a pedestal. And it's something I'd never realized before I got married so that I went home and was able to have a conversation with my sisters.
And it's so funny that I only want to say nice things about my mom. It's so funny. I try and protect her. Now, of course, no one is an angel.
The woman had seven children. Yes, she was born with a wooden spoon, you know.
But yeah, I, I just don't want anyone to say anything and I don't know why that is.
Yeah. It's funny but it makes sense. You know. It does make sense. It's funny when I think what does a relationship that my daughter has my my 10 year old with my mother. Right. And I dread it. It gives me little palpitations because they're obsessed with each other.
And I were I feel for her. That's your daughter.
That's when my mom goes. She just wouldn't cope. It's because you've been through that probably with my own ground.
You're fearful of it because you see the relationship and reminds you of you and your granny and how much you loved her and how devastated you are. And now as a parent, you're going, shit, I don't want you don't want her to.
And it's inevitable. Yeah, it's inevitable. No, it is. You know, like even I wanted to bring the girls to to see my gran's great. I'm glad I didn't actually. But but I kind of wanted because I it's this thing of not talking about that.
One of the reasons when I decided to do this, I had the idea, Arthur and skiing in L.A. and Donal's kitchen, and that was in mammas February and April 2018. And it took me till December 2019 to actually I don't have the balls to have the courage to sit down and be able to talk about it, because no one talks about death, loss, grief, what you go through, how we change you as a person, how you feel, how you question everything.
And I didn't know why, and that's why I wanted to do this now, so I'm so thankful that people are like, yeah, let's talk about it. It's such. It's such a. It's such a personal thing and nobody I think it's just human nature not to be vulnerable all the time and to show vulnerability, you know, you don't sometimes you need to wail. You need to let it go. You need to you need to let that all out.
And like, I have moments where I be sitting on the couch and I'll be doing something and something will pop into my head and I'll just become upset. I just become upset about my dad or, you know, I'll think about something or his birthday or, you know, we use my sister and I use expressions about him all the time, you know, go for your story is what we. His name is Yosri.
So Foleo Street means go fucking mental, basically, you know, or, you know, he had a great sense of humor.
So we we he comes up in conversations all the time. Yeah. And then just subconsciously, sometimes you just wish they were there.
Yeah. Of course. You know, it never kind of goes away.
What age would you be around now with gaieties. You must be 72 and he was 50.
That's known as a man and was so young. My family lived past 50 50. He was 50 women.
Why do you think that this is not a lifestyle thing? Is that still. I think so. Like like he was he probably didn't take care of himself. I don't like 50 so young.
That's like I'm forty two. So like in nine years if I don't mind.
That's correct. Yeah. Yeah. That's scary isn't it. Yeah.
And especially when you see your grandfather was the same age and his grandfather and you're like fearful of that.
You know, at thirteen when you lost your grandpa who you idolized to losing your dad, do you now question your own mortality at all?
I never did. I think having children you do. Right, because you constantly you do things like buy life insurance. Yeah, because he changed.
Yes. Which I would never do. Changed. I would have spent it on shoes or trainers or something. I still do that. Do not touch me. Yeah but you've seen my bike today.
What do you do that you know, you start to, you start to contemplate. And a lot of the stuff I've done over the years is a lot of stunt things, you know, but I remember doing like sales then Table Mountain or whatever, and literally, literally just thinking about my kids and going out goes wrong here because, you know, and these things go through your head.
You know, I'm just though you have other people to worry about. It's not just about you know, I think for me what it is, is that relationship I have with them. And this could be arrogant, but I don't think it can be replaced. I give them something that their mom doesn't give them. Of course, you get me to a certain level of security or even a giddiness that we have together or foreign elements or whatever it is.
That's a very special bond we have. And if I was to go tomorrow, I it makes me sad that they would lose that. But it's inevitable that that will happen.
You know, I had I had a double lung surgery in 2011 and I had this pain and all the kids were way with my missus and I.
I went into the hospital and I was blue and the woman was gone. I think you might be having a panic attack.
I was like, I'm talking to you.
I'm having a great day. I just signed a deal. I'm not having a panic attack.
