Paul Walker's Mother Cheryl Was Never The Same After His Tragic Death

Paul Walker's untimely death in November 2013 sent quite the shockwave throughout Hollywood, one that reverberates to this day. Best known for portraying Brian O'Conner in the "Fast and Furious" franchise, the 40-year-old movie star died in the passenger seat of his friend's Porsche, with the driver losing control and crashing into a tree. A coroner's report confirmed that no drugs or alcohol were found in either man, and Walker's daughter, Meadow, would file a wrongful death lawsuit against Porsche in 2021.

In addition to the outpouring of love that came from fans instantly and steadily over the years, Walker's "Fast and Furious" costars were among his most vocal mourners. Tyrese Gibson visited Walker's crash site one day after the tragedy, sharing on Instagram a piece of wreckage he saved in memoriam. Franchise star Vin Diesel frequently paid written tribute to Walker on social media, including an Instagram remembrance on what would have been the latter's 50th birthday. With an emotional farewell sequence in Walker's last "Fast" film — 2015's "Furious 7" — the franchise itself honored his legacy. Referencing Brian's whereabouts in each subsequent film, Walker's character lives on in "Fast"'s high-speed cinematic universe.

Real life, however, often charts a more winded path than the one onscreen. While many mourned Walker, few's sorrow compared to that of his mother Cheryl's. Enduring a rare and heartbreaking journey, Cheryl found herself in an unprecedented state of mind after her son's death. 

Paul Walker's mom couldn't see past her pain at first

Following his death, Paul Walker's mom found the prospect of waking up each day more difficult than usual. During a 2017 appearance on "The Dr. Oz Show," Cheryl Walker unraveled this and other pieces of emotional fallout following the actor's November 30, 2013 car crash. Sitting with Paul's younger brother, Caleb, Cheryl recalled, "I, really, honestly, would wish that I didn't have to wake up in the morning. I would never have taken my life but, I really felt that way." Despite the support of her "wonderful family" (which includes Paul's daughter, Meadow, with schoolteacher Rebecca Soteros), Cheryl explained that waking up meant having to "relive it all over again."

A mother of four children (including Paul's other brother Cody and their sister, Ashlie), Cheryl acknowledged that her grief could be isolating at times — given that so few in life experience it. "People think that you should just get over it, but they've never experienced it, so," she reflected on "Dr. Oz" through tears.

As for Paul's dad, Paul Walker III, he told ET in November 2014 that their family was "not looking forward to Thanksgiving" that year. Calling his late son a missing piece of their "close, loving family," Paul Sr. lamented to ET that his sadness will "probably be that way until I'm with him ... It's not getting any better for me."

Paul Walker's brothers bonded with him posthumously

While Paul Walker's parents experienced a uniquely tragic loss upon his death, so did the star's brothers, Caleb and Cody Walker. Luckily, the bros — Paul's juniors respectively by four and 15 years — got to exercise their grief through a creative outlet. At the time of Paul's fatal car crash, the actor had yet to finish filming all of "Furious 7"'s action scenes — leading Caleb and Cody to fill in when production resumed in April 2014. 

Speaking to ET in 2016, Caleb revealed how being Paul's body doubles deepened his and Cody's bond with him. "We had to share Paul with a lot of people, in a weird way," Caleb said. Given that Paul's jet-setter schedule forced him to skip some family get-togethers, Caleb admittedly told ET, "We missed him... He tried. We'd see him on set, we visited a few times." It wasn't until they literally stepped into Paul's shoes on-set, however, that they "got to understand more about Paul, and what he was all about." The brothers also gained new family in Vin Diesel, Paul's "Fast and Furious" co-lead, whom they have dubbed their "godfather."

Paul's parents also eventually found a ritual for healing. In 2018, they revealed their newfound family tradition of gathering at Huntington Beach — one of Paul's favorite surfing spots — annually on his birthday. Tossing sun­flowers into the Pacific, they would then recant a favorite memory of their late loved one.