You Are Not Alone – All There Is with Anderson Cooper – Podcast on CNN Audio

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My name is Christine. I recently lost my dad to Parkinson’s, and 20 years prior, I lost my mom to colon cancer.

My wife passed away December eight, 2021, from metastatic breast cancer just a month shy of our 18th anniversary together.

My name is Holly. I lost my partner, Leanne of almost 20 years this April. I just want to share her with the world. I’m really struggling now so having this message and being able to leave something right now feels really helpful.

My dad died when I was 11, my brother Randy when I was 23. My husband Steven was murdered in the 9/11 attacks.

I lost my 18 year old daughter unexpectedly in a car accident. She was so vibrant, beautiful and full of life.

My name is P.J.. Two years and three months ago, I lost my husband of 35 years.

I lost my brother Bernie in 1984.

I lost both my parents within six months of each other.

I lost my son, Kyle. He was 18 years old.

I lost my daughter at 27.

My husband died by suicide in January of 2019 at the age of 67, his name was Victor. My loved one is my mom, Meredith Kaplan. Long live Hector Noriega.

My brother’s name was Wayne Dodge.

His name was Oliver Patrick.

In the last lines of a book about his own death. Harold Brodky wrote. “I’m standing on an unmoored raft apunt, moving on the flexing flowing face of a river. It is precarious. The unknowing, the taut balance, the jolts and the instability spread and widening ripples through all my thoughts. Peace. There was never any in the world. But in the pliable water. Under the sky. Unmoored. I’m traveling now and hearing myself laugh. At first with nerves and then with genuine amazement. It is all around me.” This is all there is. There’s no guest with me here. This episode, our final episode, at least for this season. You, in a sense, are my guest today. Wherever you may be in the world or in grief, whether it’s on that precarious, unmoored raft, moving on, the flexing flowing face of a river or in your home drinking coffee or out for a walk. This past week, I’ve been listening to you. I’ve been traveling in airports, in cars and a hotel room in Los Angeles. Back in my home in New York. In between my other jobs and being with my kids. I’ve been listening to your grief and to the names of your loved ones and to what you’ve learned. And to how you’ve survived.

I asked for you to leave voicemails with something that you’d learned about loss. And you did that. I’ve heard hundreds of your voicemails, and I’ve heard the pain. And I’ve heard your grief. But what I heard over and over, it wasn’t just about loss. It was about love. That is what so many of you spoke about. All of you spoke of love, as BJ miller said to me in our third episode, you can’t have one without the other, can you? I didn’t plan on making a podcast. I started making recordings while going through my mom’s things as a way to feel less alone and listening to your messages I don’t just feel less alone, I know I’m not alone. And I know that none of us are. We are floating in an ocean of loss. It is all around us. Sometimes we see it, but more often than not, it’s hidden just beneath the surface, but it’s there. So in this episode, I want you to hear from all the other people who’ve been listening. I want you to hear what I heard and learn what I’ve learned from you.

The name is Carrie Dalessandro. When I was 18, my father drowned on our family vacation to the beach off of New York’s Fire Island. He wanted to go swimming and no one else did. So we walked down the beach alone. After a while, when he didn’t return to the blanket, my mother sent me to look for him. I walked in the direction I saw him go. And after a few minutes of walking down the empty beach, I saw the wave board he was using washed up on the shore. I looked out at the ocean and saw something floating there. I remember thinking it looked like a cardboard box. I swam out and realized I was looking at my father’s back. Although I was in the water too deep to stand, I managed to turn him over and see his face. I knew in that moment he was gone. I estimate I was alone in the ocean with my father treading water for about 15 minutes before a stranger walking down the beach saw me. It’s been over 30 years, but I still remember how quiet those 15 minutes were. It was only the sounds of the water and me gently talking to my father, telling him I loved him and I would be okay, holding him tightly. In the months after the accident, everyone was so worried about me and what I’d gone through. I was sent to a therapist who said something like, You’ll have to face the trauma at some point. I decided instead to put those feelings away, safely hidden and unexamined. It took over 20 years for me to look at that experience in the light and see it as the gift that it was. I was with him the last few days of his life, enjoying the beach and his company, and I got to be there with him at the end holding him so he wasn’t alone in the ocean. Just the two of us in the quiet. I would say to your listeners that being with someone you love when they die can be a heavy weight to carry but it can also be an incredible privilege. I wasn’t the only one who loved my father by far. I wasn’t his only child. But I was the one who got to be with him that day. And I’m thankful.

