Friday, May 26, 2006
The lingering power of grief
It's been a really interesting week for me. Surreal, to say the least.

Writing a book can be a very personal act. There are many long hours of staring at a computer screen, many hours with nothing but your thoughts. Then the book is done, and copy editing is complete, and it disappears for a while.

You know it is out there somewhere being worked on by printers and publishers, but you are thankful it is done and use the extra time you suddenly have to catch up on sleep. Then, a few weeks before the book is released, you get your first copy.

It's startling, really, to see your words bound, packaged, printed neatly on a page. But it is still very personal somehow. It is not in bookstores. No one is talking about it. This week, however, all that changed with the release of the book.

On Tuesday, I was on Oprah, and I know a lot of you watched, because many of you have written to me about it. I continue to be amazed by Oprah's talent and was really touched that she had read the book so thoroughly and was so passionate about it. I will sit down with Larry King soon in a program that will air sometime next week. And then more television appearances will follow.

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate all the feedback I've gotten from you on the book. I've already received a lot of letters and emails from people sharing their own experiences of loss and survival. Many of the notes are very moving, and if there is a common thread in them, it is the lingering power of grief, and the determination it takes to get through it.

I wish I could respond directly to all of your notes, but it would be virtually impossible to do so. Please know that I appreciate the many responses you have sent to me via this blog and in other ways. Thank you.
Posted By Anderson Cooper: 12:02 PM ET
  72 Comments
Dear Anderson
I just got your book, and am really touched by it so far. I've never lost anyone close to me so I don't know how it feels, but I think you are very brave to share all of your stories with others. Good Luck with the appearances this week.
Posted By Anonymous Beth, Windsor, ON : 12:16 PM ET
Mr. Cooper,

People in the public eye inevitably become part of our lives. We share in your loss no matter how long ago or how recent they are for you have joined us and humanity is our common thread.

Thanks for sharing your personal story for it brings us another perspective of how complicated, painful, diverse, stressful, challenging, unifying and wonderful lives we have for the taking.

So if I may share my road back to healing after a loss of a loved one... forgiving myself and my dearly departed was the first I took.

And most important of all is to find and nurture new and lasting relationships that celebrates and heals the ones lost.
Posted By Anonymous Waldo P Libertyville, IL : 12:26 PM ET
You're an interesting person, but I wasn't able to pinpoint why I thought so when I first saw you on TV, and I still can't. I had no idea who your family was until I read a piece you wrote about what it felt like to read certain parts of your mother's book. I found your coverage of Hurricane Katrina particularly compelling without knowing you had fan sites or were a "rising star" in the ranks of broadcasting. I liked your work - and still do - before I knew about the intense curiousity about your personal life. Oddly, when I caught on to the media storm of attention that currently surrounds you, I was a bit disappointed - because my first thought was, "they are going to take whatever this engaging reporter has and ruin it with all this attention." I hope that doesn't happen. It must be impossible to remain unaffected by adulation and fame, but I truly hope you will somehow remain accessible and grounded enough to keep being the guy I've loved to read and watch before I became aware you were riding a wave towards stardom. Whatever "it" is, you have it. Don't let the wave wash it away - the feeling people who have wondered where the compassion has gone and then stop, turn, and sit down with renewed interest when you're on the set need you to keep it. Best of luck.
Posted By Anonymous Jeanne, Tampa, FL : 12:30 PM ET
Loving someone deeply after our loss enables us to become whole again.

Peace be with you.
Posted By Anonymous J. Latimer Topeka, KS : 12:33 PM ET
Thank you for sharing your "story cloth" with, not just me, but all of us. It means a lot in so many ways. Thank you Mr. Cooper...
Posted By Anonymous Lyn, West Allis, WI : 12:34 PM ET
So true. I remember going back to work shortly after my brother died. The nightmares, the cold sweats, the inability to concentrate. After about 10 days of distracted thoughts and not so stellar performance, my boss pulled me aside and said "you need to be over it by now."
Its been 12 years and although much less frequent, there are still moments when my breath is quite literally taken away by the enormity of his death and its impact on my life. Thank you for sharing your own story and the stories of countless people across the globe experiencing grief. I hope, in doing so, that the American public will be a little more educated about the grieving process and how profoundly underestimated it is.
Posted By Anonymous Peggy O., Merion, PA : 12:35 PM ET
Hello Anderson,

I am still waiting for my copy to be delivered as I pre-ordered it long ago. I hope you continue to write in the future. You are certainly an amazing story teller and many things that you have already written has touched me in my own personal life and experiences. It is very important that people realize they are not alone in their pain.

Keep up the great work!
Posted By Anonymous Nicki Ferguson, Calgary, AB : 12:40 PM ET
Mr. Cooper, your words have such beautiful texture... the kind of book that makes you want to lick the pages or just inhale them in as deeply as you can so they stick in your cells forever. It was the personal asides that got to me the most... I kept thinking - run, get a highlighter, grab these words jumping out at you - haven't done that since reading John Gardner's Grendel and that was a long time ago. But I didn't want to put the book down so I tried to remember the page numbers for later but soon there were too many pages to remember. So I just inhaled as deep as I could.

Thank you.