So long story short, I was this preemie preemie. Oh, the best was still to come. And I had this collapsed lung and they didn't X-ray. They came out and I went, look, it's ninety five percent. So we need to do this now fast. And this this doctor who looked like a child in a coat and she was riding around and and she was trying to stop me through the chest.
With this this needle to puncture punctured my lung and I threw her off me. I remember little bits of this.
How do you give it any sort of pain? No, I was just like this was raw. Raw. This is me. Full, like raw.
And the doctor came over and he slapped me really hard in the face, really, really hard. So he was like, you've got you've literally got two minutes to do this.
Lift your hand over your head. So lift my arm over my head. And he stopped me through the ribs. Right.
I remember kind of as I was passing, I remember thinking, I can't leave Hannah. Yeah, I can't. I can't I can't fucking die like this. I'm not ready to do this.
And when I woke up, Tania had flown back from Spain. I lost my mind. I spent the whole time I did away. She was having a good time. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
And I was like, I'm a little bit harsh because that's what I was feeling, was I long was gone. You were dying. She was gone. Oh really?
Because I got six kids here. I feel you're feeling tired sitting on your arse at home, you know, and I just hung up on her.
And next thing when I came through, she just appeared with this big smiley face going, Oh, hey, baby.
And I was like, I was gonna die. I was dying. But it was the closest I came.
To think in that I got to thinking that I might leave them and I was just I mean, I like nails dug again because.
Were you scared? I wasn't scared. I was terrified for them because the pain of grief.
It's that you've suffered, you know, like you can't. You can't you can't get that back, and I just I didn't want them to have that pain, I never I'd never wish it on anybody that they would lose someone close to them. And it's inevitable that everyone will do it. But at some point, it's it's just so unfair and so cruel and so heartbreaking. I believe that your heart is made up of this love for loads of different people.
And when they're gone, little bits of it just they come away. You can try and fill it with something else. But that was meant for that person. Yeah. And you can't quite get it back.
I you know, we lost mom and I lost my sister. So you didn't think I would sometimes like go with the D word and saying about Mom.
And I always sometimes I tell my mom as if it's contents, how is she as was saying, Habashi? And we went away.
It was my fault it went to Vegas in that may be lost last and the February I like I laughed in Vegas. But the thing is that I says I don't laugh the same. It's a different laugh. It's what you've just said about that piece of your heart. I'm not going to laugh at the same way, nor do I want to in a sense, because I'm not the same person.
You function, you get on with things and you know, you have love towards other people.
But there's that's like for me, my mom is I mean, this in a very selfish term is my whole family. You get me well, like people because you have amazing relationship.
I don't really I just have a normal mother son relationship. But we just it's always been me and her toughing it out together together. So the concept that I would just unthinkable. Yeah. Like I like even if I think about it now, it just it just would be I just wouldn't be able to fucking cope because nobody could console me for that. And I know it's inevitable it's going to happen, especially when your parents get to a certain age.
Yeah. You start looking at it. But even like just in the dark. I know, like, you know, we were doing a piss take scene all. I'll write the eulogy, I'll write yours and you write mine and I'll be like, Jesus Christ, like yours will be so long. And she's this amazing life where she moved. You married an Egyptian man, you know, became Nurse Idir in London, then moved back here. And then, you know, we haven't even got to it.
When you got to seventy, you became like a famous diva, you know, like it'll just be just. But when I think about it, it's. I don't know, it's just a friendship I don't have until you go through it, you can't explain it, you know, you just don't know what to say.
But I just always thinking, did you find can I ask you, did you find that having your siblings, you became tight? Yes. True.
Even tighter now, because I'm the eldest on the six girls are behind me and like, I'm probably my quietest when I'm around them because my sisters have big, loud personalities.
You know, I looked at your side. Your sisters are been telling about like I remember when we were looking at bridesmaids dresses. My two friends that were bridesmaids are really strong, independent women. And there was an issue over the color of the dresses that I wanted. And my sister like a fucking artist, and they were like backs to the wall. They were like from the Dowling girls go at it with you. I think it's very good because there are so many of us.
