The Love Island host took her own life at her north-east London home on February 15 aged 40 – weeks before the nation was plunged into the first COVID-19 lockdown.
And in an upcoming interview on Louis Strong’s Headstrong podcast, Natalie, 43, admitted: ‘There was a point in the first lockdown that I really, really struggled.
Struggles: Caroline Flack’s close friend Natalie Pinkham, left, has revealed that she constantly dreamed about the star in the weeks following her tragic death
‘With Caroline, I kept dreaming about her, I kept waking up sweating, panicking, and I know lots of people will feel the same.’
In the end, it was talking to another friend also mourning Caroline’s passing that helped see her through her darkest days.
The Sky Sports F1 presenter said: ‘There’s just no shame in talking about that and reaching out to someone else who might be able to [help].
‘I know that talking to another friend of ours, she went, “Oh my god, I’m going through exactly the same thing.” And we were able to take some comfort from each other in that.’
Tragedy: Caroline took her own life at her north-east London home on February 15, aged 40
Addressing how she’s processing the Love Island host’s death as the first anniversary of her suicide looms, Natalie said: ‘I don’t think I’ll ever be OK about it. I think that it was a horrible shock.’
Speaking of the ‘Be Kind’ philosophy that was largely embraced on social media in the wake of the tragedy, Natalie continued: ‘I’m praying that some good will come of it… A bit like the momentum with BLM, I hope it’s not a hashtag that fades.
‘I think we all just do need to be kinder to each other – the focus on that has been sharpened so much through COVID
‘It was a tragedy that absolutely didn’t need to happen. No tragedy should ever happen, but it was a sequence of awful events that one of them didn’t need to happen, let alone 10 of them.’
Natalie also opened up about a podcast she put together to mark Caroline’s November 9 birthday – choosing to focus on the fun aspects of the star’s life as close friends shared their fondest memories.
Best friends: Natalie and Caroline were long-time friends, they are pictured with Sarah-Jane Mee and Zoe Hardman in 2015
‘It was kind of like a therapy in a way, and listening to the stories brought a lot of comfort for all of us, and actually recording the stories brought some comfort,’ she said.
‘I wanted to do something for her birthday. I didn’t want to exploit her in any way. So we took the ads out of the podcast, we replaced them with messages from the Samaritans ad we just wanted to do something that was positive.
‘I had such a knot in my stomach. I didn’t sleep a wink the night before, because I just though, “Oh god, I hope this is taken in the right way.”
‘But ultimately, all that I really cared about were her family, and I spoke to her mum and sister every step of the way to make sure that they were comfortable with it.
‘And the feedback was absolutely incredible. I couldn’t believe how many people, friends and strangers, who contacted me to say how much the positive messaging had helped them.
‘I think everybody is struggling a bit at the moment and I think it was about time that we just told some funny stories and celebrated the incredible person that she was.’
Back in May, Natalie shared an Instagram tribute to the late TV personality, three months after her death.
Natalie posted a beautiful selfie of the pair as she admitted she had experienced a ‘horrible whack of grief tonight’.
She wrote: ‘I think partly because I haven’t seen any of my mates for ages, and it hit me that even when lockdown is lifted, I will never see Flacky again…
‘And partly because I was tucking the kids in to bed and I felt overwhelmed with sadness for Caroline’s mum, that she’s lost her little girl.
Heartwarming tribute: Sky Sports F1 presenter Natalie also opened up about a podcast she put together to mark Caroline’s November 9 birthday. Pictured in 2019
‘Suicide is savage. If you are struggling, please reach out…. you are never alone.’
In the photo Caroline smiles as she poses with Natalie at what appeared to be a festival.
Caroline tragically took her own life at her home in Stoke Newington, a day after learning the CPS would be pursuing a case of assault against her following a row with boyfriend Lewis Burton at her home in December.
Caroline’s funeral took place on March 10 at Greenacres at Colney, near Norwich, a ceremonial park set in a 16-acre forest.
The star’s mother Christine revealed details of the private funeral held for the star earlier this year.
Her mother Chris said of the service to The Eastern Daily Press: ‘There were lots of memories, smiles but mostly tears as we all remembered Carrie and the joy she had brought to all of our lives.
‘All the family would like to say thank you so much to all Carrie’s friends who travelled from all over the world to be there that day and who appreciated why we wanted to bring her back home to Norfolk.
‘Friends included all the old pals she had either worked alongside or presented with on Fash FC, I’m A Celebrity, Xtra Factor, Love Island, friends old and new from the world of Strictly, the Bake Off and many many more.’
‘I hope you are at peace now. Til the end my beautiful friend, Caroline x.’
If you have been affected by this story, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org.
Natalie Pinkham’s full interview on Louis Strong’s Headstrong podcast will be released on February 1.
RIP: Caroline’s death came a day after learning the CPS would be pursuing a case of assault against her following a row with boyfriend Lewis Burton at her home the December before