Footage of comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper discussing grief has gone viral, with many hailing the pair for their real and raw exchange.
The conversation was part of a recent showing of Anderson Cooper 360°, which aired Thursday, and was later tweeted from the show’s official account. As of Saturday morning, the clip had been viewed eight million times.
Sitting across from each other on the set of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the portion of the segment posted online begins with Cooper reading a comment made by Colbert in a previous interview.
“You told the interviewer that you have learned to, in your words, ‘love the things that I wish had not happened,” Cooper says.
Choking back tears, Cooper continues: “You went on to say, ‘what punishments of gods are not gifts.’ Do you really believe that?”
The Washington, D.C.-born comedian simply replies with a “yes,” adding that “it’s a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that.”
The two TV personalities both suffered loss early in life. Colbert’s father and two of his brothers were killed in a plane crash in 1974, when he was aged 10.
Cooper was also 10 years old when his father died of a heart attack. When he was 21 years old, Cooper’s brother died by suicide.
Colbert goes on to clarify that his view on loss is a paraphrase of a quote originating from J.R.R. Tolkien in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ – a series of novels Colbert read as a young boy.
The rest of the segment includes the pair discussing what Colbert calls the “normal grief” he felt alongside his eight siblings after his mother died at the age of 92.
“It might seem selfish to want more of someone you’ve known so long, but it merely amplifies the enormity of the room whose door is now so quietly shut – like you can’t ever open that door again,” he says.
“But on top of that we realize, ‘oh, now we also lost dad and the boys. In some ways we were here for her because of the loss of her husband and her children, and when she went she kind of took them with her,” he continues, adding that his mother’s death led him to re-grieve.
You said "what punishment of gods are not gifts. Do you really believe that?" @andersoncooper, choking back tears, asks Stephen Colbert, as they discuss grief.
"Yes," replies the comedian. "It's a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering. There's no escaping that." pic.twitter.com/p5rUUhZKxq
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) August 16, 2019