When the shit hit the fan and I'd come back in from L.A. like I'm dramatic at the best of times, it was quite good that they were able to kick my arse out of bed, you know, even though I was emotional and I was like, and I'm not eating at all of the drama. Then one day I come down and I was pale and the hair all over the place and the dressing gown and made an effort. My sisters were like, man would be ashamed.
You'd be here with the roll in your hair, the tinted moisturiser. And they were like, get that ironed out and you pick out. I just called my shirts a blouse. Well, twenty minutes later you wouldn't recognize me, you know, because my mom was very much like the show goes on and my sisters are very good at what one of us is in a slump yet kind of like the whole.
I think it's interesting because when you I have we have met each other now, like from six six six. Yeah.
So it's near enough when when you're an only child does it, there's a flip because what it is is all your mother's love is yours, but all the grief is yours. Yeah. And that's, that's the payoff. Yeah. You know when, when there's many children it's spread over these children and you have kind of as a group you might have that dynamic when you're on your own. It's it's kind of left to you. You know, the grief is left to you and it's something that.
We've had so many conversations about it with me, Nancy, that I like I should be prepped, you know, I should be OK. You know, there's not much more to be said, but like you said at the very start of this, it's never just never there's going to be there's always progress.
And like I walk around and the fact that I have never still haven't had children, you know, because I talked with my mom about it and she would say to me, you are way too fucking selfish.
And I'm like, Mom? And she was right, like in my thirties.
You know what it is? It's especially with a parent I know, like. They know you inside out and still like you. Yes, yes, even at your worst, like you did your relationships, you're like, I just I could leave but like, what's the point? I just have to go through all this again and realize I'm a dipshit.
So, you know, but but it is that thing where they just know you so well that you can turn to them knowing that they know everything about you and they can judge you the best and given you.
It's even like, you know, coming up to Christmas, mum was obsessed with Christmas. Santa stopped coming to me. Oh, well, maybe maybe that's how old I was on 12.
And like, my mom and dad was still give us a presumption that present, even at 39, was always in the same place it was when I was a child, you know, and even like just bring in our for like a hot chocolate. It's just something that is just so basic and bringing around, getting a hot chocolate, having a laugh with a walk around Country Village a Christmas. And I'd also bring out wooden stores. I used to work and dance on the tables and I bring her to dance when it was open 24 hours around Christmas and was like the twenty third of December.
And she loved at half 11 at night walking around on stores and then she'd do this thing.
I would always pay for the big shop rights, even though the year before she passed the December 12th of February and she'd always do this thing where she'd go to the purse, she'd go looking for the card.
You no, but also saw the lady on the table. And I'd always go, Oh, no, mom, please let me get my mind. I'm going, bitch. You know, I've been doing this for how many years. I you know, this is a whopper. And she'd always be like, no, no, no, no.
So you're so you're so lucky she got to see you. Yes.
You got she's seen a lot of successes, which I'm really chuffed and like, you know, a bit like, you know, your life in the industry where and it's not normal. And I've got a chance to travel to meet some incredible people. Sometimes it's just a memory. You know, when I went on The Late, Late Show for the first time and Kenny was interviewing me and I'm thinking, well, I've arrived like I have arrived.
I'm on the late night show. I'm twenty three years of age. I worked at Ryanair a few months ago and she'd say, I don't want anyone to talk to me.
Please, please, please. And then, you know, the big boom and it comes down in the shadow.
And then you couldn't shut her up, you know.
But it's just like with the referendum stuff that meant so much to me because she walked me down the aisle. And to have that moment and for all you know, my sister, you know, we've had one baby born since we lost Mum. But to have all of that and I also feel sorry for the grandkids that they've been robbed so young.
I had it for 39 years. And even though I'm one of seven, I say to the girls, I was the favorite, you know, but I believe it.
I love both of you here. I don't like when I leave this world. I was I, I was I believe it.
And I say with such conviction, you know, that they think they don't know. But I know they also know that I know I was the favorite.
It's I think it was the favorites. I well.
