Andrew Strauss reveals telling his sons their mum was dying was ‘hardest conversation’ of his life

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Former England director of cricket Andrew Strauss has revealed that telling his sons their mum was going to die was the ‘hardest conversation’ of his life. 

The father-of-two, 42, discussed life since wife Ruth’s death and opened up about how he and his sons Sam, 13, and Luca, 10, cope with their grief in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live podcast, You, Me and The Big C.

Reflecting on the death of Ruth, who died from a rare form of lung cancer, he told podcast hosts Deborah James, Lauren Mahon and Steve Bland:

‘I remember coming back from the hospital and having the take the boys to the side and say “listen, I had a chat to the doctors and they’ve told us we’re going to have to say goodbye to Mum soon.”‘ 

‘That was the hardest conversation I’ve had in my lifetime. It’s still brutally vivid in my mind.’

Andrew Strauss, 42, has revealed that telling his sons their mum was going to die was the 'hardest conversation' of his life. Pictured on Lorraine on 21 May 2019

Andrew Strauss, 42, has revealed that telling his sons their mum was going to die was the ‘hardest conversation’ of his life. Pictured on Lorraine on 21 May 2019

in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live podcast, You, Me and The Big C, Andrew explained how their two sons, Sam (L) and Luca, cope with their mum's death. Pictured, after winning the Ashes in 2009

in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live podcast, You, Me and The Big C, Andrew explained how their two sons, Sam (L) and Luca, cope with their mum’s death. Pictured, after winning the Ashes in 2009

Ruth died in December 2018, a year after being diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of lung cancer. 

Andrew stepped down from his role with the England and Wales Cricket Board in October 2018.

Talking about his grief, Strauss describes it as a ‘deep guttural grief’ and how the process has been ‘completely different’ to what he expected.

‘The thing with grief is there’s no rhyme or reason to it and it’s been completely different to how I thought it was going to be,’ he explained.    

‘I thought I was going to be in bits for the first two or three weeks and unable to function completely, and I was surprisingly functional to the extent I’m like, “is there something wrong with me here?”

He continued: ‘But then it hits you. And for me it doesn’t hit me for a whole day, it hits me for 10 minutes, an hour, two hours.’

Andrew Strauss's wife Ruth (pictured) died in December 2018 at the age of 46 after battling a rare form of lung cancer. Pictured, Andrew received an OBE for services to Cricket Investitures at Windsor Castle in Berkshire on 4 Oct 2011

Andrew Strauss’s wife Ruth (pictured) died in December 2018 at the age of 46 after battling a rare form of lung cancer. Pictured, Andrew received an OBE for services to Cricket Investitures at Windsor Castle in Berkshire on 4 Oct 2011

‘It’s like this deep guttural grief I haven’t even got close to experiencing ever before in my life. It’s extraordinary and I’ve found different things bring it on at different times.’

The former director of cricket, who met Ruth in Sydney in 1998 and went on to marry five years later, admits that he grieves in private.

‘You grieve different elements,’ he explained. ‘You grieve your wife who’s gone, you grieve the fact she had cancer and you had to watch her die, you grieve the fact the life you built isn’t going to be the same as the one going forward.’

‘All these different elements hit you at different times. I feel fortunate I’ve had the right sort of professional help and I’ve tried not to overthink it.’

Since his late wife’s death, Andrew has set up the Ruth Strauss Foundation in her honour, to provide grants to fund research into rare lung cancers and to provide support to patients and families. 

He also told the podcast that while his sons are doing ‘remarkably well,’ their mum’s  death is not something they often talk about. 

‘They’re doing remarkably well,’ he said. ‘I was doing some interviews the other week to launch the foundation and that was everyone’s first question.’

Andrew met Ruth in his twenties and credits his success to her saying she encouraged him to pursue professional cricket. Pictured at Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London on 5 July, 2017

Andrew met Ruth in his twenties and credits his success to her saying she encouraged him to pursue professional cricket. Pictured at Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London on 5 July, 2017

Former England player Andrew Strauss during the ICC Cricket World Cup group stage match at the Hampshire Bowl, Southampton

Former England player Andrew Strauss during the ICC Cricket World Cup group stage match at the Hampshire Bowl, Southampton

‘I said “they’re doing amazingly well and they’re brave and they crack on with life.” I went home that night and thought, you know what, I better ask the kids.

He continued: ‘They don’t want to talk about it that often, if I’m honest. But I did say, “come on guys, how are you feeling, what are the things you’re worried about?”

‘We had a really great hour or two just chatting through stuff. That’s one of the things counsellors say – kids aren’t naturally going to talk about it, you’ve got to give them permission to talk about it.’

‘They have some bad days. We had Ruth’s memorial service a couple of weeks ago and that was brutally tough. For me, it was much harder than the funeral. It was tough for me and the kids. It’s tough, but it’s remembering and that’s what you want to do.’

And talking about whether he might one day return to working in cricket, Andrew added: 

‘I’m not sure. It’s a lovely thing to be a fan again. At the moment, I’ve got the bit between my teeth, I want to make this [the foundation] a success and you feel like you have a relatively limited time to nail it when it’s still recent in people’s minds, I’m trying to grab that with both hands. It’s not work, it’s a passion.

‘I know we can do something incredible with this foundation. I’m lucky I have a platform to be able to get it out there publicly. We have some big things coming up.’    

BBC Radio 5 Live and You, Me and The Big C



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