Maybe someday you'll write about what happens (happened?) when you finally stand still for more than a moment, close your eyes, and just let the world have its way with you. Hopefully with your globetrotting you have yourself a special somebody to catch you if you fall, and if not... you always have the Clash to fall back on. And the sharks.

Hm, I guess it's rude to ask you to put out another chunk of your soul like that ... so I will leave you with a soundtrack to your book that came to mind as I was reading.

World Leader Pretend - R.E.M.
Scarlover - Maria McKee
Mad World - The Donnie Darko Version
Hungry Like The Wolf - Duran Duran
Texarkana - R.E.M.
Let Down - Radiohead
Send Me An Angel - Real Life
Digging In The Dirt - Peter Gabriel
Ball and Chain - Social Distortion
Brand New Lover - Dead or Alive
So Fast So Numb - R.E.M.
Posted By Anonymous Coco, Ann Arbor Michigan : 12:51 PM ET
Anderson,
Many of your Chicago viewers watching Oprah on Tuesday tuned in at 11:05 pm CST because you were her featured guest. It's your many talents and passions that provide for a terrific read. It's the content of your story and eloquent writing style that is impossible to put down. You deserve 100% credit for the success of her show on Tuesday as well as readership interest in Dispatches. Oprah simply provided her Harpo Studio with the newer couch. You did her the favor, not the other way around.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie, Chicago, IL : 12:58 PM ET
Anderson I think sometimes people in the public eye get placed on a pedistal and we expect perfection from them, right or wrong. All of us have experienced loss at one point or another in our lives. It is very brave of you to share your loss with us. I don't believe it is fair the way the American public places expectations on our public figures, but thank you for showing us you are as human as the rest of us. Personally the field of journalism could use a few more Anderson Coopers. You have shown that it is possible to show compassion and still report the facts. If we don't care about what is going on in the world around us then who will? Thank you for your dedication to informing the rest of us so that we may do something to make our world a better place.
Posted By Anonymous Melina - Mesa, AZ : 12:59 PM ET
I ordered a copy in November and it arrived last night. I finished it this morning after a sleepless night. I loved the analogy of being a shark that must keep moving to stay alive. That hit me like a ton of bricks because I have also wandered the globe constantly and now realize that I have always been looking for a "home" and something to "feel". You will never know how much your book has helped me to face certain truths about my life. Thank you for sharing your story.
Posted By Anonymous Phaedra, Salt Lake City, UT : 1:13 PM ET
Anderson - I finished your book last night, and have to say, you're a brave young man, not only for going to the places you do and seeing and reporting on the things you see there, but for being able to speak and write so openly about it.

You not only have a compelling story, you have a refreshing writing style. I hope this is only the first of many books you write.
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 1:13 PM ET
Hi,

I just hope all the media attention around you and your book doesn't put too much pressure on your integrity and compassion or even worst, forces you to take a vacation !!!!

I can't wait to read it (still waiting for Amazon to deliver it..)
Posted By Anonymous Manon, Longueuil, Quebec : 1:13 PM ET
Sometimes it can be very hard to share your thoughts and feelings to even your closest friends or family, so I feel that it was very brave for you to share them with the entire world. Your book has touched so many, including myself, and though most of us have not experienced many of the things you have, I feel that it's a book everyone can relate to in their own way. Thank you for letting us into a part of your life.
Posted By Anonymous Despina, Charlotte, NC : 1:14 PM ET
Hi Anderson:

I finished your book. Thank you.

I hesitated at the "Katrina" part. I weep at all things Katrina. I am still in shock from my personal losses, especially the loss of my city, New Orleans, and my culture. I really appreciate how you wrote about your time there, how you didn't want to leave. My family thinks I am crazy because I want to go back.

I think some people wanted more personal stuff about yourself, but I respect you so much for not putting your life out there. What you said about yourself was so fitting for this book. I hope you can feel again. The numbness I have felt since August 29 is very overwhelming. I pray for everyone trying to find feeling.

Paige
Posted By Anonymous Paige B., Austin, TX : 1:20 PM ET
Anderson,
There aren't enough words to fill this blog to thank you for your written word. I too have gone through many of the sorrows you have written about. I appreciate that you were able to put it all together in a comprehensive package, namely your book. I always remember the quote my beloved father once said, "If you keep your spirits high, and you can overcome anything." Although at the time I thought he was giving me advice of a totally different nature, it is so clear now.

Thank you!
Posted By Anonymous Kelly, San Francisco, CA : 1:21 PM ET
Having done some writing relating to my own experiences, I know that this can be an incredible means by which a person can face their demons. No matter how many tears are shed during the process, during reliving events through memory, the end result is often like an emotional cleansing. The best thing about facing your personal demons is that in the end you learn that you have the ability to face them, survive them and incorporate them into your life.

Well done, Anderson, well done!
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer Polk, Philadelphia, PA : 1:29 PM ET
I've tried to not get attached to people, animals or places as I know they will be taken away from you one day. I sometimes think more of the dead than of the living... I get through it all by being thankful for having known those people, animals or places. I do not grieve but I remember them all.
Posted By Anonymous Robert, Los Angeles, California : 1:33 PM ET
Anderson,

The book is fantastic. You are one great writer, but we already knew that from your Detail's articles. In your book you talk to each reader on an individual basis, not at them as many writers do.

