Anderson Cooper spoke on The View last week about his latest book, written with his mother. The hosts of the talk show talked with Cooper about the losses he’s experienced in his life, those of both his father and his brother, who committed suicide at age 23.
Cooper spoke elegantly, saying:
“I think any time you lose somebody, particularly if you lose someone early on, this is something that changes the course of your life. We don’t talk about loss much- people get nervous talking about loss and grief.”
Having recently passed the two-year anniversary of my mother’s death and her 57th birthday (she was 54 when she died), I find that Cooper’s words ring true.
In the past two years I’ve spoken about my mother in brief instances. I’ve offered support to others who have lost a parent, I’ll tell stories of my childhood with my mother, and I find ways to commemorate anniversaries. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve spoken about the grief of losing a mother in the past two years. It recently came to my attention when speaking with my roommate, who after inquiring about how it’s been, frankly asked, “do you like talking about your mom? Is it ok if I ask how things are?”
I appreciated that exchange of words and conversation. It can be isolating, realizing you live in a culture where describing your grief or openly hurting from a loss isn’t very welcomed. People value strength. Americans value perserverence. Of course, people will support you if you briefly mention how hard it’s been, but rarely is it celebrated to discuss a loss in detail and reflect on grief openly.
I’ve struggled to find words to accurately mark the second anniversary of my mother’s death. While two years can seem like so recently, it’s a remarkably long amount of time. Two years is substantial, especially at age 19 and 20, to be without a mother.
The biggest realizations come at decision points, when I could use a voice to weigh in reason and work through options, only to find that the voice who could best offer help is one that can no longer be heard.
I have most certainly accepted my mother’s death at this point in my life. I am no longer angry or resentful, but I do still feel the emptiness that is loss. Cooper said:
“But oftentimes, and you see it on television, people use the word ‘closure.’ There is no such thing as closure. It’s such a silly word. You know time moves on and things heal, but the wounds remain.”
Closure does not exist. Loss is a concept you can move through and move past, but when you look back, it still remains. It’s tentacles affect every aspect of your life; molding you into the person you are, shaping your frame of mind, your ability to deal with situations, and your emotional capacity.
It has taken until viewing this Cooper interview to adequately express my thoughts and feelings. I had a writer’s block, per say, but I also didn’t know how to approach expressing a grief I felt should probably have dissipated by now. The loss of my mother is no longer overwhelming, but it is absolutely still felt.
Thank you, Anderson Cooper, for speaking publicly on the need for our society to be more willing to discuss grief and loss, and more accepting/understanding of varying forms of persisting anguish.