Desert Island Discs: Zoe Ball’s words on coping with grief are an incredibly reassuring listen

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Radio host Zoe Ball joined Lauren Laverne on the Desert Island Discs podcast at the weekend, and shared the relatable way she grieved after the death of her former partner. 

There’s no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a romantic partner, but listening to the experiences of other people who have been through it can offer comfort and understanding. That’s why Zoe Ball’s recent podcast interview about how she grieved for her partner Billy Yates – who died by suicide in 2018 – are such an important listen to anyone who relates.

Speaking to Lauren Laverne on Desert Island Discs, Ball explained the part that music can play while grieving, and how it helps to celebrate the lives of those who have passed.

After picking Frank Wilson’s Do I Love You as one of her discs, Ball told Laverne: “I wanted to play something for Billy. Billy was my partner, we’d been friends for a few years and we got together. He suffered with depression for a huge chunk of his life. And it’s so hard to sit and watch someone you love and care for struggle with mental health.

“Losing him was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my life.

“I think something that’s really important to share, having spoken now to lots of people who work within mental health support networks or people trying to make a difference, is that there is hope. There is help available. There are ways. We’re still learning.”

She then went on to describe depression, saying: “For some people the drugs work, for some people that isn’t the case. But it’s so isolating to be trapped like that, where you doubt everything you’ve ever known. You doubt if your family love you, you doubt that your friends care for you.”

She continued: “I think something else that happens if you lose someone in a situation like this is that I don’t want people to remember him for how he died. I want people to remember him for how he lived his life. He was so full of love. He would help anyone in need. He was always there for all his friends. He brought so much into my life, so much into his family and friends’ lives. 

“And I wanted to play a piece of music that reflected him for who he was. He loved to dance and he loved to laugh. And this track will always remind me of him.”

After selecting another track, Kamasi Washington’s Truth, Ball went on to explain how listening to music has helped with her grief.

“It moved me to tears,” she said. “That’s something else I learned through grieving is how music can play such a role in that. And I’ll take some photographs, and pieces of music, and I can listen to that and help that little process. Sometimes you can make those tears come and think of somebody and take yourself through that little process and I think that’s really good for you. And you come out of the other side of that and you feel a little bit stronger again.”

Listen to Desert Island Discs with Zoe Ball

Grief helplines:

Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland can be found at crusescotland.org.uk, call 0845 600 2227

Samaritans can be contacted 24/7 on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org

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Images: BBC

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, 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…

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