Jill Halfpenny’s Partner’s Death Helps Her Grieve Her Father

Jill Halfpenny’s Partner’s Death Helps Her Grieve Her Father

Jill Halfpenny has said that the tragic sudden death of her partner Matt Janes finally helped her grieve her late father. 

The Byker Grove actress, 48, felt ‘cursed’ when she lost Matt in 2017 to a fatal heart attack that mirrored her father Colin’s death four decades earlier.

Colin passed away at the age of 36 after he had a heart attack during a game of five-a-side football. Jill was just four years old.

Jill has now revealed that losing Matt, then aged 43, in the same way forced to confront grieving her father, as she spoke to The Sunday Times about her new book, A Life Reimagined: My Journey of Hope in the Midst of Loss.

Determined not to shut down completely and lead a ‘miserable’ life from therein on in, Jill vowed that this time she would not ‘bury her grief’ and set about learning how to mourn Colin.

Jill Halfpenny’s Partner’s Death Helps Her Grieve Her Father

Jill Halfpenny told The Sunday Times that the tragic sudden death of her partner Matt Janes finally helped her grieve her late father

The former EastEnders actress, 48, felt 'cursed' when she lost Matt in 2017 to a fatal heart attack that mirrored her father Colin's death four decades earlier (Jill and Matt pictured in 2016)

The former EastEnders actress, 48, felt ‘cursed’ when she lost Matt in 2017 to a fatal heart attack that mirrored her father Colin’s death four decades earlier (Jill and Matt pictured in 2016)

Jill recalled the day Matt died, how she was woken up by him as he headed to a spin class. 

The pair were trying for a baby and shared a final loving glance as Jill shuffled to the bathroom to pee on an ovulation stick.

The actress went back to sleep before she was woken up to bangs on her front door and turned to see she had 17 missed calls. 

She ran to Matt’s gym in Crouch End and found him lying on the ground. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. 

The first person Jill called was her mother, who knew the scenario all too well. 

‘I was ringing her with the news about Matt but I was still thinking about her, that she knows exactly how this feels,’ Jill said. 

‘And I could hear it in her voice, I could hear that she knew I was about to go on that same journey.’

The policy in Jill’s family following her father’s death was not to mention him. All that remained of his presence was a picture of him on her mother’s bedside table.

Jill has now revealed that losing Matt, then aged 43, in the same way forced to confront grieving her father, as she spoke to The Sunday Times about her new book, A Life Reimagined: My Journey of Hope in the Midst of Loss (Picturd in 2016)

Jill has now revealed that losing Matt, then aged 43, in the same way forced to confront grieving her father, as she spoke to The Sunday Times about her new book, A Life Reimagined: My Journey of Hope in the Midst of Loss (Picturd in 2016)

Determined not to shut down completely and lead a 'miserable' life from therein on in, Jill vowed that this time she would not 'bury her grief' and set about learning how to mourn Colin (Pictured in 2019)

Determined not to shut down completely and lead a ‘miserable’ life from therein on in, Jill vowed that this time she would not ‘bury her grief’ and set about learning how to mourn Colin (Pictured in 2019)

Jill said she didn’t blame her mother, as she knew this was an attempt to protect her and her siblings. 

In March, Jill said the grief she suffered after Matt’s death made her a ‘better person’, revealing she had found love again seven years later.

‘There was a sense of feeling cursed when Matt died after what happened to my dad. Like, how can that happen twice?’ she told Prima magazine.

‘That drove me to therapy to investigate those feelings because I thought, “I’m not going to live alongside that narrative”.’

The West End veteran spoke of her ‘unprocessed grief’ growing up following her father’s death that ‘manifested itself’ in ‘anger’ and ‘shame.’

‘I was in my 20s when I realised a lot of my behaviour was down to this unprocessed grief. I got divorced, I stopped drinking alcohol and then it all seemed so clear – the jigsaw pieces fit,’ she said.

But learning to cope with grief all over again in her 40s has made her a ‘better person’ as she now knows how to be kinder to herself.

‘Grief has made me a better person. Processing the grief has softened me and I’ve become less judgemental about myself. I am my own worst critic, but I have got better,’ she said.

Jill recalled the day Matt died, how she was woken up by him as he headed to a spin class (Pictured in 2016)

Jill recalled the day Matt died, how she was woken up by him as he headed to a spin class (Pictured in 2016)

She has written her memoir on learning to deal with profound grief, as she thinks it should be ‘talked about’ despite it being ‘upsetting.’

She said: ‘There’s this notion that grief shouldn’t be talked about because it will be upsetting. But I need to talk about it; I want Matt in the room with me. I want to keep him alive in my mind.’

Jill was previously married to actor Craig Conway from 2007-2010 and they are parents to 16-year-old son Henry.

She found love again with boyfriend Ian, who has been her ‘cheerleader’ as she processes her grief.

‘It sounds so cheesy, but I think Ian and I met at the perfect time,’ she said.

‘After Matt died, I didn’t know if I’d ever meet anyone again, but Ian is my cheerleader – I know I’ve met somebody who I love and who loves me.’

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