Anderson Cooper opens up on dealing with grief after death of family members - 'You have to face it at some point'

On the heels of the launch of his new podcast All There Is With Anderson Cooper, the CNN anchor opens up about losing his father, his brother and his mother throughout the years.

Anderson Cooper
(Image credit: Dominik Bindl / Stringer)

While watching Anderson Cooper deliver the news on CNN every night, you’d never guess the 55-year-old anchor has had a pretty tough life.

However, in a new podcast dubbed All There Is With Anderson Cooper, the TV personality opens up about it all, starting with his disposition towards grief and the way he’s dealt with the deaths of his close family members. 

When Anderson was just ten years old back in 1978, his father Wyatt Cooper, a writer in Mississippi, suddenly passed at the age of 50 during open-heart surgery. A mere decade later, Anderson's brother Carter committed suicide at the young age of 23 by jumping off the terrace of their mother Gloria Vanderbilt's 14th floor apartment in New York City. 

Gloria herself, an icon within New York City's cultural scene given her career as an artist, actor and fashion designer, passed at the age of 95 back in 2019. 

The three family members are buried next to each other in the Cooper plot in the Vanderbilt Family Cemetery on Staten Island.

"I just sort of retreated deep into myself," Anderson said to PEOPLE when asked about how he dealt with grief throughout the years. "I didn't talk to people about it. I just became very introspective and introverted."

However, the news anchor explained that the birth of his sons Wyatt, who is now 2 years old, and Sebastian, who is now 7 months old, catalyzed a change in him and spurred him to figure out healthier ways to cope with the sadness.

"I don't want to pass along to my kids any of my own failures or limitations," he said. "I want to be the best parent I can be, and I realized that the way I dealt with loss was effective for the time that it occurred, but that stuff catches up with you. You have to face it at some point. As a result, he revealed that he started opening up about his feelings and, "the more Idid, I learned things that really helped." 

His evolving relationship with grief and the relatively recent passing of his mother also inspired Anderson's new podcast, which he started recording by himself while packing up Gloria's apartment two years after her death.

CNN reports that, while cleaning up the home, Anderson discovered a bunch of notes that Gloria had attached to her belongings hoping for her son to eventually find. The apartment was also filled with objects connected to Anderson's late father and brother.

"I was surprised how lonely I felt as the last surviving member of my immediate family and I discovered that talking with others, who'd moved through grief and spoke the language of loss, was life-changing," Anderson said to CNN. "I'm not going to pretend I don't feel a terrible sense of loss any longer, far from it, but I think about that sadness and grief differently now, and I really hope this podcast will help others as well."

Now available on Apple Podcasts, All There Is With Anderson Cooper will launch new episodes every Wednesday. 

Anna Rahmanan

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.