Believe you or I well believe you can see my I know I know people that are dilating here, but I think it's I think it is the thing where, like my dad, it always saddened me that he never got to see me as a mom, to get me as a parent or as a parent or see his grandchildren or, you know, put more from a selfish point of view, see me just as a man because I was still a boy.
You know, I was still like young, you know, and we hadn't spoken. So you feel kind of robbed of those things. But this is what you do. You you analyze every little song that you can overanalyze everything.
Absolutely. You know, you've just kind of kind of, I suppose, try and just cherish what you did have. You know, it's. Let's start with the documentary you've done with your mom, has that been on telly, you know, right, OK.
Has that prepared you in any way to have those conversations with your children, especially the younger the 10 year old? You are telling me he was totally obsessed even at the weekend?
I was not. But, Nancy, I was looking at her in the garden with my mom doing the gardening. And it's funny because they're obsessed with laptops and tablets and things. But when she goes to my mom, they play cards, they play 25 together, and then they go out into the garden and she shows her how to do the mint and the roses and and they just have this.
This relationship. That is it's just pure, pure granny granddaughter relationship.
It's almost like you're saying it's the innocence and I could cry looking at them because I just know that they're like snapshots. You know, I can remember sitting with my dad and him crying over his mom when she died.
Well, it's weird, these memories that just pop into your head.
But a lot of them, they say your first few memories are usually bad ones that you remember for a child.
Yeah. Yeah, actually, yes. They say that, you know, that you remember these kind of bad moments.
But when you focus and you channeler, you remember these really sweet things and it's an innocence that you have at that age. And I just for her for for Hannah, I just would hate I would hate her to feel that pain because she'll feel it more than any of them.
I think, you know, my mom was obsessed so blatantly, so much so.
They were like, easy on this is the favor. I mean, it's but that's because she wants to spend time with her.
You know, she literally just wants to sit there and talk to talk to Nana and, you know, sit at home. It's very weird watching them watch 50 ways. You know, much, much in your granny was just sky diving. You know, you said Leppard's. Yeah. And listen to her adventures. And I was like I was in shows. Well, you know, not just about you, but.
Yeah. Do you scene stealer again. But but that's who her name is, you know, to her. But, you know, superhero.
Do you know, I think in a sense of to be tan and to have this role model, you know, and as a woman in this day and age that is so ballsy and doing all of that stuff is amazing for her that she'll emulate her and want to be just like Nancy.
But see, that's the thing. I just I want her because Nancy's been such a literally I will call into Nancy if I'm having a bad day just for just for a cup of tea, just literally to feel better. Because when I feel better, it's like a Xanax. She's like Xanax. That's what she's like. And I Nanex.
Yeah, well, it's it's not like I own the idea.
I said it was 50/50. Yeah. OK, fifty fifty. It's, it's like she's just one of those people you spend time with her and you feel better.
Yeah. And and I don't think I have anyone else like that in my life, you know. And where would you go and where would you get that feeling from. You know, and I've learned so much from her that I know she she has a lot to give to my my children, but for years to come.
For years to come, let's hope you know.
And how did your mom react to the passing of your dad?
Really sweet. My mom is very clever. My mom never bothered me and my dad ever, ever. And she could have I think I was doing and she wasn't right. Because even when I asked, like, I got to a certain age and I was like, I want to move to CA, I'm done here and da da.
And my mom was like, OK, no problem. See how you like us.
You know, this will be learned here. But but she was right.
She knew culturally I needed that, you know, but she never bothered me. And she's very close. So really good friends are all my aunts in Cairo and they talk all the time. And my my my sister now lives with my mom, which is a weird. Yes.
It's not that different by different names. His daughter and I lived with my mom and I think a good relationship has great social ties.
You know, which is again, it's just weird the way life kind of on sometimes, you know.
How would you describe. Grief in general and from being at one age to have the loss and then being older or losing your dad and now fearful of your children, how would you describe grief?
I was always even though I'm talking about very calmly, I was always quite hysterical about.
Right, you get me you're not giving me hysterical. No, but but that's because I've had a long time. I'm 45 now. My dad died when I was in my early 20s. You know, my grandma died when I was like 14, you know, so.
