Pio Terei and family come to terms with son's death

TV personality Pio Terei and his wife Deb are different people now after losing their youngest son Teina to leukemia three years ago. 

But they are learning to live with the pain.

"There are things that happened that just destroy ya," says Pio. "You gotta learn fast how to manage the trigger moments and those minefields are everywhere with grief." 

The last three years have been so painful, Pio and Deb haven't been able to acknowledge Teina's birthdays - but this year is different, with Teina's mates deciding to cycle from Auckland to Mitimiti to be by his side on his 21st birthday.

Deb says if it weren't for this gesture by Teina's friends, they probably wouldn't have done anything. 

"Birthdays are incredibly hard for us, so it's easier just for the day to come and go. They just took it out of our hands by going no we're going to do the ride."

Pio and Teina with their family.
Pio, Deb and Teina with their family. Photo credit: The Hui

The five cyclists will travel the 300km to Mitimiti over two days, interchanging as they go. Pio thinks this could help them with their grief.

"I actually think that's going to be another stage of healing for us to actually go, yeah our boy is a star up there. So it's timely - I think it's going to be really valuable for us."

Deb says it's another way to keep the memory of her boy alive.

"It's difficult to find the most perfect words to explain how moved we are. Their total commitment to Teina has been mind-blowing, and it really comforts my heart that they want to keep him present. 

"One of my fears was that people would forget him because he's no longer here, we remember people when we see them, but they've not allowed that."

It wasn't the 21st that Pio and Deb had imagined for their son, but it's been an invaluable part of their healing journey.

The Hui