Anderson Cooper Couldn’t Hold Back Tears While Listening To Stephen Colbert Speak About Grief And Suffering

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CNN anchor Anderson Cooper lost his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, this past June at the age of 95. On that note, he spoke with a very special guest, CBS late-night host Stephen Colbert, on the subject of grief. The lengthy video clips of the entire segment can be found below, but the discussion began with Cooper revealing how strangers come up to him on the street with hopes that he’d find peace within his grief, which he thought was “the most powerful and moving thing.” Cooper then invited Colbert to discuss his own tragic family history, which is almost unfathomable to behold. At the age of 10, his father and two brothers perished in a 1974 plane crash, which left his mother and the rest of the family with a great burden to overcome.

“I was personally shattered,” Colbert explained. “[A]nd then you kind of reform yourself in this quiet, grieving world that was created in the house.” He continued, revealing how his experiences made him more aware of how other people feel after enormous losses, which provides opportunity for human connection. Colbert also believes that the suffering and commiseration help people develop more empathy and grasp what it truly means to be human. That is to say, “[A]ll humans suffer.”

Colbert was one of the sources of empathy for Cooper after his mother’s death. The CNN personality began to read from a letter, which Colbert wrote to him during that period: “You said ‘what punishment of gods are not gifts.’ Do you really believe that?” Cooper’s voice cracked while reading that portion of the letter aloud, and he began to grow teary. “Yes,” replied Colbert. “It’s a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that.”

You can watch their powerful exchanges below.