And by sharing your story and those of the "forgotten people" each person who reads it comes away with a different interpretation, my self included. As I started to read the book I found I had to stop reading after the first 33 pages and come up for air, so to speak, as it was so intense. As I delved more and more into the book I found answers to questions that I had about my own life and things are a bit more clear to me. Grief is one thing we can never really get over, sure we can push it back in our minds and go on with our lives, but one day something triggers it and that overwhelming feeling is back. It is my feeling that we must learn to channel that grief into something worthwhile or as you put it "find your bliss".

Thanks to you and 360 "I have found my bliss" and am channeling all my energies by helping on a political campaign in order to make this country better for all those who need help. It is work I love and is my way of giving back to people I haven't personally met but who have affected my life through your reports.

I hope you will keep giving people the hope they need and the inspiration to find their own bliss. Keep up the good work and remember we will never forget those whom you brought to our attention.

Do you plan on coming back to Michigan (Detroit) you have a lot of admirers in the area and they would love to see you and have you sign their books
Posted By Anonymous Marcia, Warren MI : 1:33 PM ET
Mr. Anderson:

The compassion and love for your mother that was written on your face as she spoke about your brother's unfortunate death was very telling. You are an excellent reporter but more importantly - a loving and supportive son.
Posted By Anonymous Colleen G. Green Bay , WI : 1:41 PM ET
Dear Anderson,

I have just finished reading your book. It is heartbreaking, entertaining, and educational all at once. I had no idea of the situation in Rwanda until I heard you talk about it on your show and read your book. I also enjoyed your interview on Oprah, I think you showed a lot of class when she tried to encourage you to admit to being a child of privilege who does not have to work for a living. Congratulations on a job well done. I hope to be watching you on CNN and 360 for a long time to come.

PS Please come to Canada for a book signing!
Posted By Anonymous Valerie, Montreal QC : 1:42 PM ET
"We are all hanging by a thread. The key is to hold on." Anderson Cooper, Details Magazine. That line has stuck with me, like your questioning why some thrive, and some do not survive.
Thank you so much.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah Shaw, Charlotte, NC : 1:42 PM ET
Anderson,

I recieved my audio book and tried holding out until after I read the book, but they were just calling out to me and I couldn't resist. There's just something about having YOU read the book to me, and Ive felt so many mixed emotions. You had me crying, and laughing, and even suprised! I didn't except you to voice over in an accent! Major kudos for that!

I can't wait to actually see your words and experience a new level of emotions. Keep up the great work!

Grief, and loss are what make us human, and connect us in a way that humbles us. The pain we experience I believe makes us stronger, but our memories of our lost ones must stay alive within us, even if the world around us has forgotten.
Posted By Anonymous Rita, Plainview, TX : 1:44 PM ET
Anderson,
I cannot wait to get your book! Death is something you cannot fully comprehend unless you have experienced it on a personal level. I recently experienced one of the worst personal tragedies ever! I lost my father in October. I am a graduate student and he passed away unexpectedly mid-semester. I had incredible professors that worked with me in finishing the semester. School has taken me away from the reality that my father is no longer with my family. I can say I am still numb to the idea that my father is gone, and I will never see him again. Although it has been 7 months since his passing, I am just now beginning to realize the impact his death has had on me. School is finally complete, and I hope I can finally begin to heal. I look forward to reading your book.
Posted By Anonymous Jessica, Orange County, NY : 1:44 PM ET
Hello Anderson,

Sounds crazy but I bought the book AND the CD. I read a couple of chapters a night and then the next day I listen to the cd up to the point where I stopped in the book. I decided to get both because I've always enjoyed listening to your reports on the show, as with your writing, you have a way of drawing in the viewer and really making them feel what you're saying. Your voice-overs are great and it was worth it just to hear your voicing of Chris, the guide in Sri Lanka! So far, as expected, the book is moving and visceral, the description of the power of the tsunami was frightening and the grief of family members who lost their loved ones is heartbreaking. I'm certain that "Dispatches" is a book that I will read more than once. Congratulations on its release.
Posted By Anonymous Fay, Vacaville, CA : 1:47 PM ET
Enjoy the praise - The book was really good - I couldn't put it down - You have what we call in the South, a brave heart.
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl Raleigh, NC : 1:48 PM ET
Hi Anderson,
Riveting, riveting book. I finished it in 7 hours and didn't want it to end. I appalaud you and your producers for all the work you do to bring important and relevant stories to our attention. At times, I do feel "my heart is too full" (to borrow one of your quotes) with all the ills and evils in the world. How do you stay sane with all that you've seen? I know those who need our help "don't want our sympathy. They want us to do our best." How do we as ordinary citizens of this priviledged country do our best to help and honor those less priviledged than us? Monetary aid alone doesns't seem to cut it. I was affected when even Ophrah said she feels she needs to do more.
Posted By Anonymous Ellen, San Francisco, CA : 1:50 PM ET
Thank you Anderson for "Dispatches from the edge", I finished it yesterday evening! Remember, just like your childhood globe, there is a dark edge we all travel to but there has always been the light on the other side and one day the light will surround us. What a beautiful day that will be! May you continue to bless us with honesty the truth you find on your journeys. Peace and Love be with you!
Posted By Anonymous Paula Hallmark, Austin, TX : 1:51 PM ET
I have yet to read your book, but I just (literally) read your article in the June issue of Vanity Fair. I've always had such a difficult time coping with my issues in life. Whenever people would say 'Well you know things could be worse' I would always feel like they were trying to demean or belittle my problems in a way. I try to read articles, books, everything on people who have been through extremely hard times and persevered to remind me of how good I have it sometimes. Even then, it's still hard. I think that's most persons' problem, thinking that life is supposed to be easy. I love what your mother said about having a diamond inside her. I wrote it down to put in my book of quotes I collect. I have a younger sister, she just turned 21. She's my only sibling, and we've only recently gotten close over the past 2 or so years (we have a four year age difference). I read what you wrote about your brother, and I wonder that myself sometimes, how close are we really? How well do I know the person she is, and not just her as my sister? I have never experienced the loss of a family member, and it scares me so much when I think about how I would react in a situation like that. My friends always tease me and say that I carry humanity's sadness on my shoulders. I always say I have a love/hate relationship with the world; I don't understand anything, I don't understand people, the way we treat each other. Sometimes all I feel is disgust towards humankind. But you, and people like you, help to remind me that there is some good in this world, and despite all the bad, it's still worthy of love. I know this will get lost in a sea of comments, but I hope it makes a difference to you, even for a moment, just so you know how great an impact ONE person can have. Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous TRIW, Fort Lauderdale, Florida : 2:06 PM ET
It must be a relief that the book is done and finally in stores, but I imagine it might be a bit scary as well. I just received my copy today and I can't wait to read it this weekend.

