“I still feel like the rest of the world where I’m still shocked,” the dance pro, 35, told Hoda Kotb during an interview on the Wednesday, May 3, episode of the Today show. “No one’s ready for that moment and there’s no one that saw this coming. No one — and that breaks my heart too.”
Holker went on to say that she’s “so sad” none of her late husband’s friends and family knew he was suffering. “He wanted to be the strong one for everyone, and I think that was a little scary for him to think that he might need to ask for help,” she explained. “He was so much love and light. He really wanted to be everyone’s Superman and he said that a lot.”
While coping with her husband’s death has been tough enough on its own, Holker added that talking to their children about it has been one of the most difficult parts of the situation. “It’s really hard,” she told Kotb, 58, while holding back tears. “There’s been some really hard conversations. To us, Daddy’s in the stars. So, we can go outside and talk to him whenever we want. … They just ask, ‘When is Daddy coming back?’ and that’s a really hard one.”
“And then it’ll be a couple weeks later, ‘But does he come back when he’s older? Like, when Daddy’s older he’ll come back?’” she says. “But they are still children and still obviously want him here.”
The Dancing With the Stars alum and the former Ellen DJ exchanged vows in 2013, welcoming their son, Maddox, and daughter Zaia in 2016 and 2019, respectively. Boss was also the adopted father of Holker’s eldest daughter, Weslie, from a previous relationship.
The emotional interview comes less than six months after Boss died by suicide at age 40. The dancers celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary days before Us Weekly confirmed his death in December 2022.
“Stephen lit up every room he stepped into. … To say he left a legacy would be an understatement, and his positive impact will continue to be felt,” Holker said of her late husband in a statement that month. “I am certain there won’t be a day that goes by that we won’t honor his memory. We ask for privacy during this difficult time for myself and especially for our three children.”
She added: “Stephen, we love you, we miss you, and I will always save the last dance for you.”
Speaking to Kotb, Holker admitted that she initially wondered if there was something she “missed” that would have clued her in to Boss’ state of mind. “I eventually had to tell myself, I can’t change anything that’s happened,” she explained, adding that she still talks to her husband at night. “I don’t allow myself to be in a place of anger or sadness, though I allow myself to feel it. I’m feeling this much pain because I’ve had so much love.”
In the aftermath of his death, the Step Up 3D actor was honored with a Celebration of Life service in Los Angeles in February. The memorial was reportedly attended by more than 500 guests — including Ellen DeGeneres, Derek Hough and Wayne Brady — with Holker and Weslie both speaking.
Since losing her husband, the choreographer has been candid with her fans about processing her grief. “He was someone that was just beautiful, and he lived his life from love and he made you feel a certain way,” she said in an Instagram video uploaded in February. “My family and I have always said that we wanted to make sure that our purpose was lived out by bringing joy to people, joy to people’s homes, from dance or love — and that’s not going to change for us. It’s going to feel a little bit different, but we know that that’s our purpose, and we’ll still do that to this day.”
Earlier that month, Holker filed for control of Boss’ estate through a California Spousal Property Petition. Documents obtained by Us noted that the Alabama native died without a will. (Per California state law, the living spouse is entitled to their deceased partner’s half of their joint estate but must submit legal paperwork proving their connection.)
At the time, a source exclusively told Us that Boss “absolutely” would have wanted Holker and their family to be “taken care of” in the event of his death. “Anyone who knew Stephen would tell you his wife and kids were his No. 1 priority,” the insider added. “There’s every confidence the courts will agree to do the right thing and give her half his estate.”
Two months later, Us confirmed that a judge from the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County granted Holker’s request after she proved that she was in fact married to Boss at the time of his death. According to docs obtained by Us in April, Holker asked for half of all Boss’ current and future earnings since he “owned nothing of value” when they exchanged vows.
The Minnesota native pointed out that there were “no written agreements between” her and Boss that would have “impacted the determination that the assets” the twosome gained during their marriage “were community property.” She further requested that royalties from Boss’ work as an actor, producer and dancer be partially allotted to her and their kids.
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.