It's the shock of it, it's the shock of grief. You know, it's the it's the. You kind of look at the window and the world keeps spinning and, you know, people keep walking along and you watch people and it's like you're outside of yourself and you're gone.
How can the world just keep going on? Does everyone not know my dad's dead? Does everyone not realize that? You know, it was the same when my gran and you just realized that this is this is how it goes.
Yeah. Nothing stops and it just keeps going. Yeah. And you have to internally deal with it and sometimes you can. We're very lucky, you know, we can talk about it, but sometimes you don't. You have to you have to battle that grief in your own, like friends who lost both his parents and his and his sister. And, you know, it has just been drowned in grief. And he's so composed and I've never seen cry about it or be upset, but he's he's done all his crying, you know, there's a stage where you just yeah, enough's enough.
Enough's enough. But I think from an empathy point of view, it lets you feel for other people, you know, like it's.
It's just such a shock. Do you think it's harder for. We talked about this before and he was with Nicky Barr and with Bishop, we talked about toxic masculinity, which you think is a man.
It's harder to express your emotions. I mean, I'm not that type of man, right? I'm very I'm very emotionally open to anything wrong with crime. What am I going to do, tie it up in a knot and bury it somewhere?
And I don't know, because the effects are going to come out of it. You got me like you know, like, I think it's I've always been very open like that.
You know, my mom, funnily enough, is much tougher than I am right now.
I think I've seen Nancy cry Çöpler on her head and temper at me, and she's in hysterical rage and attacked me with a broom. Yeah, like, I don't know. But, you know, like, that's having a teenage boss was like.
Yes, but but like for me now, like, it's funny though, I suppose you put on the think we're in a great time now where this toxic masculinity isn't. Yeah. Like, you know, even at home, like Tonya would say something like, oh my God, you can you can, you know, fix the the doors. And I was like, fix the doors what you mean. And she's like the handles.
I mean is a fixed excuse me.
Did you just fuckin meet it when you saw it. How you saw you want someone to write you a sonnet.
I'm here fixing door handles ghetto dylon no match.
So no, I think the only way to get over grief is to let it out. Yeah, you have to let it out. But sometimes people want to do that in a personal space. They don't want to do it in front. They don't want to see it as a weakness. But I think that toxic toxic masculinity has to be just stomped on.
I've always believed that talking therapy, one of the reasons for doing this was that I enjoy talking about my mom and we mentioned her about having six sisters is I'm always hearing I even to this day, I still hear stories I didn't know about my mom, which I find incredible. How didn't I know she had this moment with my sister where she tripped or my sister fell over a hamburger. My mom said, get off the way. You can show yourself I stories that even the day that mom passed away, I have six different angles of what happened and around the bed and how someone else was hyperventilating and someone else was in the corner and the ambulance was there and it was the girls from the ambulance.
What was the first? I didn't know that. And who arrive first and when did you know what Dad said? It's hearing those different stories and I'm still piecing it together.
I smile when I talk about it because it fills me with joy. It's a huge part of your life.
Yeah, it's a bit like not talking about the nineties. Yeah, it's impossible. When I was a child. Yes. I don't remember the 90s.
You forget you're a lot older than me. I'm like, you need to remember that.
But I remember when my when my dad died and I found out I was back in Dublin. My moment we have a cup of tea. And I was I don't care. What are you. But obviously this is the Irish. Yes. And Irish. Mammy, let's talk. Yeah.
You know, I was like, I don't even drink tea. She's like, you're missing the point. You know, it's a sit down. They just sit there in front of Kimberly's and just talk, you know, and it's the best therapy.
So it totally is. I don't know if I'm near acceptance yet or I don't know if I ever will. I think it's something that I'll always be quite angry about.
I never thought I would. I never. Right. I was furious. Like I said, I was hysterical about it. But there is a stage where my kids now the six year old, and she asks about her granddad a lot and she sees photos in the house. And, you know, there's old video footage. It's show you what the early 80s, 70s is like. It's just it's just tape. It's there's no volume or voice, you know, it's just visuals.