It's true that the loss of a loved one lingers. It doesn't matter how it happened or when it happened. I have not lost a parent or sibling, but I do know the loss of a loved one. My granddaddy died 10 years ago this year, 5 months before the birth of his first great grandchild, 3 months before my college graduation, 2 days shy of his 81st birthday and a day after a stroke. He wasn't young and he lived a full and a long life, but his passing was unexpected and really hit hard. There's not a holiday or a birthday that goes by that I don't think of things he would have done or said on that particular occasion. When I think about it being 10 years, it just doesn't seem that long ago.

Anyway, I wish you great success on your first book and I hope to see more of your work in print in the future.
Posted By Anonymous Marian, Franklin, TN : 2:15 PM ET
Dear Anderson:

Thank you for sharing your memoirs with me/us.

I admire your work and the compassion you show towards people.

If there is anything I�ve learned from your memoirs and stories, is how to be compassionate towards people, have passion in the work you perform and most of all follow your bliss...

Congratulations, on your book release.

Warm wishes,
Posted By Anonymous Vicki, Long Island, NY : 2:20 PM ET
You are a wonderful author as well as a reporter. The way you write about your experiences, makes me feel like I was right there with you seeing all the death and poverty. I believe all of your travels and experiences have made you the great person you are now.
Hopefully some day you will be able to find the answers you are looking for as to Carters death.
Posted By Anonymous Jean, St. Charles, Mo. : 2:31 PM ET
Anderson,

Thanks for making it a point to let us know you read our comments. You read them and make revisions; like when people said they'd break their necks to get home to watch AC360 and you wouldn't be on...we've all done that! But then I noticed you announced shortly after that comment that the next day you'd be gone. So you continually show us that you listen and really do care what we say!

Lisa
Posted By Anonymous Lisa V, Des Plaines, IL : 2:47 PM ET
Thanks Anderson,
I'm looking forward to reading your book and the interviews that you'll be doing. My life too, has been touched in that unreal way. When I was 3, a house fire killed my 2 sisters and when I was 11, my brother, 4 years and 27 minutes older, drown.About 4 years ago (I'm 53), I went back to the house where the fire was. The same guy who bought it after it was repaired still lived there. As I talked to him, it was the first time that I vocalized that my whole family from that time is gone. My parents had 3 more kids, but thier divorce really tore apart any sense of family that I might have had. Keep doing what you do, I admire your courage. And you are so not a wimp!! Reverand whats his name may be able to bench some weight, but you have benched so much more in life.
Posted By Anonymous Jack Burns, Olmsted Twp, Ohio : 2:47 PM ET
Do you mean to tell me you don't want to give up a highly successful and lucrative career to respond to each and every piece of fan mail you get?

Imagine that!

I'm glad you came out with your brother's story (and all your other stories too, but especially your brother's). Oprah handled the whole interview with the dignity and tact I've grown to expect from her, and you and your mother presented yourselves with composure and grace. But then, what else should we have expected? You're Vanderbilts after all. ;)

You rock, Anderson. You just sooo rock!

How does one go about getting an autographed copy?
Posted By Anonymous Marisol, Aurora, Colorado : 2:51 PM ET
Hi Anderson, I have read your book and also have the CD version and will listen to that when I have the time.
I have had very little loss in my life so I haved not walked in the shoes of those who have. I can only imagine how much a book like yours would help others.
There is a beautiful child in you who became lost after your fathers death, and is now found and is free.
If you care to dig into the deeper meaning of life, you will find it is all about feeling. It thrills me that you have been able to mesh the feeling with your reporting. Therapeutic, isn't it?
Posted By Anonymous Judy Stage Brooklyn MI : 2:52 PM ET
Anderson,

It feels like a group hug moment in here. I haven't gotten to read the book yet; payday is next week and I think a little book treat is in store for me. Just wanted to say (again) what an inspiring person you are to all of us. Before you took over CNN, my best friend and I couldn't wait for hurricane season just so we could see you tethered to hotel balconies.

