Celebrities Speaking Up About Grief: Volume 11

Books, Movies, and Music / Books, Movies, and Music : Litsa Williams


For those of you who have been holding your breath waiting for our next installment of our Celebrities Speaking Up About Grief series, my deepest apologies.  I know, I know. There is no excuse for letting four months pass between posts. But until I see something that really grabs me, sometimes these posts get pushed to the back burner. Luckily, in the last few weeks I have felt moved and inspired by several celebrity grief pieces… so #11 is here to make its debut!

Sufjan Stevens (On Grief and the Death of His Mother)

A friend of mine, who is obsessed with Sufjan Stevens (and when I say obsessed, I mean it took all my restraint not to put the word in all caps) shared this incredible article with me about the new Sufjan Stevens album. Stevens’ mom abandoned his family at a young age as she struggled with mental health and substance issues. Her death spiraled Stevens into a unique grief that he didn’t expect, considering their distant and strained relationship. His new album, Carrie & Lowell, centers around the death of his mom.  In his words:

“With this record, I needed to extract myself out of this environment of make-believe. It’s something that was necessary for me to do in the wake of my mother’s death—to pursue a sense of peace and serenity in spite of suffering. It’s not really trying to say anything new, or prove anything, or innovate. It feels artless, which is a good thing. This is not my art project; this is my life.”  

The interview is honest and interesting, even if you don’t decide to pick up the album. 

Philip Conors (On Grieving His Brother’s Suicide)

Just yesterday, Fresh Air featured an interview with the author Philip Conors on the loss of his brother, who died by suicide. In his recent book, All the Wrong Places: A Life Lost and Found, Conors reflects on his relationship with his brother and the complex of emotions of guilt and grief that plagued him over the years.  I have not yet read the book, but needless to say, it has now been added to my list! You can read the interview highlights (or listen to the full interview) here.

Grief at the Oscars

There were a lot of poignent moments at the Academy Awards this year, and one thing we were especially glad to see were moments opening a greater awareness around…

Suicide

Dana Perry brought awareness to suicide, accepting her award on behalf of Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1.  She is quoted in this article saying:

“I lost my son… We need to talk about suicide out loud to try to work against the stigma and silence around suicide because the best prevention for suicide is awareness and discussion and not trying sweep it under the rug.”

Alzheimer’s

Julienne Moore’s film, Still Alice, brought awareness to Alzheimer’s and, specifically, early-onset Alzheimer’s.  In her best-actress acceptance speech she says:

 “So many people with this disease feel isolated and marginalized… And one of the wonderful things about movies is they make us feel seen and not alone.”  

More on the awareness this film has brought here.


Bullying and Suicide

Last, but certainly not least, Graham Moore also used his speech to bring attention to bullying and suicide which we thought was pretty awesome.

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