Duane 'Dog' Chapman on Family Christmas Plans and the Painful Void Left Behind By Late Wife Beth (Exclusive)

Zach Seemayer‍
The reality star opened up to ET on Thursday about honoring his wife's memory during the holiday season.

For Duane "Dog" Chapman and his family, Christmas is a little quieter and a bit colder this year following the loss of his wife and best friend, Beth Chapman.

The Dog the Bounty Hunter star opened up to ET via phone interview on Thursday, and Duane reflected on how the family is coping with the void left by his late wife this holiday season.

"For the holidays, probably half of us, including me, will be in Colorado, and then the other half is in Hawaii, and of course Leland is in Alabama," Duane said, referring to his son and co-star on his reality series. "So this year, everybody's all spread out."

However, in the Chapman household in Colorado, Duane is honoring Beth's memory by trying to recreate the spirit of the season the way she loved to when she was alive.

"Beth was old style, old-fashioned. So, you know, that means the tree and the presents. All the stockings hung up… so I'm trying to keep that exact tradition," he said. "I've got it all decorated. All the stockings are hung. We always left -- when the kids were young -- cookies for Santa, and I think I'll do that this year also."

However, the little Christmas rituals that became routine during their time together are proving to be incredibly poignant in her absence, and memories of his late wife are in every bit of holiday decoration.

"Every little ball that's on the tree, every ornament, you know, there's 20 years plus of ornaments on that tree, so as I hung [them], I remembered where and when we bought each one," he recalled.

Even when it comes to the Christmas music playing through the house, Beth's presence can be felt -- especially for the reality star's daughters, who used to sing along with the family matriarch.

"Beth knew every single [Christmas song], and she made us all listen to Christmas songs like two weeks before Christmas. As we decorated the tree, she'd put on Christmas songs. Every night before we went to bed she'd put them on," he recalled. "So I think the girls are taking it the hardest without being able to sing with mom."

After a two-year battle with throat cancer, Beth died on June 26 at The Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

"It's the worst thing you could ever go through," Duane shared. "I've been to prison, I've been let out of prison. I've captured some of the worst sons of bitches in the world, and nothing is worse than this."

For the 66-year-old reality star, the fact that her death occurred a full six months ago is something that he has a hard time wrapping his head around.

"It seems like yesterday. Six whole months already. And pretty soon it will be a year. It's really hard when you start thinking about how long it's been," he shared. "I think that's the worst of all, because I can't believe it's been six months."

"The first few months I didn't care whether I lived or died," he recalled. "As a matter of fact I kept getting upset every time I woke up in the morning."

However, now that time has passed, he said that "things are slowly changing" and he's found a motivation to not only live, but live a healthier life than ever before.

"I'm doing much better with my health. I've almost quit smoking. That patch is a miracle. It's just amazing and I'm taking blood thinners for the blood clot in my lung and exercising. I always have worked out every day and I'm double that now," Duane shared. "So yeah, I need to live to get through my mission in life."

He's also looking forward to the new year, and said he'll "be glad to get 2019 behind me."

"What a terrible year I had," he reflected. "Ended this year with Beth being gone, so I know that 2020 has got to be better cause nothing can be that bad."

"I'm just gonna kick off the new year. I'm hoping to start season two on Dog's Most Wanted right after the holidays are over and so I'm gonna be the most bounty hunter they've ever seen," he added. "We're going to go after all the dangerous, no-good bastards that we can, so I'm kinda looking forward to beating up all the bad guys."

Duane will also be appearing in his first ever acting role, playing himself in the upcoming faith-based thriller Hunting God.

"I had fun doing it and my imagination is a little better. You have to imagine that you're in that zone, you know? So I really, really enjoyed it," said Chapman, who explained that, despite playing a fictionalized version of himself, it was still a challenge to learn how to memorize scripts and act naturally, considering his entertainment background is based entirely in reality TV and docu-series. "[But] I really had a great time."

-Reporting by Brendon Geoffrion.

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