It was a gift, she said, to be there with him, and it took her 20 years to see it. An 18 year old woman holding her father as the waves gently pushed them on the quiet face of the sea.

My name is Rose Quilter, and I’m an 85 year old Catholic sister. I buried a friend today, and something that I’ve learned over the years that I believe from experience is once you’ve really deeply grieved a loss of a loved one, you have the possibility of being much more compassionate to yourself and to many others. And that opens up a tremendous gift in life. It’s the gift of vulnerability. And I, I, I truly, I treasure it. David White, the poet, says “Your vulnerability, your wound is the place where you are open to the world whether you want to be or not. But if we choose to be, there’s a great depth that rewards us in some mysterious way. ”

Treasuring the gift of vulnerability. Thank you, Rose. I think Rose is so right. And- and it is a choice, isn’t it? My mom chose to be vulnerable despite all the terrible losses she had experienced early on in life. She chose to be open and vulnerable, and she was taken advantage of some times, but it didn’t close her up. She chose it. For a long time. I chose not to be vulnerable, but I think I don’t want to do that anymore. And I love that quote by David White, it echoes a line by Rumi, a Sufi teacher and a poet who said, “The wound is the place where light enters you.” And I believe that very much to be true as well.

My name is Claire Caldwell. In 2013, my husband was killed along with 13 other men. Many of them parents in Yarnell, Arizona. They were fighting a wildfire. They were called the Granite Mountain Hotshots. What I wanted to share with you is the thing that makes me the most grateful for grief. The opportunities that I’ve had because of my grief, the opportunities to connect on a profoundly deeper level with humans than I ever was able to before. I’m not afraid of other people’s grief. And there’s this common thread that runs between all of us who’s ever really lost and felt this deep grief. So I feel connected to you, Anderson, and Stephen Colbert and the folks that have been on your podcasts and the people that I know that are out there that I haven’t met yet. We have such an opportunity to deepen our connection because of this grief. And I know it might not seem like it. Now, because it’s a fresh loss. But eventually you will find things to be grateful for.

This idea of being grateful for grief is so extraordinary to me. Stephen Colbert spoke about it in episode two, but when he first mentioned it to me three years ago, in the weeks after my mom died, I was thunderstruck by it. It was like somebody speaking a language I’d never heard before and couldn’t comprehend. But I do understand it now, and I’m not saying I can always feel that way because I think feeling grateful is it’s hard at times, but- but I’m closer to it than I was. Claire, hearing- hearing you say that, really- it makes me feel like I can get even closer to it still. Another powerful idea many of you spoke about is gratitude. This Charlotte.

I had 24 years, three months and 17 days with my soulmate, my husband Phillip, the love of my life. He passed away five years ago after a long illness. One thing that has helped me is to sit with my grief and think my grief, because my grief shows me each and every time how strong I do love, I still love, and how large our love is and love is everything. And because it is everything it can never be smaller than my grief. I don’t know if that will be helpful to you or not. I think that you’re very brave in the program that you’re doing. Thank you.

Many of you also emphasized something that I think is so true and so important. This idea that there’s no timeline for grief no matter what other people say to you.

My name is Eve Levy. Don’t let anyone else’s idea of how you should proceed guide you along this path. Find your own rhythm and trust yourself. In the past year and a half since my husband Kevin died I’ve been able to let go of many of his clothes. But I can’t bear to move his slippers from the last place he left them. And that’s okay for as long as I need them there they’ll be there.

My name is Lara Moretti. I first started listening to the podcast because I am a bereavement counselor. And then a week ago, I lost my father. And so listening this week is very different. But the thing that I often tell my clients and I think is really I hope, is that the good thing about grief is that we all do it differently so that no one can tell you you’re doing it wrong. But the bad thing about grief where the hard thing about grief is that we all do it differently. You can’t look to the person next to you to know if you’re doing it right, because that’s something we all have to figure out how do we grieve?