Thanks again.
Posted By Anonymous Rhonda, Chapel Hill, NC : 2:57 PM ET
Anderson - I( watch CNN bevause of you and your delivery & humanism. Hope you're reading this CNN.
Posted By Anonymous Bob Starnes Riverside, CA : 2:59 PM ET
You just keep doin' your thang, man. We'll keep watching.
Posted By Anonymous Louis, Kansas City, MO : 3:00 PM ET
Anderson,

Thanks for this post on the blog :) We depend on correspondents like yourself to keep us informed and would rather you spend your valuable time doing what has drawn so many of us to you! Looking forward to seeing your segment on LKL.

Wishing you continued success and much deserved bliss....Laura
Posted By Anonymous Laura, Athens, GA : 3:02 PM ET
Anderson,

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. The power of the written word is amazing. By just telling your story you have helped countless people cope with their own personal loss. How brave you are to share your demons with the world. Its such a personal story and is written so beautifully.

I lost my grandmother several years ago. She was my best friend in the world. After her death I had such vivid nightmares. It was very hard to cope with her loss. She died before my wedding. I'm still so sad that she never had the joy of meeting my husband and my beautiful daughter. You are so right when you said that loss is the tie that binds us together.

Congratulations on the book! Have a wonderful holiday weekend!
Posted By Anonymous Annette L., Alpha, NJ : 3:02 PM ET
I love the way you interwove the past and present in your book. If you can't look back at your life and learn from the past then we'd all be pretty hallow people. You seemed to have answered some questions for yourself but have left others open. I'm sure I'm not the only one that hopes you continue on writing and sharing with us your lessons learned.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Tampa, Fl : 3:08 PM ET
Anderson,
I just finished reading your book and all i can say is wow!! It was such a great read. You are such an amazing writer. It was as if i was there. I hope that this will not be your last book that you write. Congrats on the book!!!
Posted By Anonymous Sylvie, Ontario, Canada : 3:11 PM ET
Dear Anderson: Your book really made me face my grief head-on; I've been pretty much numb for the past year, since my husband died of coronary artery disease--at the young, very young, age of 42. He left behind, not only me, but our two beautiful daughters, and by beautiful, I mean inside AND out. As you indicate in your book, keeping busy, constantly moving, is what you have (and, seem to be currently)been doing. Well, I finally got off of the "rollercoaster" I was on after the first anniversary hit me, this past February. It was then that I realized that, wow, this is real, and I need to take time to actually face up to this tragic loss. I left my tutoring job, and now focus all of my energy on my two daughters. As they are only in 3rd and 5th grade, they are definitely benefiting from me being home; I can see the difference in their attitude and school performance (as if school performance really in these low grades really counts towards Harvard, but you'd be surprised at how many of my peers put so much pressure on our kids today at such a young age!). It's very sad that you and your brother couldn't have become closer, but, you must know, from where he is now, he is closer to you in your heart, than ever before! My daughters are very close, and I feel they have really given each other strength over this past year and a half; they amaze me with their strength and continued zest for life! They are my strength as well. I keep asking why God did this to my daughters (as well as me), and to give me a sign that something positive lies ahead for us, and, then my 5th grade daughter's teacher called me this morning with a wonderful thing my daughter had done for a fellow classmate. Apparently, her classmate's condo building burned down last night, and she and her mother lost everything. Anyway, their class held a meeting on ways to raise funds and also any other ideas to help this classmate. My daughter suggested purchasing a teddy bear at a place called "Build-A-Bear" that we have out here in the Chicagoland area, maybe they're all over, but in any case, it's a place where you pick out the animal, have it stuffed, even a "heart" put inside it, name it, clothe it, etc. Amanda (my daughter) told her classmates that it really comforted and helped her when she received one after her dad (my husband) died last year. The teacher just wanted me to know that Amanda came up with the first idea, and it was welcomed by everyone. As horrific as the death of their dad, my daughters will be much more compassionate, tolerant individuals, and truly able to sympathize and emphatize with other people and their suffering. It has made you the same way, so your dad is also with you in your heart. I mentioned in my blog yesterday, but, I'm sure you don't have time to read them all, you would be a great guest speaker/moderator at one of our support group meetings. My daughters and I attend a support group through an organization called "Willow House" out here in the Chicago Northwest suburbs. It's based in Northbrook, but they have two chapters, one which we attend in Arlington Heights every third Thursday of the month. It's just a shame it only meets once per month, because the benefits have been tremendous for us. Thank you for sharing your story and the stories of other people; you are their voice, and for that, you must be commended. Sincerely, Lisa Brown
Posted By Anonymous Lisa E. Brown, Buffalo Grove, IL : 3:19 PM ET
Anderson,

Thank you so much for penning your experiences and sharing them with us. I read the VF excerpt and will be purchasing your book this weekend. With everything happening in the world, I can not begin to express my gratitude for your coverage of Bay St. Louis/Waveland, MS during Katrina. (Otherwise known as "Ground Zero" to us locals!) With no fear and a touch of class, your broadcasts were our windows to our hometown. As we sat glued to the television as evacuees in Austin, TX, you provided excellent coverage with the compassion to understand and convey the losses of so many. I was able to see you in New Orleans while riding on a Mardi Gras float. I can not tell you how happy I was to see you enjoying your time. You blog posting that described your ride on the float made my heart smile! Please keep up the excellent work you are doing.

