The Voice

EXCLUSIVE: The Voice star reveals his grief over the tragic loss he shares with coach Guy Sebastian

“It really hurt me in a way that I can’t really explain. I just felt broken.”

By Erin Doyle
It's never easy to lose a loved one, particularly when that person's time is cut short well before their time.
This devastation is something The Voice contestant Matt Gresham learnt firsthand when his best friend Luke Liang took his own life in August 2018, aged just 28.
Following the tragic loss, the singer struggled with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and depression and this week during the Blind Auditions, returned to stage as he attempts to rebuild his life in the wake of his mental health battles.
Now Matt has delved deeper into this dark period of his life, reflects on his friendship with Luke and reveals the coping strategies which helped him get back on his feet.
Matt (left) pictured with his late friend Luke, who sadly died by suicide. Image: Instagram
Matt explains the loss of fellow musician Luke – whose death inspired Guy Sebastian's song Choir – became a catalyst for his depression and PTSD.
"We were together pretty much every day for about two years on the road and then when I found out he took his life, I didn't take it really good," Matt says.
"It felt like… it really hurt me in a way that I can't really explain. I just felt broken. I felt really nervous all of a sudden."
Matt was diagnosed with PTSD and among other things, was plagued with constant nightmares and admits simple tasks like going outside or catching planes became really difficult for him.
"It was tough. I didn't really know much about PTSD before I had it. I thought it was something that you acquire from war or things like that," he adds.
Given the amount of time Luke and Matt had been spending together before he passed, the pain from the loss was even more palpable.
"I think when you spend so much time with someone, it's a different friendship. You can have your buddies and that but if you're with them every single day for such a long time and they're gone, you're like, 'Woah.'" Matt says.
"We were like brothers, you know? It was hard. It took me nine months to get over the first stage, I'll probably never get over it but just to live a normal life."
Guy Sebastian (right) pictured playing with Luke. The pair were also friends. Image: Instagram
Matt during his Blind Audition on The Voice this week. Image: Channel Nine
Reflecting on their friendship, Matt laughs as he remembers the antics they got up to while touring together.
"One of my favourite memories is every time we'd get ready for a gig is he'd try and put me off," Matt says, explaining the rituals helped him stay focused during performances and not get distracted by the crowd.
"He would be backstage and he'd be doing Happy Gilmore quotes, calling me names and saying "they hate you, they hate you" while I was trying to sing something like Hallelujah. I would be trying to remain in character as long as I could. And it worked! It was hilarious."
WATCH BELOW: The Voice contestant Matt Gresham speaks about the death of his friend Luke Liang. Story continues after video.
Now that The Voice competitor is finding his way back onto his feet, he admits he's turned to a number of coping methods.
Sharing advice to those who may be suffering similar mental health battles, Matt revealed what has helped him along the way.
"Have someone you really trust and just talk about these thoughts you're having. Try not to be too attached to your thoughts. Let them kind of flow through.
"Like I would get these impulses of random stuff that flows through, just acknowledge that it's just a thought and don't get attached to it. I think that really helped me."
He adds that following a healthier diet, including eating more vegetables, is also a good way to improve mental health as is getting regular exercise.
"I do cold water therapy everyday. So I swim all year round just in board shorts. It's freezing cold but it really helps."
The Voice continues on Tuesday night at 7.30pm on Channel Nine.
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