This is Kay Johnson. Listening to this podcast has liberated me from the arbitrary hourglass of grief. And what I mean by that is that when you’re grieving, there comes this very definite point where even with the people who love you, there’s a switch from the things that happened to you, to the thing that is happening because of you. The implication is that time is up, that you should be better now that they want you fixed and you’re disappointing people if you’re not; that you’re defective. And listening to all of these brilliant people talk on this podcast has allowed me to think that I’m just fine, that my process and my timeline are mine, and I am beyond grateful for that.

Okay. I love that image, the arbitrary hourglass of grief. And yet I think you are just fine. I mean, who am I to judge? Look at me. I’m 55 years old. I’m in the basement every week and going through stuff from 45 years ago, agonizing over whether I should keep my mom’s socks. By the way, I didn’t keep my mom socks because, I mean, that seems one step too far even for me.

My mother’s name was Suzanne Rochelle Ferguson, and her birthday was yesterday. And one of the things that she always said when we were little kid always say, do your best and screw the rest. She never swore so it was really funny because if the rest as a kid. Do your best and screw the rest, like you just have to get out there and live our lives. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss her. That doesn’t mean I don’t love her. I miss her every day. And I believe you do your best and screw the rest.

That was from Lori. Long live Suzanne. Rachelle Swanson. I love that and I love that Lori has been able to find some ways to laugh. And in the midst of all this and so many of you had ways of remembering people that were humorous and fun and and I think that’s so important. This next caller, Susan, was responding to some of our guests talking about creating rituals to help them in their grief. Susan has a pretty unique ritual to honor and remember her mom, who sounds like a pretty amazing woman.

So my mom died in 2000. She was the best shopper. She found deals everywhere. She looked like I had a fashion diva and she just loved sales. So she died the day after her 80th birthday. So what I do every year to commemorate it is on her birthday. I go to the store and I buy something on sale. And then the next day, on the day of her death, I go back to the store and return it because she also returned- she was a shopper but she also returned an awful lot of stuff. So I think my mom would get a really big kick out of that and I get a kick out of it. It takes some of the edge off of the dates. I’ve been able to make it a little lighter just by doing this silly thing and commemorating my mom.

Susan, thank you for that. My mom was obviously quite a big shopper as well. Sadly, she did not return things and I wish she had. But I do love the idea of being creative in how we approach our losses. For many of you, the the loss is so recent and your grief just impossibly raw.

My name is Lisa and was talking about my daughter, Mela. I’m at the start of a thing called grief. Mela was 11 years old when she died unexpectedly four months ago, and I still can’t believe she died. It’s like my mind is always protecting me from the harsh reality because I just can’t believe it. I see it every time I walk past her bedroom stuff. Her stuffies are all lying on her bed. Her clothes are hung where she left them. But she’s gone. It’s obvious she’s gone. But I can’t even comprehend it. It’s hell. I feel it, yet I move forward. I have to. I feel so alone. Yet I know I’m not. I search for others who have lost their children for some sense of comfort. Yes, it happens to others. It’s not just me. You lose friends that you thought were your closest friends, that you’ll never stop, that they would be one. And it’s tiring, unrelenting. But there can be glimmers of hope and it’s what you do with that. Do you grasp them or do you push them away? And I choose to craft the hope not for myself only, but for my son, my husband and her dogs that are left behind, but also for my daughter, Mela. She deserves to live. And the way to do that is through me. So thanks for letting you say that.

Thank you for that and for telling us about Mela. I’m sending you love, and I’m sure everyone listening right now is doing the same. And I hope you can feel it. I hope you can feel it surround you.

I lost my daughter, my 20 year old daughter this past January. There’s nothing I can prepare a parent for the loss of a child. The grieving process is nothing like anything I have ever experienced. I really tried to be grateful that I had my daughter in my life for 20 years. I try to allow myself to feel what I’m feeling in the moment. I’m not psuh away the sadness. I cry in the moments that I need to accept that things are going to take me by surprise and that feelings of sorrow and loss are going to hit me out of nowhere. I remind myself that my daughter made me a better person. And she taught me things just like I taught her things. I tried really hard to find one moment of joy day. Butterflies have been an important symbol for me since she has passed. Her nursery was decorated with butterflies, and I recently saw the English proverb “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” This program brings me comfort and allows me to believe my daughter isn’t completely gone, but that she has moved on to some other place. Every day I look for signs of her. Whether it be a butterfly flying around a flower. A butterfly shaped cloud. Songs from the radio. I see reminders of her every day and I celebrate moments. I know my daughter would not want me to drown in sorrow. So I forced myself forward. I found a lot of comfort in the All Ther Is podcast. And it just really made me think about grief and this grieving process in a different way. And it made me more hopeful, I guess. That I’m not alone. It’s very comforting. Thank you for allowing me to share my message.