Michelle
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, Bay St. Louis, MS : 3:48 PM ET
I have admired your work, especially during Katrina. I knew nothing about you personally until seeing you on Oprah talking about your book. What you said about both you and your brother searching for "feeling" but coping in different ways and how it led you to journalism was very moving. My son lost his older brother nine years ago in a car crash and is still struggling to recover. I also admire your mother and understand her statement that "there is never closure" with such a loss. For a long time when I got in the car I didn't want to buckle up....what's the point? Then, like your mom, I realized I had to be here for my other son. Thank you for your story and your excellent reporting. Best wishes to you and your mom.
Posted By Anonymous Sherrie King, Batesville, AR : 3:53 PM ET
Hi Anderson

i read this blog everyday but this is my first time posting a comment.
Congrats on your book!!! Will get my copy as soon as it's available at the borders close to me.
You are an outstanding reporter & gentleman who is not afraid to show his emotions. Your compassionate stories have made me more aware that i need to make a difference in society.
Thank you for shedding some light on the plight of Africans(i'm proud to be one & legally resident!!).
Thanks also for showing your viewers that you listen & care about what we say!!
You are truly inspirational.Hope you have a wonderful birthday & may God bless & keep you.

Ope
Posted By Anonymous Ope , Baltimore, MD : 4:15 PM ET
I just finished your book and have to say you are not only a great reporter but a great author. I am a huge fan and have been for quite awhile now and am hoping there are more books from you in the near future.

The book was very moving.

Great job and keep up the great work you do.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon, Windsor, Ontario, Canada : 4:16 PM ET
Well, well. So now you've gone and had a book published. Haven't read it yet, just the blog and comments. The Oprah interview is still in the VCR, unseen. Busy week for me also. ("AI" and "Lost" come first. Priorities, you know.) You seem determined to overcome your childhood. Good for you and good for us lesser knowns too but I must tell you that the real common thread among us is not the experience of loss and survival, it is the experience of life and the acceptance of living it in its truest sense. That, my friend, is what it's all about..... Maybe your next book?
Posted By Anonymous B. R. Cash, Atlanta, GA : 4:20 PM ET
Dear Anderson:

Thank you for sharing your story in the recent Vanity Fair magazine. I found the article very gripping after losing a grandmother, uncle and two cousins to suicide. Alone, we all come to terms with our grief, and it is hard to not seek answers that are not given. Your brother would be proud of your humanitarian efforts. I have always admired your mother's artistic talents, especially her compositions of objects and materials. I wish you continued success with your career. This Memorial weekend I plan on purchasing your book! Sincerely, Saundra Clark, Lake Oswego, Oregon
Posted By Anonymous Saundra Clark, Lake Oswego, Oregon : 4:45 PM ET
Dear Anderson,

I don't choose to communicate via blogs, however, after reading your book, I felt compelled to respond to this one. Thank you for writing such a touching,and captivating book. I found that I'd have to stop reading for a few minutes to catch my breath and absorb what I'd just read. Thank you for sharing a very private journey in a very public forum. You mentioned that grief has a lingering effect. My Dad passed away 20 years ago and I still miss him. Experiences of today bring memories of things we did together or of things he said and tears still flow. Through your grief, you have a deep sense of compassion to and empathy for those people whose stories you tell. I admire you and your Mom for having the courage to speak on Oprah's show of your losses. My thoughts are with you both. Please continue to use your gift to tell the stories that you do. Good luck to you.
Posted By Anonymous Heather Edmonton, AB, Canada : 4:48 PM ET
Your book is an incredible account of a life well-lived...so far. Loss is a part of life, however such great loss at a tender age is life defining. Having lost my mother at the age of nine, I truly relate to others who have suffered such agony, suvived it and emerged from their grief forever changed. I believe that such loss gives us a true clarity of purpose as we reach adulthood. We know that life is frighteningly brief, precious and not to be wasted. I would never wish this trauma of loss on anyone, however, I cherish the lessons I have learned and the person I have become because of my mother's passing. I believe that much of what defines me as a human being has its origins in that event. After reading your book, it is clear that such is the case with you. Thank you for a wonderful read, may you continue along your chosen path with the graciousness and integrity that have been your hallmark thus far. I will continue to watch and trust.
Sincerely,
Anne
Posted By Anonymous Anne, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada : 5:02 PM ET
Anderson,

The appreciation you express in todays blog, actually should be reversed. Those of us who love honesty, humility and an overwhelming desire to change the world for the better, appreciate you and all you represent.

As in the "Good, the Bad and the Ugly" it is often difficult to see all the decent, understanding people in this world. When we find these people we know they have earned all they are given in return.

You have so much power, Anderson. Keep using it for the betterment of humanity.

