Stephen Colbert opens up about his grief for Anderson Cooper

Stephen Colbert opens up about his grief for Anderson Cooper

Stephen Colbert is sharing his experiences with grief on the new podcast All Is By Anderson Cooper.

The late-night host, 58, whose father and two brothers died in a plane crash in 1974, spoke to the CNN anchor about his philosophy on loss. Cooper, 55, who has also experienced the death of multiple family members, including his brother Carter’s suicide in 1988, found Colbert’s belief – that it is possible to find “gratitude” in grief – profound.

Colbert said, “I lost my father and my brothers, Peter and Paul, when I was 10 years old. And that realization didn’t come until, you know, I’m on the doorstep of middle age. Literally walking down the street, I was struck with this realization that I was grateful for the pain of that grief. It doesn’t make the pain go away. It doesn’t make the sadness so 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 is not, like, holding a red hot bore in your hands, but seeing that pain as something that can warm you and your knowledge of what others might to be going through his burning. Which is really another way of saying it’s worth experiencing. Now, how does that thank you? That’s the part that scared me, so I can’t tell you how to go about it.”

Colbert shared that waves of anxiety about his own mortality would hit him hardest as his children were growing up.

“Since my father died when I was 10 years old, when my children were younger, he would hit me at unexpected times,” he explained. “In moments of great joy, like even my daughter, like jumping off the swing at the right spot and landing and being happy about it and running over and saying, ‘Did you see Daddy?’ and, you know, give me a hug. That moment of indescribable transport joy. And she is 6, let’s say in memory. I’m like, ‘Oh, isn’t this great? Four more years!’”

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

In an earlier podcast episode, Cooper – now a father of two – said he never wanted his son to see the grief he often saw in his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, who was present when her son died through suicide.

“As a new parent to these two adorable, happy boys full of joy, I don’t want them to see in me what I sometimes saw in my mom,” he explained. “I don’t want them to see the shadows of loss and sadness hidden somewhere deep behind my eyes like I did with my mom. When my children look into my eyes I want to see them return my love for them, and that’s it. That’s what I want to see them. 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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