Yeah. But, you know, it's you know, she wants to know things. And also the Egyptian culture is all on that side of the family. So I have to explain things to.
Yeah. And and talk them through.
I'm laughing about what we started out was told about your documentary with your mom and how you are the best friend.
And she's like trying to hold it together. Yeah. Do you think that is because she's older and the fact that she was able to tell you what she wants, did you find any reassurance in that or was it too much of a reality of what life potentially will be like without her?
We went coffin shop and now we went looking at coffins and coffin shop and like, yeah, honestly, I like when we were there, I was like, you've got to be kidding me.
And then my default was to go, listen, we'll go full Saddam Hussein.
We've got something, lots of gold.
And, you know, I just I kept taking the mickey and taking them because it's real.
I just couldn't like and then she was like, I don't want to be buried. And I was like, God, because I don't want remember.
And then she was like, what do you think, a war cremation? And I was like, ah, that's water cremation.
It's like you dissolve basically everything. Just how. Yeah. What if there's a machine.
OK, no that's no, I'm just to let you know, my mother, a big fan of us. Yeah. She's, she was like Oh and the most.
Relaxing, it's nice, but it's the most eco of of so now Nancy wants an eco funeral. Yeah, wow, she's one of those. And then we went to London and we looked at these really fancy kind of beautiful coffins and we're talking about cremation. And we had these really. Open conversations that I don't know if there was a conclusion at the end, but I I suppose I opened up the prospect that it's inevitable that at some stage, did you ever in your mind even thought at all about losing your mom before you see, the documentary was a harsh truth.
I regretted Makina.
Why? Because it was so. It's like it's like innocence again, and it was opening the door to a place I really didn't want to go. Right. And and I think it'll benefit you, though.
I think it I think I look back. Yeah. Many years from now and look back at it and go for me.
Yeah, but you laugh. Yeah. I think in this day and age we have so much footage of mom, but sometimes I forget what our voice sounds like.
I heard it every day for 39 years. I don't know how I would think, you know, and only recently we've seen a pick up mom that I've never seen before. And it was at my cousin's wedding and she had our hair flower.
And she's running quite a really long track.
And I went, who took this picture of Mom? And secondly, aware of this.
But also she's got a really like a tan line. And it's so funny because I was looking at my mom with a completely different way in a picture I'd never seen before.
And it's so funny in this day and age how we're able to document everything.
And I think you have shared and I'm so envious that you've shared these such incredible, unique moments when you're putting your mother through fucking hell and you have it.
I know it's incredible.
You know, it's funnier. I'll tell you, as much as Tanya's obsessed with photos and she's obsessed and I'm not and I always worried like a lot of people do, what if I forget my dad? Yeah. Or if I forget it like you say. What if I forget what he sounds like? Yeah. And then, I mean, right, I look in the mirror and I see him sometimes or I look at my hands and I go, fuck my hands, huge.
It's like they're like his hands and feet. And like I say, my daughter, I look at her and I catch her and I just think she's so much like him and he's alive in this other space where I'm like, well, I look nothing like my mother.
Like maybe we've the same honker about that's about it. And but again, she's in me.
She's in every sense of me, she's in my personality and she's in little personality traits that my kids have and they stay alive in way. Yeah, I know. But I think resistance that's a process.
Yeah. You know, that's not something visual.
It's nice. But I don't think I could sit and watch the 50 ways of the only time.
But it's the only time I've ever seen you kind of uncomfortable is talking about that. I can see it kind of in your face and in your body language first thing we ever did because it was weird.
We were doing we sat in her kitchen. She wants to do a skydive. And the first thing we did for her birthday was do the high skydive in the world. And what she had, she was 70. Wow.
And. We got into the plane and we were joking around, having a good laugh, going into the plane, and all of a sudden she was pontes, she was ready and I was like, come on.
I'll go first and the guy, but no, no, we'll go first, and I was like, what? Your mother jumped out of a plane at 17 at 17, and I think I cried the whole way down. Yeah.
Man, it's also my mother. I remember her disappearing behind this hill.
And it's all documented because when we landed, she landed way away from me and I went running over to her and she got sick.
