Waterloo Road actress Holly Matthews has opened up about her first Christmas without husband Ross, who passed away in July.
The soap star was speaking about grief on Lorraine this morning, ahead of her first Christmas with her two daughters since Ross died five months ago, aged just 32 after a three-year battle with a rare brain tumour.
‘Christmas is so much about family and about being around together, I think that’s what makes it so much harder,’ the mum-of-two said.
‘Everything’s about family traditions and family being together, and when someone in the family is missing it just heightens that feeling.’
‘I know that I have to find a way to help my girls get through this. The children make it easier because they’re just thinking Christmas and Santa, and they live in the now,’ she said.
‘They’re not thinking about the fact that Ross isn’t there, certainly not at this stage, so it makes it easier on us – it lets us off the hook because we’ve got something to focus on there.’
And while she’s focusing on her two children – six-year-old Brooke and four-year-old Texas – the mum confessed she’s just ‘winging’ it since she lost her husband.
‘Even coming on here to talk about grief at Christmas I’m going “I don’t know what I’m doing”, I’m just winging it.
‘Don’t get me wrong, we have a nice life, the girls are excited and there will be lots of good things but I think there will be poignant moments throughout the day when we go “Ross isn’t here”.’
‘The kids are good though, and that’s the main thing for me.’
Despite saying Christmas will be hard on them as a family, Holly also said New Year’s will be tougher for her, as she always spent it with Ross.
‘For me personally, I think the hardest bit will be New Year’s Eve, because we never did anything on New Year’s Eve it was just me and Ross.
‘In that time you’re with the person that you love, you’re going into the future and the new year and for me that will be the hardest time,’ she told Lorraine.
The star’s moving account on grief stroke a chord with many viewers, who took to social media to praise her for opening up.
One said: ‘@reallorraine @hollymatthews amazing on Lorraine today. A great Mum and role model for your girls. Sending love to the young widows charity’
Others also opened up about their own experiences: ‘I’m dreading Christmas morning my Husband died in March our youngest 2 are 10 and 12. I don’t know how I’m going to cope. There will be lots of tears while trying to make it happy for the kids’.
It’s not the first time Holly has spoken about her loss, having revealed in September that she was ‘terrified’ to tell her two daughters that their dad was gone.
‘I was terrified to tell them, I felt sick. Even as I started to say it my six-year-old said: “just say it” because she knew,’ she said at the time.