I wish my mom was here because I know she would want to call you. She watched my brother die and she survived. Sometimes she survived just one second at a time. Not day by day or hour by hour, but second by second. One breath in and one breath out. And then one day she was able to stand. And one day she was slowly able to take steps forward, putting one foot in front of the other.

This is Cynthia. We lost our beloved friend John at age 32 near Christmas but I have found things that helped. One I will share here is just, just walking. Just the act of taking a walk. Whether the day be sunny and warm or cool and brisk and cloudy. Just taking steps. Hopefully somebody walking with you. I find that we never move on, but we do have to move forward. And that the simple act of walking is a way of saying I’m moving forward. I’m moving forward in the midst of my sorrow and pain.

Healing comes in in many forms. And so many of you wanted to get that message across that it does get better and it can come in different ways for for everyone. A number of you were helped by writing letters.

After my father passed away, I would call my mom every night around 7 p.m. after dinner, and then a year later, when she passed away, that time became insurmountablly hard for me. And so what I started to do is write her a letter every day at that time, and that’s helped a lot. And I’ll pass those letters onto my kid someday so he can learn about his grandma, what it was like to grieve. And maybe that will help him.

My mother died of cancer when she was 50 and I was 13. I am now 49 years old. My mother knew she could die for several months. However, she never spoke to me about it, never wrote a letter to me. She was scared and didn’t have the emotional tools to face that, I suppose. Once I had children of my own, this started to become very real for me. How could my mother, who knew she was dying, not say a word or leave a letter to her 13 year old daughter? One day after meditation, I found myself inspired to write the letter that she would have written to me before she died. The words just came to me without thinking, and my pen was moving across my journal as if it was she who was writing it. I would recommend this exercise, which I found profoundly healing to quiet your mind and body and write the letter that a loved one who passed would write to you either before they died or today. What would they say to you about how much you are loved? What would they say to you about their life and their death? What would they apologize for? What would they help you understand about them? What would they say to you about how you can live your best life? What reassurances would they give you? It helped me a lot and I hope it can help others too.

My name is Flory and I’ve had two profound losses in my life. My older sister died of viral pneumonia when she was 25 and I was 19. And then after 40 years of marriage, my husband died from complications of Lewy Body dementia and I was 62. Over the years that we were married I felt sad because my husband and my sister had never met, the two people they loved the most in the world and who influenced me the most, they never met each other, but then one day I had the thought that because I was so influenced by both of them that they did meet. They met in me. That’s where they are now. Yeah. They’re- they’re living in me.

I found that so moving. That idea that that these two people who never met are in her and that they’re living on in her heart. Many of you reached out speaking about that feeling that your loved one is alive in your heart.

My name’s Judith. My family and I just recently lost our 25 year old daughter, Emily, very suddenly this past year in May. So we are really still in the middle of it, very raw and are grieving. I journal a lot and especially now after Emily’s passing, what I do every night is I look at this inscription on my wall. It’s part of a poem from ee Ccmmings, and it says, “I carry your heart with me. I carry it in my heart.” And by saying that to myself every night, it’s a reminder that while Emily may be gone, her spirit is always with me. It’s always in my heart. And it just makes me feel closer to her in this time where I thought, I’m still looking for her. Where? Where could she be? Where has she gone? I know where she is. She’s in my heart.

I lost my dad couple years ago, and when he was dying, we held hands. And I told him I was sorry for the things that I had done that I shouldn’t have or for making him mad and my dad couldn’t talk much at that point, and he kept pointing to his heart. And I worry that maybe he has- had pain there. And I said, You want me to get the nurse? And he put his finger out very sternly like a father would tell you something. And in that brief moment, he pointed to his heart. He drew a heart in the air and pointed me. My dad was not a demonstrative man. He was not, you know, fluffy like that. And that’s all he needed to say to me. And I have carried that with me every day because that was just for me. That was from his loving heart and said all I needed to say. So anyone going through grief grab on to those moments that you remember, whether it was before they passed or in your youth. And hold on to them because they’re gifts.

