CNN’s Anderson Cooper Copes With Grief

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While in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami, in which 35,000 of that country’s people perished, CNN reporter Anderson Cooper met a small group of women, each of whom had lost a loved one to the sea. Cooper envied their ability to talk through their pain. “I still find myself unable to do it,” he writes in his new memoir, Dispatches From the Edge. “Walking in this village, listening to these people, is as close as I can come.”

From the outside looking in, it would seem that Cooper has led a life of privilege, not of pain: a child of wealth who grew up in Manhattan’s toniest neighborhoods, the son of successful fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt, and a rising star in the dog-eat-dog world of television journalism. Even so, Cooper seems to identify most with the heart diseaseheart disease has been a lesson to him. Cooper gets his heart checked regularly, along with cholesterol and stressstress tests. He says that he goes through cycles of regular exercise followed by long stretches spent traveling, when he isn’t able to work out at all. His diet follows a similar pattern. When he travels, Cooper says, “Some food can be pretty tough to swallow — literally. I bring Power Bars and canned tuna.”

Nowadays, though, life has slowed down some. Although Cooper still goes where disaster calls him, “the idea of decompressing is new to me in the last several years. I’d always stay in motion. I was always driving fast, always going out at night. But it lessens your creative abilities. Now I go out to my house on Long Island for two days and do nothing.”

He pauses. “I used to be afraid of stopping. Now I have a life, a home, a mortgage.”

And, it seems, a degree of peace.