'If Could Hold Her Just Once Again': Mom of Jim Carrey's Girlfriend, Cathriona White, Breaks Silence About Daughter's Suicide
Credit: Coleman-Rayner

The mother of Jim Carrey‘s late girlfriend, Cathriona White, says she has been the victim of vicious personal attacks since her daughter’s death, telling PEOPLE in an exclusive interview that she is “devastated” over negative reports about their relationship and stressed that “calling her a failure is never something I would ever have done.”

Speaking publicly for the first time since White was found dead of an apparent suicide six weeks ago, Brigid Sweetman remembers a daughter whom she says “was loved, she was so loved and I know she knew that” – even as Sweetman has faced rumors blaming her for the tragedy.

“There’s a story that has been published saying that I sent Cathriona an email on her birthday nine days before she died, calling her a failure,” she says. “I don’t know who would say such lies, but this is something that never, ever happened. I am devastated people would say this.”

White, who was 30 and had been dating Carrey on and off since 2012, was found dead at her Los Angeles home on Sept. 28. Prescription pill bottles and several suicide notes – including one addressed to Carrey – were discovered near her body. The official cause of death has yet to be ruled, pending results of a toxicology report.

Sweetman says her home in the south of England has since been targeted by detractors and vandals, and the words “Die b—-” have been daubed on a wall in white paint. Several notes have also been pinned to her door, and a police investigation is now underway, she says.

Sweetman, 55, tells PEOPLE the negative attention has made her grief “one hundred times worse,” compelling her to finally speak out publicly about “unbelievably cruel” rumors that she contributed to White’s apparent suicide.

“It has made my grief 100 times worse, if that could be possible. And that’s why I am putting the record straight here,” she says. “I feel I have to speak out now because I am in fear in my own house. Basically, the way it is here now, I am scared to go out of the door. I would love to move out of this house but I can’t afford it.”

“But,” she adds, “I have to stand up for myself and say the abuse I’m getting is just not right.”

Sweetman maintains that she looks back with pride on her daughter, whom she remained supportive of.

“I absolutely adored Cathriona, like I adore all my three children. They are my life and I’m so proud of all of them,” she says. “From the moment she was born, I cherished her. Calling her a failure is never something I would ever have done. It’s an awful thing to say to anyone, let alone your own child.”

Sweetman admits that although she and White didn’t see eye to eye at times, she was optimistic they would get through it.

“Yes, we had had an argument. But what family doesn’t argue at some time?” she reveals. “It was over nothing and it would have been resolved. It’s just hard when your daughter is on the other side of the Atlantic, you can’t put your arms around her.”

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Still, Sweetman explains, “she was loved, she was so loved and I know she knew that.”

Sweetman, who was divorced from White’s father and had moved to the U.K., where she remarried, says her daughter’s death came as a massive shock.

“When I heard she died like that, I couldn’t believe it,” Sweetman explains. “Cathriona was born just 2 lb., 2 oz., and she had to fight so hard to live and I had to fight so hard to keep her alive. A baby that size takes a lot of loving to pull through. But she did, and from then on, she fought for everything.”

“She was tiny and couldn’t dance for buttons but still insisted on doing classes until she became good at it,” Sweetman says. “The same with football, the size of her on the pitch, but she kept at it.”

She adds that the makeup artist, who was photographed kissing Carrey, 53, in public days before she died, had told her she was loving life in the U.S.

“When she was home for her sister’s wedding last summer, I asked her, ‘Do you ever think you would move home?’ And she said, ‘No,’ that she loved L.A. She said she loved her work and the weather there, that it was summer all year round,” recalls Sweetman, who met Carrey at her daughter’s funeral and describes him as “a very nice man.”

Two days after hundreds of people, including Carrey, attended the funeral, which was held in White’s Irish hometown of Tipperary, Sweetman – who has struggled with her health after suffering two strokes – paid a lone visit to the graveyard where White has been laid to rest.

Walking with the aid of two crutches and supported by her second husband, Brian, she cried as she stood at her daughter’s grave. There, before leaving, she left a large bouquet of sunflowers, along with a handwritten note at the foot of the grave.

“That note was very personal, private,” she says. “But basically, it said if I could hold her just once again, I would never let her go.”