Stephen Colbert talks about grief to Anderson Cooper

Stephen Colbert talks about grief to Anderson Cooper

Stephen Colbert shares his experiences with grief in the new podcast Everything there is to Anderson Cooper.

The late night host, 58, whose father and two brothers were killed in a plane crash in 1974, spoke to the CNN anchor about his philosophy on loss. Cooper, 55, who has also witnessed the deaths of several family members, including his brother Carter by suicide in 1988, said Colbert’s belief — that it’s possible to find “gratitude” in grief — was deeply moving.

Colbert shared: “I lost my father and my brothers, Peter and Paul, when I was 10. And that realization just came, you know, I’m on the threshold of middle age. I was literally walking down the street and was struck by the realization that I was grateful for the pain of that sadness. It doesn’t take the pain away. It doesn’t make the sadness less deep. In some ways it makes it deeper, because it allows you to look at it. It allows you to examine your grief in a way that it’s not like holding red-hot embers in your hands, but seeing that pain as something that can warm you and ease your knowledge of what other people might be going through. “It’s a way of saying it’s valuable to have experienced it. How does that become gratitude? That’s the part that shocked me, so I can’t tell you how to get there.”

Colbert shared that waves of concern about his own mortality would hit him hardest as his children grew up.

“Since my dad, my brothers died when I was 10, when my kids were younger, it would hit me at unexpected times,” he explained. “In moments of great happiness, like even just my daughter, like jumping off the swing at the right point and landing and being happy and running over and saying, ‘Have you seen daddy?’ and, you know, give me a hug. That moment of absolutely unspeakable joy of transportation. And she’s 6, let’s say in this memory. I’d say, ‘Oh, isn’t this great? Four more years!'”

Cooper and Colbert first got together to discuss grief in a 2019 interview on CNN, where Cooper asked: The Colbert Report alum about his experiences with death. Colbert, who is a Catholic, said: “We are asked to accept and accept with love the world that God gives us. If God is everywhere, and God is in everything, then the world as it is all is but an expression of God and his love, and you must accept it with gratitude.”

In an earlier podcast episode, Cooper — who is now a father of two — shared that he never wanted his sons to see the grief he often saw reflected in his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, who was present when her son died by suicide.

“As the new parent of these two cute, sweet and joyful boys, I don’t want them ever to see in me what I sometimes saw in my mother,” he explained. “I don’t want them to see shadows of loss and grief hiding somewhere deep behind my eyes, like I did with my mother. When my kids look into my eyes, I want them to see my love reflected for them, and that’s all. That’s what I want them to see. I want them to feel that stability, to know that they are in good hands and to know that they are loved.”

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