Navigating Grief: Danny Painter's Journey Through the Holiday Season
Danny and Phillip Painter on their Wedding Day | Photo Cred: Supplied

Danny Painter is bravely sharing her poignant journey through grief, offering heartfelt advice for navigating the holiday season, after losing her husband.


Johannesburg, South Africa (13 December 2023) – After the loss of her husband of 17 years, Jacaranda FM radio host and television personality, Danny Painter is facing the holidays with a different mindset.

Philip Painter, Danny’s beloved husband, died from a heart attack on the 19th of September 2023, at home with Danny. In the days and weeks following her devastating loss, the Brakpan-based media personality took some time off work and has tried to rebuild her life and find her ‘new normal’. She has been vulnerable and authentic about her journey on social media and has created a community for those grieving in a graceful and supportive way.

Grieving during the festive holidays can amplify the sense of loss, as the world around seems to celebrate joy and togetherness. Navigating through the season while grieving can be emotionally challenging, as traditions and gatherings may serve as stark reminders of those who are no longer present. It’s crucial during this time to allow oneself the space for grief, acknowledging and honouring the pain that accompanies loss.

As the festive season sets in, Danny unpacks how a young widow, or anyone dealing with grief, can navigate their first holiday season alone.

Honestly speaking, how have the last two months been for you?

It’s almost three and I don’t know how I got here! I have no idea how it’s been so long and yet, so short. I have no idea where I’ve been during these last few weeks since he left. Some days have been good, others I haven’t gotten out of bed. But I’m okay! I’ve moved out of my house, I’m in the middle of renovating my new place and the dogs and I are still alive, so that’s good. Right? I think I’m okay! I have the most incredible support and love from so many different people, I am truly blessed!

What lessons have you learned in this time?

So many. Oh my gosh, so many! The biggest one is to feel. No matter how scary or deep it feels, you need to FEEL it. The only way out is through and if that’s crying hysterically or throwing a coffee mug, feel it! The second one I think is one that most people grieving learn – life is exceptionally short. We are all on borrowed time and you need to LIVE. On the days you can get out of bed – go and live. The last one is to lean into your practices, whether that’s prayer, meditation, gym, self-care is vitally important, you need to give yourself grace. Time and take care of you.

What was Christmas like when Phil was here?

It was the best! Phil was an incredibly generous human and over and above the festivities he would shower me and the dogs with gifts. It was a big deal for him, spoiling us. Christmas holidays were the most time we would spend together in the year, having such different schedules and massive workloads. We had a tradition of staying home all holiday, waking up on Christmas morning and pouring mimosas, opening prezzis and then I would cook a full turkey dinner with homemade yorkies, all the sides. Phil was British and it gave me such joy to do that for him. The rest of the day would be spent swimming with the dogs, listening to music and just spending time together.

What are your plans to get through the holidays this year?

Ugh, this year is going to be hard. My first Christmas without him. I spent the last few weeks processing it and thinking I would just not do anything, but I think that may make it worse, so I am going to change it completely. We are having a big Christmas eve dinner with family and friends, presents and lots of wine. Christmas day I will be celebrating (with mimosas) with my friends overseas on Discord. I think it’s about making it different but special, re-framing it. I’m still not sure about putting up a tree and lights, but I know he would want me to, so maybe! So many people are grieving this December and I think it’s just about making it special for you, your family and the person on the other side.

What is your message for the people reading this who are grieving?

Give yourself grace. It’s really, really hard and can be incredibly dark. Just getting up and brushing your teeth is enough. It’s okay to cry and okay to be miserable. It’s okay to be angry and its okay to be numb. But it’s also okay to be happy and in those moments the guilt will come, allow it to pass. You deserve to smile this holiday season. And if you can, make yourself something nice to eat. Try a new recipe. Pour something nice to drink and raise a glass for your person or people in heaven, because they’re with you. You will get through, just like you got through the last few weeks, months and years. You’ve got this. And you are not alone.

Listen to Danny Painter on ‘Love Songs with Danny Painter’ every Monday to Thursday between 19:00 and 22:00 on Jacaranda FM.

Sources: Danny Painter 
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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