My mom’s name was Mary Jane, and she died January 15th of this year. She was my main person. I’m going through all of her things, years and years and years of things. And I think of you often because I know you’re doing the same thing. My mom was a reporter, journalist and then a writer editor for the Canadian government and I found a whole bunch of her old news clippings. And I mean, nobody cares about that except for me. It’s not important to anybody, really, except for me. And maybe you’re encountering that, too. And it’s incredibly lonely. And I just want to let you know you’re not alone.

That was from Ali and Ali. I know those files of old clippings. I have boxes of them, too. And throwing them out seems like like such an insult to my mom or my dad. And of course it’s not. But I know what it’s like to go through those things and not know what to do with them.

My name is Mary and I live in North Dakota. I’ve had sudden death and I’ve had old age death. People feel like you’re supposed to get over it and you really don’t get over it. And it just takes time. I too, like Anderson had to go through my parents house. And there comes a time when you just have to put stuff in boxes and say, I’m going to deal with this later. I can’t let this consume me. I don’t want to make my home into a shrine for my parents. So sometimes you just have to set it aside and just deal with it later.

Mary I think you’re so right. One of the things Laurie Anderson talked about is not being entombed by these things. And I think that’s something that’s that’s always a risk. I sometimes feel like I’m about to be entombed by them as well. And sometimes you just have to set it aside and think, okay, I’ll deal with it later, whatever later may be. One of the things that so surprised me in talking to the guests that we’ve had on the podcast was hearing their ways of rethinking grief or reframing grief. And that seems to have been helpful to many of you. And some of you also had other suggestions for, for different ways of thinking about it.

This summer marks ten years since I lost my beloved father. In medicine you can have a third space loss, where fluid leaks into the third space between the cells where it’s not supposed to be. My father had this when he was in a coma, and when he dwelled between both the world of the living and the dead and his body swelled with that fluid, we were all in the third space together, straddling life and death. And I think it’s apt for grief itself that grief forces you into this space between the worlds of the living and the dead. It’s dislocating. And that space, that pocket, is not bound by other conventions, even though the world keeps spinning and that you will find yourself there years later, on an anniversary or a birthday or, you know, the birth of your kid, back in that little pocket that no one else can really see. And it can be a comfort and a respite if you let it and give yourself permission to know that there is another world where you can take care of yourself and your memories, even if just for one brief moment. Thank you. My name is Jamie Fax.

So many things that I’ve learned in this podcast have fundamentally altered the way I think about my own losses. I already talked about Stephen Colbert. There was B.J. Miller, who I felt such kinship for, who spoke about not viewing sadness as an enemy and who helped me understand that part of my difficulty grieving my brother is that I, I wonder if I ever really knew him at all. Molly Shannon, who like me, was propelled forward by her early losses and driven to become the person she is. Elizabeth Alexander, whose father’s last words to her “Live your beautiful life, baby” are words I keep repeating to myself. Kirsten Johnson, who opened my eyes to anticipatory grief, a term I never even heard before. And the idea that you can still have a relationship with someone who’s died and still get to know them in a new and deeper way. Many of you left messages about that, the idea that your love for them can actually grow and become deeper. And Laurie Anderson, who said something to me that was so profound that I’d never realized it before.

When a loved one dies, part of you dies. with is that person. That little child dies. That little child your mother loved is dead. And so you- you’re like, Whoa, where did that little boy go? No one remembers him that way anymore. So he dies.

Hmm. I haven’t been articulate in that way, but that’s absolutely what I feel like. That little boy who my dad knew and my mom knew and my brother knew-

That no one else knows that anybody.

Yeah. There’s not anyone around from that time who knows him

So you experience your own death in that way

That was something that many of you were impacted by as well.

My name is Rebecca. My father was diagnosed with cancer when I was a baby, and he died after my 12th birthday. And so his cancer, it made me an only child and his death made me who I was for 40 years until my mother died eight years ago. And I’ve seen a different version of me since because I didn’t know how to grieve at 12. I purposefully walked through my mother’s death at 52, day by day, as if my life, then hers and daddies depended on it. You know, and I have grieved well and thoroughly. And here I am. As Laurie Anderson so beautifully articulated, still in grief. But I’m grieving the carefree child, the teen and the adult I was when I was still someone’s daughter. So thanks to that episode, I can now name what I felt since my mother’s death.

