Monday, April 8, 2013

Anderson Cooper & His Mom

I recently watched parts of  the Anderson Live! episodes that explored surviving loss and rebuilding your life in the aftermath.

I found it touching and almost too private to watch Anderson Cooper and his mother talk about their personal reactions to the sudden loss of two very close loved ones from their lives.  I really wanted to know what they did to survive such shocking and tragic deaths but at the same time their thoughts were so candid that I almost wondered if they were aware that the cameras were rolling.

It's courageous and incredibly helpful for the greater good when celebrities such as CNN reporter and talk show host Anderson Cooper and his mother, former fashion designer and heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, publicly discuss how they coped with loss and allow others to know about the sadness and anxiety that enveloped their lives and what helped them start to heal. 

Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt

Cooper's father and Vanderbilt's husband Wyatt Emory Cooper, died at the age of 50 during open heart surgery. Vanderbilt never married again. Anderson was only ten years old when his father died. A decade later, an even more horrifying tragedy struck the Vanderbilt-Cooper family: Cooper's brother, Carter. leapt to his death while Vanderbilt was trying to coax him away from a ledge in the family's New York City apartment building.

I don't see it as an attempt to grab ratings.  If that were the case, they could do so many other things or talk about so many other attention getting  subjects to boost televisions ratings rather than talk about their grief, a subject which most people consider to be a downer.

Loss can shattter your heart and scramble your psyche and in bringing the subject of grief to daytime television, Cooper and his mother went a long way in breaking the long accepted barrier of hiding grief feelings.  When people see Cooper and Vanderbilt talking about their pain, then they sometimes give themselves permission to start to feel comfortable talking about their pain and their sorrow with their family and friends.  Hopefully, grief then becomes less of a taboo subject.

Cooper and his mom could very easily have kept quiet about that sad part of their lives and only shared those feelings and thoughts about their losses with those they trust.  But instead, they decided to take those feelings from a private place and talk about them on television, putting them out in a public forum, making themselves vulnerable by exposing their pain, confusion and shock.
I hope the fearless way that Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, intimately talked about the deaths of their father/husband and brother/son helped them gain additional strength as they continue to acknowledge their feelings about their loved ones and rebuild their lives.  As they have said themselves, it is something that never leaves them.  From the comments that others wrote on there is no doubt that the Anderson Live! episodes dedicated to grief, love and loss helped and inspired many, many others also trying to cope with similiar feelings of loss.

No matter what walk of life you are from, baring your soul and revealing your feelings is about the basic human need to connect with others.  It's making our best effort to help each other through tough times.  Connections between people who care is what life is all about.  Feeling that another human being understands, likes, respects, enjoys or loves you for being you makes the vulnerability worthwhile.

I felt that connection from others many years ago when I went to my bereavement support group for almost two years and I still feel that connection when I talk to certain people about my husband's death.  It's truly a powerful feeling and it helps you go on with your life.

Here a bit of Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt's story of survival:


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