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Stephen Colbert Stuns Anderson Cooper With His Emotional Answer On What Suffering Taught Him

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Anderson Cooper sat down with Stephen Colbert recently for a wide-ranging interview that explored the topics of grief and loss. Cooper, who recently lost his mother, got emotional when asking Colbert to explain what he meant when he once said he’d “learned to love the thing that I most wish had not happened” and to ask “what punishments of God are not gifts?”

Colbert, who suffered extreme loss as a child when his father and two brothers died in a plane crash, gave a thoughtful explanation of his views on how suffering forms and ultimately improves us, saying:

“It’s a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that.”

“I guess I’m either a Catholic or a Buddhist when I say those things,” joked Colbert before expounding on what he meant.

“What do you get from loss? You get awareness of other people’s loss. Which allows you to connect with that other person, which allows you to love more deeply and to understand what it’s like to be a human being, if it’s true that all humans suffer.”

Colbert discussed how experiencing tragedy at a young age taught him about suffering and even to be “grateful” for having suffered because it teaches you about other people. He also discussed the loss of his own mother and his realization that wanting to make her laugh again after she lost her husband and sons was perhaps what made him become a comedian in the first place.

“I want to be the most human I can be and that involves acknowledging, and ultimately being grateful for, the things that I wish didn’t happen, because they gave me a gift.”

As a well-known fantasy buff, Colbert even found a way to work in J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord Of The Rings, attributing the quote about “what punishments of gods are not gifts?” to the English author.

Reactions to the clip were swift and passionate, with viewers expressing their appreciation for the two men’s candor about loss and grief.

You can watch the entirety of Colbert’s interview with Anderson Cooper in the two clips below:

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