My father, Michael Knight, died when I was just two and he was 23. And I thought about- I’m going to cry, just talking. I thought about what you said about your father. I know that ten years is enough time to know him. And for him to have had a chance to shape you. And my life is different because I never knew my dad. But Laurie Anderson’s episode I- I literally had to stop when she said that that little boy that your mother knew was dead. It really it really got to me. I listened to it three times. So I guess what I’ve learned the most from losing my father, who I didn’t know was that talking about him and talking to people about him and hearing stories about him that has that has helped me more than anything else, because all those years, those 30 years, I didn’t talk about him at all. They were doing me no favors whatsoever. So I can cry openly because I have I’ve I’ve gotten to a place where it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to talk about it. And it’s okay that it sucks. It’s okay that I’m sometimes. But mostly I’m happy.

Thank you so much for that. It is okay that you’re sad and it does really suck, doesn’t it? As Lori’s mom, Suzanne, said, do your best and screw the rest.

My voice is already shaking. As someone who as a young adult is struggling with my relationships, my mom, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, I’m struggling with my relationship with them after they’ve already died. Something that came up in the Laurie Anderson episode, it really felt like it bears repeating. You know, your relationship to someone doesn’t die with them. You can explore that relationship. You can get to know that person. You can collect memories from other people. You can explore your feelings about them. And you can come to know them as a person outside of their relationship to you. And a lot of times that can help you grow a better perspective on loss. And I think it’s even more difficult when you lose a person who maybe you didn’t have a great relationship with but were related to. This is Summer from Philadelphia.

Summer brings up something that a lot of you talk to me about, but we didn’t get to address in these last eight episodes, which is that not all the relationships that you’re mourning were happy ones, and that impacts the way your grief feels. There’s also a lot of other stuff. We didn’t cover the grief for people who are still living but no longer part of your life because of mental illness or addiction or something else. I mentioned before that my mom used to never say “why me?” She would always say, “why not me?” Here’s another take on that.

Something that I have thought about in the aftermath of losing my mom when I was 17- it was always this question of why me? And I think there are different takes that you get from this question. There’s the thought that why not me? But I think something that helped me the most was turning it on its head. Why is this happening for me? So this is something that I just thought helped me a lot through the grief.

Why is this happening for me? I’ve never thought of it in that way. Thank you for that. So many of you also spoke about when grief is not quite so raw, when it’s not quite so new and it may not feel like it, but that will happen. And I think that’s important to know, especially if you’re in a place right now where it seems impossible to imagine that. So I want you to hear from some people who have that perspective.

Six and a half years ago, my beautiful sister Marina went to sleep and didn’t wake up at the age of 52. And the entire dynamic of our family was changed. There are, in fact, waves of grief. And while we have to allow ourselves to feel that grief and live in that grief and work through that grief, we don’t have to get stuck in that grief and those waves, although they come on hard and strong and sometimes relentlessly they do recede and one day there are fewer waves, and the next day maybe fewer still. And life carries on as it should. Just hang in there.

My name is Christina. I lost my wonderful husband, Eric, at two years and seven months ago to suicide. We have two children. They were eight and five at the time of his death. It’s been extremely difficult and I’ve had to continue on on many days that I didn’t think I could. Another suicide widow recently sent me a quote that says “we must be willing to give up the life we planned so we can live the life that’s waiting for us.” By Joseph Campbell. And I feel like that’s the point I’m at right now in my grief. I’m anxious to get out and live the life that’s waiting for me. I’m devastated and heartbroken that the life I had planned is no longer that life. But I can’t wait to see what love and life is still waiting for me and my children.

Losing parents. Losing my son to suicide 50 years ago. I can remember grappling with the pain and wanting someone who would have suffered losses like that to give me some advice. And the only thing I kept hearing was this pain will never go away. And you just have to learn to live with it. And I never found that comforting. One day you will laugh, and one day you will smile. And you will be happy again. Grief never lasts forever. Yes, you’re always going to miss that person. You’re always going to be horrified at some facet of how you lost them. But eventually the joy will come back into your life. And that has given me the biggest hope of all. Embrace it when it comes. Look forward to it. And that will keep you going. Thank you so much. My name is Esmeralda. I live in Mesa, Arizona.