TC&SS
"Mags"
Posted By Anonymous Maggie, G.V., Mo. : 5:11 PM ET
Grief is never fully understood unless you have first-hand experience.

This year, I almost lost my 12 year old son in a pedestrian accident with a car. He was run over, passed clear through the middle of the car between the wheels, without touching anything. He suffered some cuts/abrasions and he was very lucky.

Although he was perfectly fine, I found myself in a depression that I have never experienced ever (I�m 41 yrs old), even though he was alright. It only lasted 2-3 days, but it was like he really died. That is what I kept thinking and had to remind myself that he was ok.

I found my thoughts going to the idea of how to carry on if he was really gone? It was like I could not go on without him.

How could I feel this way? I also have a 6 year old daughter. I need to live for them. How could I even think of any alternative?

The grief was very powerful even though Nick was in great shape. Like I say, you need to be there to understand, which you do.

I never thought this kind of almost-a-fatal-accident could impact me so terribly.

Two things I have learned so far, from a divorce and through this experience above, is that 1) no matter how wealthy or educated, we are all just one step away from complete disaster and 2) grief does have to be worked through, or it will come back to haunt you, even take over your life, which I think I sort of experienced.

Looking forward to reading your book! I love your writing!

Jayne in Michigan
Posted By Anonymous Jayne, Harper Woods, MI : 5:18 PM ET
It's really nice to get a thank you from you and nice to know you really do read these posts on the blog. Thanks again for the book. Truly amazing. I am telling everyone I encounter to go get it.
Posted By Anonymous Rachel-Albuquerque, NM : 5:19 PM ET
Well, that summarized it very well. The lingering power of grief and the determination one has to have to get through it.

You know they say that even little actions that a person takes or minor influences in your youth can have a dramatic impact on your life and you may not realize it until way later. We (and others) many times don't want to accept and realize that dramatic events, especially those tragic in nature, are going to impact you. The sooner you realize this and try to understand it, and come to terms with the events the better. Although, that is easier said than done. Much easier said than done. Only you can do this and you alone and sometimes that is a monumental feat.
Posted By Anonymous Mary H. St. Louis, MO : 5:21 PM ET
I lost my grandma when I was 13. She was my best friend. She loved to bring me along everywhere she went. She passed away after being hospitalized for about a month. Since then, I seldom talked about her.
Reading your book brought back my memories of her. Did I try to push it away as well?

Thanks Anderson.
Posted By Anonymous Chew, Houston TX : 5:31 PM ET
Awww, you're welcome!

I think the amount of feedback you've gotten from those like myself are just a testament to the fact that you come across so approachable and honestly interested in people's reactions to what you say and think. You really seem to want to reach out and connect with people, and it shows, and so that's exactly what ends up happening. So though you may never see any of us, we're all here and we're all your friends!

Thanks for taking the time to let us know you appreciate the feedback. Just another example of you being you!
Posted By Anonymous AM, Piscataway, NJ : 5:32 PM ET
Hi Anderson,

I just completed reading your book. WOW, I could not put it down. Your way with words pulled me right into each and every event you were describing. And I tried to imagine how I would feel if I found myself in a similar situation and how it would effect the things I had done so far in my life. I wept as I finished the last chapter. Wept for the loss in your life, and wept for the loss in my own. I lost both of my parents tragically to cancer at very young ages. My beautiful parents that I still try to find the answer to the question of...why? I am thankful for each and every day that I had with them, and hope that they are looking over me and are proud of the person that I have become. Just as I am sure that your dad and brother are proud of the kind hearted person that you are!

Looking forward to seeing you on everything you have coming up in the future.

Oh, just one more thing...no pressure or anything, but I'm ready for your next book!

Well done Anderson!
Posted By Anonymous Suzanne, Esopus NY : 5:34 PM ET
Congratulations on your new book. I have not read it yet, but this is on a list to do. I just read part of your interview on the Border's web site and saw part of your Oprah shows [recent and past]. I felt compelled after just reading your first answer on the Border's web site to write you.

I just want to let you know, as others have already done, you are a truly remarkable, gifted young man, who has it right. I wish you continued success. You have maturity beyond your years and CNN, as well as all media news personnel, are better served by your position and presence. You are a standard, which is missing in today's news media profession.

Be safe and continue your honesty with all that is happening to you at this moment.
Posted By Anonymous George Bickford, Chicago, Illinois : 5:40 PM ET
Grief is a powerful gift we as human beings have in order to let ourselves feel at peace after a tragedy.
Posted By Anonymous Lauren, Denver Colorado : 5:41 PM ET
Just purchased your book and found a quote from my son-in law, Captain Casey Geist while you were in New Orleans. Wondered if I purchased a book and sent it to you if you would autograph it? I know it would mean a great deal to him. He felt you were truly interested in getting to the truth about what was going on in the Superdome.
Posted By Anonymous Bunny Taylor, Louisville, KY : 5:43 PM ET
I bought the book this morning and dove into your world. What a beautiful book. I hope you plan to write more! Carla
Posted By Anonymous Carla New Bern NC : 5:56 PM ET
Mr. Anderson,
Your comments coupled with your compassion is original to the media business. As a former member of the media, I understand it is usually an uncompassionate and cut-throat business of personal agendas. I believe people enjoy your commentary because you explore the story as humanly as possible without seeing like a telecasted robot. Thanks for your honesty and integrity in the news media.
Posted By Anonymous Frank, Anchorage AK : 6:06 PM ET
There isn't a right way to handle grief which works for everyone. We all do so in different ways.

