Gerry grief made Melanie's hair fall out
Melanie Verwoerd has revealed she is still reeling with devastation over the loss of Gerry Ryan, some six months after his death.
And the former South African ambassador said that the stress of his passing wreaked a terrible toll on her physically, resulting in her losing as much hair as a chemotherapy patient.
The Unicef boss is slowly coming to terms with the fact that she will never again see the 2fm legend, whose body she found in his Leeson Street flat last April 30, prompting a nationwide outpouring of grief.
"I seemed to be walking around in a daze for the first four months, basically. Now it seems like the shock is wearing off and it's just this unbearable pain, now it's just trying to deal with the reality that I will never see Gerry again," she said.
"I've gone through difficult times in my life, I've lost grandparents and stuff like that but I've never had to deal with something like this and it's really shocked me, not only the event but how incredibly difficult it is to deal with this whole process of mourning.
"I certainly will never look at anybody who has gone through something like this in the same way again."
The mum-of-two has also admitted that the amount of publicity about his sudden death took her by surprise. "I've always had a public profile, from politics and embassy. But of course, nothing could have prepared me for the level of the intensity of the media interest," she told this month's Irish Tatler.
"And you know when you're with someone like Gerry that the interest is there but of course, I was going to be with Gerry for the rest of my life. I thought I still had another 20 to 30 years to deal with that, before something like this would happen." Ms Verwoerd, who dated the dad-of-five for more than a year after his split from wife Morah, continued: "The complete loss of appetite, the weight loss that comes with that, the hair loss...my hair fell out like someone who was having chemo. I haven't slept basically since Gerry died -- so of course I'm exhausted.
"One of the grievance counsellors has told me that they have measured it, what they call 'five minutes of grief', which I think (happens to) everybody who's lost somebody really close to them, where you just get overwhelmed with pain.
"The physical toll that it takes on your body is the same as what a marathon runner feels after one hour of running. And it's very hard in a way to just keep going."
The humanitarian, who made a rare public appearance at the opening of Harry Crosbie's Gibson Hotel this week, was also taught a bitter lesson in the unpredictability of life. "I'm a person, throughout my life, who has kind of taken control of situations. That's what I do -- I fix things. I try to get involved in processes a where you help others," she said.
"But then, in that split second, when I realised Gerry (had) died, it was just as if every bit of illusion you have about control disappears on you."
Ms Verwoerd, who is gearing up to launch Unicef's Euro for Zero campaign on October 24, has been inspired by their relationship to use some of Gerry's words in the campaign posters.