TLC's Whitney Way Thore Reveals the Hardest Part of Grieving Mom Babs' Death

"For Real: The Story of Reality TV" Premieres Mar. 25 on E!

Whitney Way Thore absolutely could have taken a big fat break from reality TV. 

When her mom Barbara "Babs" Thore died last December, "We actually were not in production," Whitney revealed in an exclusive interview with E! News, referencing her long-running TLC series My Big Fat Fabulous Life. "My executive producer reached out and very sensitively asked, you know, would you like us to film?"

Posing the question to her father Glenn Thore, "I really wasn't sure how he was going to feel and he immediately said yes," Whitney recalled. "The way he explains it is that my mother was loved very publicly, and he wants her to be able to be mourned publicly. He likens her to Princess Diana and the Queen of England."

And in the nine months since Babs' death, following a prolonged battle with cerebral amyloid angiopathy, a condition that causes strokes and can lead to dementia, Whitney has been reminded just how much her mom was the people's matriarch. 

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"I know how much she affects people," Whitney said of Babs, loved equally for her devotion to family and her quick wit. "But to hear it was so wonderful for soothing our hearts a little bit. And to know how she was able to mother people through a television screen, literally all over the world."

Reflecting on the time immediately after Babs' passing, Whitney continued, "The amount of people who said, 'I didn't have a mom, and she was like, my mom,' or, 'My mom's just like her, and we love to watch her.' It's a gift she gave the world. You always want your loved ones to be remembered and to know that my mom is going to live on in so many people's hearts and minds and in their inside jokes, it is such a gift. I'm so glad I was able to share my mom with the world."


Now she's eager to give viewers a fresh look at her dad when the series makes its return Sept. 5. 

"He's totally rebranded," she revealed. "He's not Glenn Thore anymore. He's GT. That's his new persona. So you're gonna see a side to Glenn Thore that you've never seen."

Whitney certainly got a new perspective as she watched her dad mourn his wife of 45 years. คำพูดจาก ทดลองเล่นสล็อต pg

"For the first time in my life, it's something that he can't fix," the 39-year-old shared of losing her mom. "I'm a daddy's girl. And my dad has always been able to fix everything. He's always been the strong one. And my brother and I really had to be that for him. You just want to love and protect your parents, and you don't ever want them to feel pain. So that's certainly been the most difficult part."

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Which is why she and brother Hunter Thore pushed him to enter his new GT era—tasking him with completing a bucket list that saw them trying everything from indoor skydiving to traversing a glacier. 

"It's nice to have something to focus on and a project to put your energy into," Whitney said of working their way through grief on luge tracks and frozen mountains. "And definitely my brother and I realized, we have got to help Dad, because I've never seen an ounce of vulnerability from him ever in my life. So then to see him at his most vulnerable, it was really difficult."

And while this season saw Whitney meet the half-sister she never knew her dad had fathered before his marriage, that did not top her list of the year's most shocking events. 

"He got a tattoo!" she marveled. "He has literally threatened to disown me all, like, 18 times I've gotten a tattoo. And not in a funny way, in a real way. So the fact that he even went to the tattoo shop and then got a tattoo, I mean, any other scenario in the world would be more likely than that. You could tell me anything and I'd be like, 'Yeah, that'll happen before Glenn Thore would get a tattoo.' So it really shifted my worldview."

Whitney Way Thore/Instagram

Of course, that vantage point was also busted wide open when she connected to Glenn's long-lost daughter and her family. 

Learning about them "was obviously a huge shock," she allowed. "And then I remember before I met them, I was like, 'Well, it's okay. If I don't like them. I lived my whole life without them.' But that's not been the case. They're wonderful. They're fabulous."

Set to attend her niece's bachelorette party, "I'm an aunt now," she continued. "It's been wild. And it's also been a big gift. Because, especially when Mom died, we had Christmas right after that. And it was just me, Dad and Hunter. And I kind of felt like once Dad is gone, I'm not married, is it just me and Hunter for the rest of my life? And now it's like, no, I have all this other family. And they actually feel like family, even though we've really just met."

Courtesy of TLC

Still, she intends for her dad to be claiming his spot next to the Christmas tree for many years to come—even if that means encasing him in bubble wrap. 

Hit by a teenage driver on Aug. 21, "He got up the very next day," she marveled of the wreck that landed Glenn in the hospital. But she's admittedly still shaken up. "It's just terrifying to think that a moment of you not paying attention can take away someone's life. And it's like, 'This is my dad.'"

Fortunately, they're both still standing, having checked off a series of gut-wrenching milestones in their first year without Babs. 

"We've already been through Christmas, my dad's birthday, Valentine's Day, my mom's birthday, their anniversary," Whitney said, ticking off the gauntlet of memories and melancholy. "So we've pretty much hit everything until December 7, 2023. And that'll be the anniversary of her death."

She knows it will be yet another gut punch, acknowledging, "That day will be really difficult." But as she sees it, "We made it through everything else."

My Big Fat Fabulous Life premieres on Tuesday, September 5th at 9pm ET/PT on TLC.

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