Photo Courtesy of CNN, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert 

You may have seen the recent interview with Stephen Colbert by Anderson Cooper on CNN. If you haven’t, I highly encourage you to do so. It is a frank and compassionate conversation between two people who have been shaped by their grief. The fact that these two successful people who have both experienced significant loss were so open about sharing their experiences is striking.


Anderson Cooper talks about what we as a society say about grief and loss, which is we don’t talk about it, though we are all bound to experience it. He recalls after the death of his mother, designer, and heiress, Gloria Vanderbilt, people would just come up on the street or reach out to him on social media and recount their own grief experience. He was struck by how grief is experienced by so many, yet rarely discussed. He also found great comfort in hearing the stories of others and about their loved ones. We have a great gift in the programs offered by Faith & Grief, its a place to tell the stories of the loved ones we have lost and share the journey of grief with others. I appreciated he acknowledged the comfort that other’s stories provided.


Both acknowledge that their loss had made them who they are. Both Cooper and Colbert had lost their father at the age of 10, and both had lost siblings. They both acknowledged that they were not sure who they would be without their experiences of loss. Stephen Colbert recounts how he began to take on the role of caretaker for his mother to help her with her grief. He also says his love of fantasy and sci-fi became a comfort. He found in the writings of Tolkien and other writers a respite from his grief. Colbert’s way of dealing with his pain was his own as all of us who have lost someone knows is the only way to grieve, each in our way.


Later in the interview, Anderson Cooper recalls an earlier interview where Stephen Colbert was asked about how he learned to accept that loss was a part of life. Cooper says, “You told an interviewer that you have learned to – in your words – ‘love the thing that I most wish had not happened.’” Anderson Cooper struggles to finish the quote, and in an unexpected show of emotion, he struggles to hold back his tears. It was a tender and real moment, and I was glad they didn’t cut away. It showed that they both were ok with tears.


Finally, they both talk about the bond you have with someone you know who has suffered a significant loss and how it is so powerful. The two talk about how it’s a bond you don’t expect, but that in the sharing of each other’s grief journey, a great connection is made. Cooper shares he was surprised at how that made him feel, but that he hopes people continue to share their stories with him and that connecting with others who have experienced significant loss is so essential in grieving.