CBS Photo Archive—CBS via Getty Images
By Cady Lang
August 16, 2019

While most associate Stephen Colbert with the laughs that make up The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the late night host shared a more serious and tender moment with Anderson Cooper during an appearance on the Thursday night show of Anderson Cooper 360.

The men had a touching discussion about grief and loss and the influential role it played early on in both of their personal lives. Cooper was 10 years old when he lost his father to a heart attack; Colbert was the same age when he lost his father and two of his brothers to a plane crash in 1974.

At one point during the interview, Cooper began tearing up when asking Colbert about comments he had made about learning to “love the thing that I most wish had not happened.”

“You went on to say, ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ Do you really believe that?” Cooper asked.

“Yes,” Colbert said. “It’s a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that.” He later elaborated on the role that grief and loss can play in life.

“What do you get from loss? You get awareness of other people’s loss, which allows you to connect with that other person, which allows you to love more deeply and to understand what it’s like to be a human being if it’s true that all humans suffer.”

Cooper also talked about the recent loss of his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt and thanked Colbert for the compassionate letter he wrote him after her death.

“You said ‘I hope you find peace in your grief,'” Cooper said. He then shared that talking about grief both online and in-person with others who also experienced loss was how he has been finding his peace.

“I found that the most helpful thing, I found it to be the most powerful and moving thing,” Cooper said. “And I kind of, oddly, don’t want that to stop because in regular times, people don’t do that.”

Watch Anderson Cooper’s interview with Stephen Colbert below.

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

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