LONDON — Broadcaster Robert Peston says Britain treats grief like a “dirty secret” and that we do not talk about the impact of death enough.
The ITV political editor, whose wife Siân Busby died in September 2012 of lung cancer aged 51, said he was “traumatized for years” afterwards.
Speaking on a new episode of Westminster Insider, the broadcaster discussed the effect the loss of his wife had on him, and described the way Brits process death as “unhealthy.”
Opening up about the impact of Busby’s death, he said: “Grief is … it’s a sort of dirty secret. Nobody wants to talk about it because nobody wants to talk about death either.
“We can’t run away from these things, they’re always there, but we try to run away from them. It’s definitely not healthy.”
He added: “The further away I am from it, the more clearly I can see how traumatized I was for years.”
A familiar face around Westminster as the BBC’s economics editor before joining ITV as political editor in 2016, Peston’s unique delivery and mangled turn of phrase made him a household name. He turned his hand to writing novels two years ago and his new book, Crash, is the second in a series.
Telling the story of a scoop-obsessed journalist, who is trying to solve the mystery of the sudden death of a close friend, the novel’s protagonist Gil Peck has some similarities with the political editor, but Peston insists they only share only “some traits.”
Punk with Balls
As well as his writing pursuits, Peston surprised many in Westminster when he announced recently that he had formed a punk band with former shadow chancellor Ed Balls, and two friends. He’s also launched an economics podcast, and has another book out soon.
He acknowledged that he uses work as a “displacement” to try to escape from his grief, but says he has promised his family that he will not take on any new projects or write any more books for “quite some time.”
Elsewhere on the podcast, he talked about being aware of phone hacking going on earlier in his career. He said he had never done it and that he always thought it was “completely wrong.” But added there is a justification for crossing an ethical line if you are trying to find out something in the public interest.