Like many of us this year, Shirley Ballas is going all out with the Christmas decorations, but as she revealed to Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time, this is the first time she’s actually putting up the decorations in 18 years.
The Strictly Come Dancing judge said she’s going full-on this year, partly thanks to COVID-restrictions and also partly due to her boyfriend, Danny Taylor.
“I will decorate the house this year,” she revealed.
“When I met Danny, we had the little tree due to his encouragement and a few baubles, but this year it will be a full-on do, because we're going to be in lockdown.
“Neither of us can do panto because it's been cancelled.”
The reason behind the judge’s lack of Christmas decorations prior to this year is because she sadly lost her brother in December 2003. At 44, he took his life after battling depression for years.
Listen: Shirley Ballas reveals how meeting boyfriend Danny has helped her accept herself more
The pain, she says, is something that never goes away – but that she will always keep his memory alive for her mother and his daughter’s benefit.
“Unless you’ve had a loss of somebody to suicide, no one will ever understand,” she told Thornton.
“There are so many different things that he’s [her brother] missed out on, but you know, I have him in an urn in my house and my mum has a beautiful plaque in her garden with ‘Forever Young’.
“We will remember him for the protector of our family, because he was definitely about my mother and myself. He was a very unselfish person where we were concerned, and I miss him every single day.”
The former British Open to the World Champion says that December can be “really dark” but being in therapy has taught her that sometimes it’s OK to feel down.
“I just learned from the counsellor actually, I can be not having such a good day... But what he says is I have the on button. If I've got to do something or an interview or go on the TV, I have this ability to switch on.
“The trouble with me is I don't know when to switch it off. I'm learning that it's actually okay to be not okay. It's actually okay to be miserable. It's actually okay to be sad. It's actually okay to be furious.”
While Christmas is an especially poignant time for Ballas and her family, the head judge says that times like this can be really difficult for anyone who’s lost a loved one. She believes it’s really important to remember them at this time of year.
“It’s very difficult for anybody who’s lost a loved one when it comes to holidays and Christmas, but talking about them can ease it a little,” she advises.
She continued: “Talk about the happy times, have a toast, light a candle, sit down with your friends, have an hour where it’s dedicated to the loved one that’s not there and remember all the memories. It keeps them close.”
Ballas, who revealed she feels “riddled with guilt” over her brother’s death, says therapy and her new relationship is helping her heal - and for once she’s really looking forward to the festive season.
“It’s going to be beautiful – and I’m very excited about that,” she exclaimed.
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