My name is Elisa Zied. I lost my beloved mother, Barbara Carol Sixon, six months ago. And it’s been very difficult. But I have learned so much. Another chance at living and being alive. And as I feel my mom slip away with the passage of time, I’ve tried to loosen my grip on her and the life we shared together. I try to release her not because she won’t forever be in my heart or in my memories, but because I know I need to live for the living too and make space for this new life filled with love and new experiences. And it also is something that I know she would want for me. She would want me to continue on with my life and find joy and happiness and share myself with others. And on a side note, I always wear a little pendant that I got for her several years ago that keeps her close to me. Anyway, thank you. I’m sorry I’m ending up crying, but thank you again for all you do, Anderson.

The joy. The joy will come back into your life. And it doesn’t mean you’re not going to cry. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be sad at times. But but. yeah the joy is there. The joy is out there. You will find joy again. We received more than a thousand voicemails from you, and I’m sorry we can’t include more. There’s some I still haven’t been able to listen to, but I promise I will continue to listen until I’ve heard all of them. I came away feeling so connected to all of you who’ve listened and connected on the deepest possible level. I so agree with what Rose said at the top of this podcast that grief gives you, if you want it to, the gift of vulnerability. And what Claire said about grief, giving her the opportunity to connect on a profoundly deeper level as humans than she ever had before. I feel that so strongly, too. Many of you also said incredibly lovely things about this podcast, and I didn’t include those in your messages because I didn’t want to take away time from the things you were saying that might help others in their grief. But I just do want to thank you for your grace and and your kindness. I don’t know exactly when or if this podcast will return. I hope it does, but I need some time to just think about what that would look like. And I also need to get kind of better at balancing my work life and my home life with my kids. I don’t want to miss a moment of their lives because I’ve waited so long to have them in mine.

I want to leave you with a passage from one of my favorite books, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. He was an Austrian psychiatrist who spent years as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. Frankel was writing about survival and what it takes to survive the worst thing you can possibly imagine. “Most men in a concentration camp,” he wrote, “believed that the real opportunities of life had passed. Yet in reality, there was an opportunity and a challenge. One can make a victory of those experiences turning life into an inner triumph. Or one could ignore the challenge and simply vegetate, as did a majority of the prisoners.” Frankel wrote of his encounter with a woman whose death he witnessed. Days before he’d spoken to her and discovered that despite the misery of her condition, she had, in the words of Frankel, “turned life into an inner triumph, discovering an inner spiritual greatness. It is a simple story,” Frankel wrote. “There’s little to tell, and it may sound as if I’d invented it, but to me it seems like a poem. This young woman knew that she would die in the next few days. But when I talked to her, she was cheerful in spite of this knowledge. I’m grateful that fate has hit me so hard,” she told me. “In my former life, I was spoiled. It did not take spiritual accomplishment seriously. Pointing through the window of the hut, she said, This tree here is the only friend I have in my loneliness. Through that window, she could see just one branch of a chestnut tree, and on the branch were two blossoms. I often talk to this tree. She said to me. I was startled and didn’t quite know how to take her words. Was she delirious? Did she have occasional hallucinations? Anxiously. I asked her if the tree replied, Yes. What did it say to her? She answered. It said to me, I am here. I am here. I am life, eternal life.” And that’s all there is for now. Thank you so much for listening.

All There Is with Anderson Cooper is production of CNN Audio. Felicia Patinkin is the supervising producer and showrunner. Our producers are Lori Galarreta and Rachel Cohn. Sonia Htoon, Audrey Horowitz, and Charis Satchell are our associate producers.

This episode is mixed by Tommy Bazarian. Our technical director is Dan Dzula. Artwork designed by Nichole Pesaru and Jamus Andrest.

With support from Charlie Moore, Jessica Ciancimino, Chip Grabow, Steve Kiehl, Anissa Gray, Francisco Monroy, Tameeka Ballance-Kolasny, Lindsay Abrams, Megan Marcus, Alex McCall, and Lisa Namerow.

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