Kate Garraway has said it was a “stop the clock” moment when she learned her husband Derek Draper was going to die.
The TV star made an emotional appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain just three days after laying her husband to rest at a funeral on Friday, and spoke of her “outpouring of love for everyone that has supported me”.
Appearing from her home with bouquets of flowers and Lego in the background, she joked: “Let’s just own the mess and go with it, Lego and chaos all.”
She expressed her gratitude for a book of condolence with messages from viewers she had received, as well as three baskets of cards from viewers and ITV crew.
She said: “It’s just amazing. It feels like my emotions are at 110%. The unbelievable love that we all have as a GMB family, it’s just wonderful. We are very lucky.
“The love that we have as a family all together, which is people watching at home, we’re so connected.
“And we’ve always been connected in all our joys, and all our fun and the challenges of life, of which poor Derek has faced head-on, and our family has done as well.
“But having those messages, it makes me weep, because I feel so grateful.
“I’m also aware that there are people this morning that don’t have that sense of love. And I just want to share with you because I know there’ll be people going to funerals today, who will be hearing terrible diagnoses today, who will be facing the worst today.
“And I’m thinking of them, really, because I know how they feel, and I’m lucky that I’ve got all of you.”
Draper’s funeral was attended by figures including former prime minister Sir Tony Blair, musician Sir Elton John and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
The service was held on Friday at the Church of St Mary The Virgin in Primrose Hill, north-west London.
Former political lobbyist-turned-psychologist Draper married the GMB presenter at the same church in September 2005.
Draper fell seriously ill during the early part of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 and spent 13 months in hospital before he was discharged.
He died on January 3 aged 56 after suffering long-lasting symptoms from coronavirus.
Asked how she managed to keep it together while caring for her husband for four years, she said: “I’m not sure I did it very well. I think I relied on everybody else, like we all do.
“I think I’ve got a massive debt to so many people and not least to Derek, actually, because his spirit and fight to keep going, never once did he say: ‘I don’t want to try. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do that.’
“Nor have the children. The children have been extraordinary throughout.”
Addressing how it felt when she was told Draper would not survive a serious downturn in his health, she said: “It was one of those ‘stop the clock’ moments, where you want the world to stop.
“And I think the vacuum you feel at that point, having been entirely focused for four years on: what do I need to do next? What can I do for Derek, what’s happening with the children? All of that it swamps you.
“Thinking: right, we have what we were told was 24 hours, and turned out to be more than a month of him fighting on and fighting on even though the prognosis was, this is one he won’t make through.
“And that’s a challenge, because for the children, when they heard the doctors say he won’t survive this, they’ve heard that so many times.
“We knew Derek could still hear even though he couldn’t open his eyes, so it was a challenge to make sure he knew that he wasn’t letting us down, because he couldn’t get through this last one.”
She said both the children spent time with their father on their own, adding: “Darcey said: ‘If you can’t don’t this, we will be OK,’ and I thought that was extraordinarily brave.”
The couple’s daughter Darcey served as a pallbearer at the service, and Garraway said: “She insisted on doing it and I thought it was a beautiful thing.”
Of Darcey and son Billy, she added: “Their grieving will continue, we are in the foothills, we know there is a long way to go.”
However, she said she is looking to the future, adding: “A new life starts now. I don’t quite know how it’s gonna be. But grief isn’t containable in a day or a month or a year.
“I think some people say: why are you going back to work? Well, everybody does have to, don’t they? Life has to start.”
Paying tribute to carers, she said: “We have so much brilliance in our medical profession, and so much skill, but we need to have a different system of supporting, caring, and also anything that really happens once you’re not in the life and death moment.
“It needs to change and it hopefully will change.
“But I think for people watching that are in a caring position, they will know two things – how unbelievably hard it is, but what an honour, and how much I wish I was caring today.
“Because it’s an incredible thing to be that line of defence against the world.”
Garraway will return to the desk on the ITV show on Thursday and joked: “I’m going to be looking forward to a blow dry.
“I’m going to be finding fake eyelashes. I’m going to be very much looking forward to applying fake tan.
“Don’t worry, I will be a little bit more respectable by Thursday. I’ll be doing a lot of homework between now and then because I feel like I’ve been in a very small bubble.
“So I’m going to look forward really to coming into the world and sharing what’s going on for everybody else and connecting with everybody again.
“So, thank you for having me back, and have a little bit of patience. I might be a bit rusty … There is a new king, isn’t there? Have I caught up with that?”
She added she has received “extraordinary” messages of condolence from unexpected places.
Garraway said: “I had the most beautiful letter from David and Victoria Beckham – handwritten, very good handwriting… that was Darcey’s observation.
“And from the royal family – Catherine and William sent a beautiful letter, and I know Catherine has been in hospital herself.
“Even the King, because there is somebody knows about grief, that anticipatory grief where you know something has a risk of happening and how different it is when it does happen.”