Alan Thicke's first ex-wife, Gloria Loring, opened up about the actor's shocking death and how their sons, Robin and Brennan Thicke, are coping in the aftermath.
As previously reported, the Growing Pains alum suffered a heart attack while playing hockey with his 19-year-old son, Carter, in Burbank, California, on Tuesday. He was transported to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center and died during surgery. He was 69. (The actor had Carter with his second ex-wife, Gina Marie Tolleson.)
"[They're dealing with it] in their own way," Loring, 70, told Entertainment Tonight via phone on Wednesday. "I told them I was ready to come in and be with them if they wanted me there. They said, 'Give us a day; we just need some quiet time.' I said, 'I'm there if you need me.'"
She added: "Everyone has their own way of grieving."
Loring, who was married to the actor from 1970 to 1984, learned of his death from their eldest son, Brennan, 41. "Brennan sent me a text because he was on the way to the hospital. He said, 'Dad's had a heart attack and it's a big deal.' I called and spoke to him briefly and said, 'Tell me what happened,' and he said they'd taken him to the hospital, they were very close, they were taking him into surgery,'" she recalled. "And then a very short time later, Brennan texted me and said, 'He's gone.'"
R&B singer Robin, 39, paid tribute to his dad in an Instagram post on December 14, calling him "the best man" and "best friend" he ever knew.
Loring admits that she's having trouble wrapping her head around the tragedy. "They loved their pops. It's just so sad, as it is for any family who loses a parent. It's just so shocking," she told ET. "He was always there when they needed him. He was very devoted to his family, and he was always so much fun to have in the room anywhere he was — his sense of humor went before him."
The exes remained amicable following their breakup in the ’80s. Loring described the late star as "the centerpiece" of the family and said that she can't imagine life without him. "I loved him with every fiber of my being, for about 14 of the 16 years I was with him. And then things changed and it was time for us to grow in different ways," she said. "I'm so grateful that I had the time I had with him."
Alan is now survived by his widow, Tanya. The couple tied the knot in May 2005 and starred in the reality show Unusually Thicke from 2014 to 2015. This coming weekend, Loring will join Tanya and the rest of the family to remember Alan. "We have a joint birthday party for my son Brennan and myself. So, it will be a celebration of Alan, as well as our lives," she explained. "It'll be a very tender time, for sure."
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