Stephen Colbert on his ‘gratitude’ for the pain of grief


In a deeply personal and intimate conversation about loss and grief on Anderson Cooper’s new podcast All There Is, Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show, opened up about the importance of “learning to love the thing you wish had never happened.” .”

Colbert, the youngest of 11 siblings, lost his father and two teenage brothers Peter and Paul in a plane crash near Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 11, 1974. He was just 10 years old at the time.

“That’s such a cliff that I fell emotionally, psychologically and spiritually at that age,” he said.

Cooper was also 10 when he lost his father to a heart attack in 1978 at age 50. Ten years later, Cooper’s brother, Carter, died by suicide.

Colbert told Cooper that the loss of his father and brothers “destroyed” his and his mother’s lives, but it did not “destroy” them. “It’s a gift to exist,” Colbert told Cooper, “and… with existence comes suffering. There is no escaping it, but if you are grateful for your life, then you must be grateful for everything.”

Colbert went on to say, “You can’t beat grief because you’re the one doing it to you. Grief itself is a natural process that you have to experience.”

Cooper admitted that he always assumed he would be dead by age 50, just like his father. He was afraid that if he had children, they would grow up fatherless.

After he had turned 50 and was assured by his doctor that he was in good health, Cooper said he… felt safer having children. He now has two young sons, Wyatt and Sebastian.

Likewise, Colbert shared that because he had never lived a life with a father older than 10, he viewed his own mortality through the ages of his three children and said he would constantly do “that terrible math all the time.” , fearing that he would die as each approached the age of 10.

Colbert has learned to accept his losses, but describes his grief as “like living with a beloved tiger. It can surprise you, it can surprise you. And it can really hurt you, but it’s my tiger, and it will live as long as I do.”

Colbert advised Cooper, who said he is still trying to understand his grief, to talk about his loved ones and share stories about their lives. Rather than seeing sadness as a trap for depression, Colbert said he tries to see it as a doorway, “because on the other side you’ll be a different person.”

Since his podcast’s debut last week, Cooper has received thousands of messages from listeners writing about their own journey through loss and why it’s so important to finally talk about it out loud.

New episodes of CNN’s All There Is with Anderson Cooper are available every Wednesday on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts from.