Men Talking About Grief

“We really don’t talk about grief and loss, people aren’t comfortable with it.” 
CNN host Anderson Cooper says to Stephen Colbert in the video below where the two men talk about grief and loss.

Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper

While this is on CNN, put aside all your political leanings since both Republicans and Democrats (and possibly “independents”) live, grieve, die, and generally share many aspects of life. This is not a political discussion — it is two men talking about grief.


Two men talking about anything other than sports, business, or politics is in itself worth watching. How often does that happen? Men discussing feelings (while sober) could be a show all by itself.

“We really don’t talk about grief and loss,
people aren’t comfortable with it.” 

Anderson Cooper


Both men lost siblings and fathers early in life and Cooper has recently lost his mother when they filmed this. Colbert, who is a rare strong Christian in the media world, lost his father and two older brothers in a plane crash when he was 10 years old. He was the youngest of 11 children (yes, they are Catholic) and was the only one still at home with his mom. 


“There is a different guy…before my brothers and father died,” Colbert says in the interview. “You become a different person.”


This is something many of us have experienced with grief, especially one that is sudden and unexpected. His mother died when she was 92 and he does not say he changed after that. It was the loss of “dad and the boys” when they should have lived much longer. Grief changes you and not necessarily for the worse. You can see in the interview that Anderson is still struggling with this concept as he thinks he is warped version of what he should be — Colbert challenges him on this. Perhaps the person we become after grief is the person we are meant to be.


“There is a different guy…before my brothers and father died.”
“You become a different person.”

Stephen Colbert


Colbert also talks about the challenges that exist for those who lose a child, which he has not. He says a friend that lost a child asked him how his mother did it, and he responds that he wishes she was alive to tell her. In other words, he does not know and he does not try to answer it. Smart man. He does note that his mother “would pray to Our Lady because she knows what it is to lose a child.”


For you non-Catholics, “Our Lady” is Mary and when we pray to her we seek her intercession with her Son, just as you might ask a friend to pray for you. People think (and even some Catholics get confused) that we pray to Mary and the saints to “get something” when really all we seek are their prayers. 


Mary does know what it means to lose a a child, and she probably spent most of her life waiting for it. And she watched him die a cruel, slow death on the cross. She gets the pain a parent feels. As a grieving parent, this makes me seek out Mary even more.


I encourage you to watch this video. It is not short (20 minutes), but it moves along quickly. I’ve had this shared with me by others several times and I know people find it helpful. I don’t agree with everything they say — Colbert’s faith is a bit more fatalistic than mine, but I love that they simply say anything. They talk about love, loss, grief, and living with loss. That is a conversation worth listening to.

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