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Jamie Dornan’s brutal honesty about his experience of grieving a parent is a must-listen

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Jamie Dornan just shared the ways he deals with grief following the deaths of his mother and school friends when he was only 16 years old.

Podcast conversations often feel like a safe space for sensitive topics that you perhaps don’t want to talk about out loud. Just listening to intimate and honest conversations between people going through the same issue as you can be reassuring and almost therapeutic. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with grief.

Take, for instance, Martin Lewis recalling how the death of his mother impacted his childhood. And Stylist’s commercial editorial director Susan Riley speaking on the Nobody Told Me… podcast about what it’s like to be an adult orphan. Laura Whitmore also opened up about her raw reaction to Caroline Flack’s death earlier this year on Kate Thornton’s White Wine Question Time podcast.

Now, actor Jamie Dornan has just talked about how he continues to grieve for his mother and friends.

Speaking on the How To Fail with Elizabeth Day podcast, Dornan was asked how he coped with grief when his four school friends died in a car crash just 13 months after his mother died of cancer when he was 16 years old.

“I had counselling – I’m very open in admitting that…” Dornan replies. “You sort of don’t have a clue what’s going on in the world anyway when you’re 16 or 17, and it’s a lot of change happening at that time in your life and a lot of very big decisions being made about your future at that age. 

He adds: “It was so bleak clearly and affects you everyday.”

Dornan continues to explain how he still lives with this grief in adulthood, saying: “In fact I’ve had a very tearful week, honestly, particularly about my mum. 

“I’m writing a script at the moment and we’ve just finished the first draft. And now I’m going through it with a friend of mine. Our two main protagonists in the movie are kids who lost their parents when they were teenagers. And so much of it I haven’t even been accepting of: the fact that that happened to me.

“[It’s] so weird I’m writing about these kids talking each other through what this grief must be like and I’ve been blanking it. I guess it’s some sort of defence mechanism, probably. But then I feel sort of bereft at the end of the day and my writing partner will see it and be like ‘You’ve got to stop’ and I’ll be like ‘Yeah OK’ then go and cry for an hour.”

Asked to describe his mum, Dornan gets very emotional, replying: “I mean, she was incredible. A very beautiful, truly beautiful, arrestingly beautiful looking woman. An amazing smile. Very quick-witted. Incredibly glamorous. My mum was from a farm in Portadown but you wouldn’t know it talking to her…

He is then incredibly vulnerable and brutally honest, adding the reflection: “It’s a very odd thing, and not a very nice thing to admit, that there are many aspects of my mum that I don’t remember. Truly I just don’t have a very strong recollection and I use my sisters a lot and my dad to try to build on the memories I have on mum. Because they’re fleeting for me, to be honest. 

He finishes: “I love it when something does come into my mind, I’ll get this little nugget that comes into my mind of something that I had forgotten. But my sister will mention something to me and I love that and try to harness that as best I can.”

You can listen to the full Jamie Dornan interview on How To Fail With Elizabeth Day.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…