Speaking Up About Grief: Volume 5

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


Hard to believe this is Volume 5 of Speaking Up About Grief. For those of you regular followers who know what this is all about, skip on down to the celebs we are highlighting this week. For everyone else, I will throw us back to Volume 1 of this series to give you an idea what it is all about:

I am going to clue you guys in on a little secret: Here at WYG, we talk about grief and loss. A lot. In the rest of our society? Not so much . . . Ok, this is not exactly a secret. Death and grief are topics that simply make a lot of people uncomfortable. When I say a lot of people, I mean almost everyone. So we don’t talk about it. Which is just a mean, vicious cycle, because by not talking about it we all become collectively more uncomfortable. You lose someone and you feel isolated, alone, and crazy. You feel like people don’t want you to talk about it, like people want you to get over it, like no one else gets it. Lies lies lies! In real life, thousands of people are right there with you, all keeping their big mouths shut because they’re worried about making other people uncomfortable. Then someone speaks up — someone who people know, who has an audience, who people listen to. They speak up and acknowledge grief. Why? Who knows. Where do they find the courage? No idea. But they do. And it is amazing. Their voices carry. They send the message that grief is normal. It sucks, but it happens. They send the message that suffering in silence and ignoring grief isn’t making us better.

So here we are, four volumes later, constantly amazed by the powerful ways celebrities are talking about death and grief.

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert has never been one to shy away from talking about his experience with death and grief.  After losing his mom, he returned to the show with this tribute to his mom (and though not included in this clip, he ended the show that night with a fake faint on stage, just like his mom taught him!). We love that Colbert felt comfortable enough to offer this tribute on his show, and we especially love his honest discussion about the fact that his mom’s age (92) in no way lessens the incredible pain of her death.

Katie Couric

Katie Couric is another celeb who is not new to talking about loss. Her husband died of cancer in 1998 and, over the years, Katie has raised money for cancer research, done an incredible special with PBS and Sesame Street called ‘When Families Grieve’, and been honest about the deep impact of her husband’s death on her and her kids. We love this Huffington Post interview with Katie talking about many of these topics. We can’t embed the video, so you will have to hop over to the Huffington Post site to check it out.

Music Tributes

When a musician dies the outpouring from fans and the music community can be incredibly powerful. In venues as large as the Grammy’s, we see remembrances of musicians who have died. In individual concerts we see bands paying tribute to their friends and mentors –covering their songs, or singing other songs they loved. Music is a powerful thing – It connects us to people we have lost, it inspires us, and it is the legacy that lives on of the musicians who put these incredible works in the world. Today we wanted to highlight just a few of the many tributes by musicians to those who have died.  We know there are more of these than we could ever begin to include, so we are counting on you to let us know your favorite tributes that we missed by leaving a comment.

Coldplay Tribute to MCA (Adam Yauch) of the Beastie Boys at the show on May 4, 2012
Rosanne Cash’s Tribute to Johnny Cash at CMT Memorial Concert in 2003
Cissy Houston, Whitney Houston’s mom, Tribute to Whitney Houston at BET Awards July 1, 2012
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg Tribute to Eazy E, Tupac, and Notorious B.I.G on tour in 2000 (LOTS OF EXPLICIT LANGUAGE)

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