Stephen Colbert took a break from winning late-night laughs to have a serious and lengthy conversation with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that touched on life, death, faith, grief, suffering, gratitude and “Lord of the Rings.”
At one point, Cooper was brought to tears when he asked Colbert about comments he made on learning to “love the thing that I most wish had not happened.”
Cooper paused to gather himself as he read Colbert’s comments.
“You went on to say, ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ Do you really believe that?” Cooper asked.
“Yes,” Colbert replied after a short pause. “It’s a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that.”
Colbert said suffering allows people to relate to one another.
“What do you get from loss? You get awareness of other people’s loss, which allows you to connect with that other person,” he said, “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.”
The in-depth discussion about grief touched on Colbert losing his father and two of his brothers in a 1974 plane crash when he was 10 ― the same age Cooper was when his own father died of a heart attack. Cooper also spoke about his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, who died in June and the letter he received from Colbert afterward.
“You said ‘I hope you find peace in your grief,’” Cooper said, then described one way he’s found that peace: in the people who approached him online and in person to share stories of their own loss.
“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.”
See the interview in two parts, below: