ITV I’m A Celebrity’s Grace Dent’s tragic family losses she faced before show

Although Grace Dent ’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here journey may have been cut short this year, after the star was forced to withdraw on medical grounds – Grace still has everything to celebrate as she overcame a series of family tragedies in order to take on the daring jungle challenge in the first place.

The 50 year old food critic candidly confessed she had suffered a number of hardships in life prior to taking part in the show, and even attributed those personal misfortunes to helping her find the resilience to brave such a daunting challenge.

Prior to heading out to the Australian jungle, Grace told viewers: ”I have been through a really difficult time over the last four or five years. My dad had dementia, I cared for him and I lost him. Mum had cancer and I lost her. I think that this has made me very strong and resilient. "

She then added: “This is going to be a big challenge and now I am older, life is for living, and it’s one of the reasons why I said yes.”

Here, we take a closer look at the obstacles Grace overcame in order to brave the I’m a Celeb jungle, including some of her most raw and vulnerable moments.

Father’s Dementia Battle

One of the biggest hardships in Grace’s life was the loss of both her parents, with her father George, having past away post recently, following a hard fought battle with Dementia.

Announcing the news shortly before Christmas 2022 in a heartbreaking social media post, Grace wrote: “Well Dad. You pick your moments. In fairness you hated Christmas. All those folk ´popping in' when you wanted to watch Porridge Christmas Special with a glass of Lidl vin de table and your fruit and nut.

She then continued: “By now you're in heaven with mam, teletext on, finding a 10 days all inclusive or shelling sprouts to Jona Lewie with a turkey too big for the oven.

Before adding: ”Thank you for mending my rollers skates and teaching me the value of a quid. I will always, at some level, be under your armpit in 1978, watching Kenny Everett. #ynwa.”

Throughout his illness, Grace had always been open about his battle with the disease, as she candidly admitted how hard it had been to care for him during an interview with The Guardian prior to his death.

She said: "There is so much I want to say to Dad, but I can't bring myself to… Dementia is really awkward, not just painful and frightening, embarrassing, I don't like to be left alone with Dad. But sometimes I can see terror in his eyes…

"Sometimes, as Dad talks nowadays, midway through a nonsensical sentence his brain catches up, and right then, he understands the total ridiculousness of what he is saying, and pure shame passes across his face."

Mum’s heartbreaking cancer death

One year prior to sadly losing her father, Grace also faced the painful loss of her mum, who passed away in February 2021 after losing her fight with cancer.

Discussing the loss on White Wine Question Time, Grace told show host Kate Thornton about how she was coping in the aftermath of her mother’s sad passing.

"We were all together as a family up to the point where she died. And I just think that, if I am to look back on my life, I'm never going to regret that.

"And I feel like I'm very different since it. In the book, I talk a lot about going back and being with my dad, when he first started to show very big signs of Alzheimer's, and being there.

"But this part of my life, which wasn't in the book at all, going back and being with my brothers and being with my sister-in-law, and just kind of that coming together. And having my mum finally going. She's left a massive hole.”

Despite the tragic loss however, one silver lining that Grace found was how much closer it brought her to her siblings, and allowed her to “reinvent” some old family traditions that gave her back some control.

Relationship with food

Working as a food critic, it’s safe to say that food is almost always on Grace’s mind, but it’s this vocation that means the star has often been consciously careful of just how much she eats and when.

She previously told the Guardian: "I have a job which often requires me to eat more than a human being probably should; 2,000 calories in one meal is quite normal – lots of butter, sugar, fat, cream – all the things that make things taste delicious.”

Food even helped her through the sad loss of her mother, when she admitted that comfort food had become her only connection to her mother in the final days, as it not only “hit the spot” but also “settled like an extra layer of padding” to help her through the emotionally taxing experience.

Interestingly, food also plays a crucial part in Grace’s health, as she told WalesOnline prior to entering the jungle that her health was directly impacted by her weight.

She said: "I don't think I suit skinny. I look ill right away. I'm quite a curvy, busty type of person. I have to be very careful about what I eat because I put on weight really easily. My family are just those types of people who come from an entire background of women who naturally fit about a size 16-18. Every woman in my family looked like that.'

"But I know that when I get bigger, I then stop exercising. Once I stop exercising, I start feeling sadder. And then my health goes and I haven't got enough energy. So, I've always been on a health kick since I was nine years old, like almost all women. I have to be very conscious of what I'm eating."

It was food in particular that instilled her with the most fear prior to entering the jungle, as she wasn’t sure how she would fare on the minimal rations.

I'm a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! continues every night at 9pm on ITV and ITVX

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