For me, it's taking one day at a time, focusing on the present. Sometimes, it even means going minute by minute, or even second by second, but the goal is to survive and move ahead, never forgetting the past, but shaping it in my mind to challenge the future.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 6:28 PM ET
Anderson,
I hust finished your book. I bought the audio book. I must tell you that your book has touched my soul. I started it Wed afternoon and Thursday after I came home from work .I sat for 4 straight hours listening to you narrate the written word. It was like I could not stop listening I could not move from my chair, I was so intrigued by what I was hearing. Wed evening I had American Idol on but couod not break away from your book to watch it. I did see the last 15 minutes of it. I could not wait to get off from work the next day to finish it I sat there listening to you speak and thought about my own life. I have lost both of my parents. My dad will be dead 22 years on May 31. My mom passed away 2 years April 6. I want you to know something. The reporting you do does make a difference. You may not have been able to save your brothers life but know you have saved mine. Last summer I was out of work and when Katrina hit in Aug I watched you every day. I needed a lifeline and you were that for me. All I thought about everyday was going to heaven and being with my mom and dad. I would listen to you and that gave me hope. I felt like I had no one, I am an only child. Before my mother died I asked her to let me know in some way that she was here. Every nite when I go to bed and turn the light out there is a lighted cross on my ceiling. It only appears at night, and this cross has been appearing since my mom died. I know she is in heaven looking down on me. I know my dad is as well. Just know that your fatherand your brother are angels in heaven looking down on you. Your father and brother may not be here in the flesh but are here in spiritIfeel my mom and dad all around me. This is a great comfort to me. I sometimes sense that you think that the job you do is never good enough. I want to tell you not to be so hard on yourself. Your father and brother would be so very proud of you and your accomplishments. You have a lot of great people wholove and respect you. Accept the praise you receive you deserve it. I am planning on attending the book signing in VA on June 7. I would like very much to meet you and thank you in person.
Posted By Anonymous Terrie Ford Colonial Heights,VA : 6:42 PM ET
Hi Anderson,

I want to give a warm thank you for sharing with me your personal experiences. I've skimmed through most of the comments, and you know what's better than reading praise after praise?

Hearing it minute after minute at your book signing. But what's better than that?

Having someone fly from Vancouver, Canada, to express appreciation in person.

See you in New York,

BERNICE WONG
Posted By Anonymous Bernice Wong, Vancouver, BC : 6:57 PM ET
I normally don't respond to blogs, but I just finished your book. WoW!! What a great read. I can honestly tell you that it is the best book I have ever read. When I finished it I was upset because I didn't want it to end. I love your show on CNN and you are the only reason I watch CNN. My husband serves in the military and has been deployed to Iraq twice. I usually don't want to watch the reports on the news because I am not sure what to believe, however I did watch the reports you did because I knew they would be true and honest. I feel like I have been growing with you throughout your career. The fist time I saw you I in the seventh grade and watching Channel One. You should be very proud of yourself and all your success. I did catch you on the Oprah show. I must admit I had no idea who your family was or the story of your personal loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your mother. Just wanted to write and thank you for being brave and sharing such a special part of yourself through your book and through your reporting. I hope this isn't the one and only book we will see from you. Keep doing what you do. You do it the best! Best wishes and congrats on the book.
Posted By Anonymous Christy Smith, Fort Stewart, GA : 7:03 PM ET
I can't even imagine writing all of what you've faced in your past on paper for all the world to read and, even more, talking about it candidly on television. That alone deserves tremendous praise. Thank you for putting yourself out there in the first place.
Posted By Anonymous Pooja, Iselin, NJ : 7:04 PM ET
Hi Anderson -

I just finished your book and was extremely moved. My father passed away when I was 13 and I saw so much of myself in the pages of that book. The line that sttod out to me the most was "Everyone could have seen that, like a broken locket, I only had half a heart." I completely understood that.

It is not easy to open up and reveal the truth that is deep down inside - so personal, so raw. I truly admire you for taking that step, and so many people will be better off because you did. Thank you so much for opening my eyes to so many things I needed to see. May God bless the souls of all of our loved ones and also all of those who shall forever remain nameless. It will be a glorious day when we are all together again!
Posted By Anonymous Victoria Monaca, PA : 7:46 PM ET
Hi Anderson -

I am one of the many people who wrote to you recently. Thank you for acknowledging all of us who care about you. You continue to amaze and inspire me with your sincerity. Thank you for being such a beacon of light for those of us who look up to you.
Posted By Anonymous Brian, Chicago IL. : 8:20 PM ET
Anderson - I love your book. You're such a great writer. It really makes the reader feel like they're actually there experiencing it. I also love how you stick with a story like Katrina. Most reporters keep moving on to newer stories not really putting much thought or emotion into them. It's the same with a lot of viewers. Once the reporters move on they figure it's not a problem anymore. Or if it's not front page news it's not worth reading. Keep up the great work!
Posted By Anonymous Laura, Greenville, IL : 8:54 PM ET
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