LAST Christmas was agony for Christine Flack. It was the first since she lost her beloved daughter, TV favourite Caroline.
And she fears this year will be even harder.
Caroline Flack tragically died in February 2020 at the age of 40Credit: Fabulous Magazine
Her mum Christine Flack has opened up on how this Christmas will be harder than the lastCredit: Tim Stewart
It has been nearly two years since the vivacious TV presenter‘s passing, and her heartbroken mum says things are only getting tougher for the Flack family — especially for Caroline’s “other half” twin Jody.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Christine, 71, admits: “It’s been worse this year, because it’s become real.”
One thing that hasn’t helped, Christine says, is seeing people who did not really know her daughter claiming they were close.
“It’s hard. I saw someone on the telly this week calling her a friend and it really hurt,” she says.
“When a death is in the media, you can’t just grieve quietly.
“There’s lots of people grieving that don’t know her personally, so you’re looking after them, as well as all her friends.”
Speaking at the launch of the Good Grief Trust’s Grief Awareness Week, Christine — who calls her daughter Carrie — says she speaks to Caroline’s “really old, closest friends” all the time.
They include presenter Natalie Pinkham, charity CEO Josie Naughton and writer Dawn O’Porter, who recently visited from Los Angeles, where she lives with her actor husband Chris O’Dowd, to pay tribute to Caroline on her birthday.
“Josie and Caroline met when they lived together in Camden. She met Dawn when she was presenting I’m A Celebrity: Extra Camp and Natalie while working on a poker show. They are the friends I knew.
‘She was just so much fun and so funny’
“I like seeing Natalie, Josie and Dawn, but it hurts sometimes when I have to see people who say they knew her.”
Caroline’s friends and family will visit a memorial bench in Norfolk’s woodland on Christmas Day.
The bench reads: “Caroline Louise Flack 19/11/1979 — 15/02/2020. Our beautiful girl whose tiny feet made such a big imprint on the world.
“Carrie, we miss and love you so very much. Just to have another moment, another kiss, another smile.
“One more chance to hear you laughing or hold you for a while.”
The powerful sentiment sums up how Christine feels — and the scenic spot has become somewhere she can be with her memories.
“We all needed a place just to come, sit and remember really, and this fitted it, it was just beautiful,” Christine explains.
“It’s like it’s yours, it’s hers. It’s a place to go and she’s not even there. I like to go there and sit.
It allows you to talk to Carrie because you feel silly anywhere else.”
Christine reveals that many of Caroline’s closest loved ones meet there on a weekly basis, but, for her recent 42nd birthday in November, many of her friends were at the bench too.
“It was so beautiful,” Christine recalls. “We ended up laughing about Carrie, telling stories, getting angry about her.
“We were all talking to her like she’s still here!”
In the weeks before she died, Caroline hoped she would be able to clear her name after being charged with assaulting her boyfriend Lewis Burton.
She had also met documentary makers hoping she could tell her story later down the line.
But the TV host ended her life on February 15 last year, before she had the chance to make the documentary.
Instead, Christine and Jody honoured her wish by filming Caroline Flack: Her Life And Death for Channel 4 this year.
It showed the family pouring their hearts out, but Christine says in a way the emotional project helped them get through the hardest time imaginable.
“There was so much going on last year, with everything, people talking, and that documentary really helped,” she says.
“And now it’s really hit me, it’s real. And you just miss them, that’s all.”
As well as Caroline, Christine is a loving mum to Lizzie, 51, Paul, 50, and Jody, 42.
And while she says all her children are “finding it hard”, it’s Caroline’s twin Jody who is suffering most, as the pair had an extremely close relationship.
“Carrie was like Jo’s other half,” Christine says. “They were together all the time.”
Caroline often spoke about her close bond to her film editor twin — once revealing they shared a bed until they were four years old. They were also in the same class at school.
In her 2015 autobiography, Storm in A C Cup, Caroline wrote: “The great thing about having a twin is that you always have someone to play with.
“During the whole of my childhood, from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to sleep, I never knew what it was like to be alone.”
Jody is mother to three children, Zuzu, Willow and Delilah, and Christine confesses they are “struggling too”.
The whole family finds it funny how much Jody’s eldest, 16-year-old Willow, is morphing into her Aunt Carrie. “She’s just like Caroline,” Christine says with a laugh. “She’s messy, outrageous, she’s like another version of her!
“Jo said it’s like living with Carrie when she was a child.”
The Flack family try to keep Caroline’s memory alive as much as they can. Christine confesses her daughter is in her thoughts “every second of the day”.
“I think about her when she was little and what she was like then,” she says. “And then funny things she did and said.
“She was just so much fun and she was so funny.”
Before her death Caroline was sacked by Love Island bosses in the wake of a drunken row with her boyfriend Lewis.
The popular presenter — who had told about her mental health anguish — was axed before a proposed court case had even begun, and immediately replaced by presenter Laura Whitmore.
Carrie was like Jody’s other half, they were together all the time
Christine with Carrie and Jody as childrenCredit: Instagram
Christine cites Dawn O’Porter as one of Caroline’s only real friendsCredit: Getty
Caroline Flack had planned a TV documentary to explain her side of the storyCredit: Getty Images
‘It was constant highs then sudden lows’
Christine has passionately defended her daughter, explaining she was diagnosed with bipolar weeks before her death.
It was the culmination of years of struggling with her mental health.
Christine explains: “Carrie suffered for a long while but never showed it because her outgoing personality covered everything. Mainly she was happy, and funny, and brilliant.
“She just had these terrific down times — and not many people saw those down times.
“That was the thing, she hid it. The last doctor she saw thought she may have had bipolar. That’s what I always thought. It was just constant highs, all of a sudden, then the lows.
“Usually something would happen, but it would always eventually pass. I’ve slept so many times in her bed until the thing that was upsetting her had passed.”
Like many people with mental health issues, Caroline struggled to get the clinical support she desperately needed — something that was made worse by her desire to hide her struggles.
Christine adds: “She was so ashamed of people thinking she had mental health problems.
“She was known as this happy-go-lucky girl, she was petrified of people seeing her dark side, and thinking she was ‘mental’.”
Caroline may be gone, but Christine is determined to honour her wishes — and won’t let her be written off as a tragic figure.
Mainly Carrie was happy, and funny, and brilliant. She just had these terrific down times, and not many people saw those down times
She says: “It’s so important to me that Carrie is not tainted by those last few months of her life. I hate the memory of my daughter to be a negative one, as she wasn’t negative.
“She always saw the positive in something. She was so fun, so kind, so funny, so loving.
“She always tried to be a good role model for young women especially. I want her to be remembered for these things. She wasn’t tragic, she had a wonderful life and I am so immensely proud of her.”
Christine was speaking at the launch of Good Grief Trust’s Grief Awareness Week. For more information go to https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org/
Christine Flack says she wants Caroline to be remembered as a good role modelCredit: Paul Edwards
Caroline’s twin Jodie had urged her to quit showbizCredit: WENN
Christine says that Caroline was like her twin sister Jody’s ‘other half’Credit: Instagram
Caroline’s family got a bench for her where they go to sit and remember herCredit: Channel 4
Jody has been struggling since her twin sister died
Christine (left) was speaking at Good Grief Trust’s Grief Awareness Week launchCredit: Rafe Abrook/Good Grief Trust
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