I always remember this.
And I was like, oh, my God, she got sick because it was too traumatic injuries.
And she was like, I shouldn't have eaten that panini. And I was like, When? When did you eat a panini? Right before I had a latte. And I never drink lattes. Right.
And I broke down in tears just on her knees. And in that moment, it was it was a real recognition of the entirety of my love for this woman. Yeah. That that I would just I just could never live a day where I just could never, you know, have that as a concept.
But that was the beginning as you tried to kill me was the only time I ever got upset. You're in 50 ways, right? Was the first one we did where I taught.
I killed my mom for a TV show the first 50 ways and the first one until we got to 49 other ways.
So but but it was it was this real recognition, this moment that I had when I was in my head in her lap, and I was just like, God, mom, I just don't think I've and this is a terrible thing to say because I have kids and a wife and everything, but I just don't think I love anyone. But yeah.
You know, well, you know, I've described it as the my greatest love, but also my greatest loss. And I'm not a parent. And I always think the mother son I was the only boy. And she we all know she loved me the most.
Yeah. They were all clear. Yeah. Is that what you say? Like I actually said it, I think I was doing a podcast with Sheila Show again and I said I realized I was talking about it and Sheila's voice is so soothing. So I think maybe she hypnotized me slightly.
He's about to start the show with his voice. It's like, just keep talking to me. And I said that it's the seven children. A piece of each of us went in the coffin with Mom because it had to, you know, and I'm happy with that if I'm now running on eighty five percent as opposed to 100, because I know wherever she is, she has us with her and in a way will live on with her.
And until the last one of us, which you would hope, even my younger sister Tara was only twenty six until she takes, you know, her last breath that mom is alive and well every day. Well you know all of us, you know, but that's a process to get to know.
Like in Mexico, they have this belief as well that, you know, the person doesn't doesn't it doesn't pass over as long as you keep talking. Right. I didn't know that. Yeah. So that the longer they have signs of dead people that have dead.
Dead. Yeah. And they celebrated and it's the truth. Yeah. Like, you know, even though sitting here talking about ah you know, people who've passed away, you keep them alive inside you.
Yeah. I really believe I know this sounds or kooky like but it's, it's true.
And you have a laugh and you tell anecdotes. Yeah. And you laugh about things myself. My sister did all the time when I could just. And it keeps them, it keeps some real, it keeps them close even though they're gone.
I think I have to say out of all the episodes I've done, this is the one I've loved the most.
That's that's good anyway, because like when I was doing this and people would contact me and say, oh, I'm so sorry to say this, but I'm really enjoying the podcast. I'm like, why are you apologizing? I people are saying, oh, you know, I'm laughing. But you have to find humor in life and in the greatest losses that we go through, because as we've said before, you don't laugh, you cry and is my go to and I sense it's the same even during awkward moments.
Laugh, laugh at default. It's the default. Yeah.
Well, thank you so much for taking part in this episode. Thank you so much for being so honest.
Oh, thank you. You've made me laugh. But also, you know what? You're a big softy at heart.
You I think you are.
And I can see that when you know Nancy, you know, means so much to you.
And I can see that it's still the thought of not having her is an area you don't want to go to yet, which I completely, fully respect. I think your kids are blessed to have you. I think you're fabulous.
And you've also got an Emmy, something you're likely just the next. How can you bring the Emmy? Yes. Is it heavy?
It's it's it's crimes. It's complete. And I'm sure that it's.
Yes. Knows from talking to bars, it's clear he has a massive appreciation for family and life. It's a reminder to make everyday count, to tell those around us how much you love them and to live your life to the absolute fullest.
Next week, I sit down with Marad Ronan. Morad lost her mom when she was turning 21 and talks to me about how she still thinks about her, still talks about her and the lasting effects that love has had in her life. I think it definitely does get easier. But there there's still flashes and I think they will happen in 30 years. It's and it's more moments missed. So, you know, somebody having a baby, like when I had it, you know, I had a daughter then.
So I was a mother to a daughter and I didn't have my own mother around. I missed my weddings, both of them.