Celebrity

13 Stars Who Lost Loved Ones Share How Grief Has Changed Their Lives

Jay Godwin - Wikimedia / Celebrity ABC - Flickr

There is no pain like losing a loved one, and losing a spouse is the worst heartache of all.

While we think that celebrities live perfectly happy lives, Hollywood stars live through loss just like we do, and many of them have lost their partners.

But in spite of the pain, these 15 celebrities never gave up on love.

They shared their pain, and the happiness that came after, with the public, and we're glad they did.

1. Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams Heath Ledger
Michelle Williams had a daughter with actor Heath Ledger before his death by overdose in 2008.Gage Skidmore / Howie Berlin - Wikimedia

After The Dark Knight star Heath Ledger died in 2008, his wife and Brokeback Mountain co-star Michelle Williams became a single mother to their daughter, Matilda.

"My heart is broken," the actress said in a statement at the time. "All that I can cling to is [Ledger's] presence inside her that reveals itself every day."

Williams spent several years out of the spotlight, putting Matilda's childhood before her own acting career.

But in 2018, the actress shared the happy news that she had tied the knot again, with musician Phil Elverum. The pair share a tragic bond, because Elverum lost his first wife to cancer in 2015.

Michelle Williams
Williams is happily married again, and still sees Ledger in their daughter every day.Gage Skidmore - Flickr

Williams told Vanity Fair that she "never gave up" on love, but just waited to find the right person again.

"Ultimately the way he loves me is the way I want to live my life on the whole," she revealed.

2. Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson Natasha Richardson
Neeson's wife Natasha Richardson died so suddenly he had no chance to say goodbye.Georges Biard / Wildhartlivie - Wikimedia

The Taken star tragically became a single parent to two teenage children when his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, died following an accident on a ski hill in 2009.

While the actress seemed fine after falling and hitting her head, and even called Neeson from her hotel room, Richardson was already bleeding internally and died before Neeson had a chance to say goodbye.

In a 60 Minutes interview, the Irish actor spoke plainly about the pain of losing his wife:

"It hits you. It's like a wave," he explained. "You just get this profound feeling of instability. The Earth isn't stable anymore and then it passes and it becomes more infrequent, but I still get it sometimes."

While Neeson is rumored to be dating his longtime publicist these days, he says the pain of losing Richardson still lingers.

"Her death was never real," he said. "It still kind of isn't."

3. Patton Oswalt

The King of Queens star and stand-up comedian became a single parent when his wife, writer Michelle Mcnamara, passed away in 2016.

But when the actor remarried to actress Meredith Salenger just 15 months after McNamara's death, he faced a public backlash from fans who said it was "too soon."

Oswalt called his critics "bitter grub worms" and said they were old fashioned, but Salenger was more diplomatic.

She explained that Oswalt had met her "after over a year of intense therapy and openly grieving and dealing with his pain."

"We think of her every day," Oswalt wrote about his late first wife on Facebook. "She's still so tied into our worlds, in a way that's encouraging and energizing... Michelle's gone but she wasn't the kind of soul that disappears or dies out."

4. Lea Michele

Lea Michele Cory Monteith
Michele met and fell in love with her co-star Cory Monteith while filming 'Glee.'vagueonthehow - Flickr

The Glee star lost her boyfriend and co-star Cory Monteith to an apparent drug overdose in 2013, when he was only 31 years old.

Not only did Michele struggle to move on after losing her partner, but she also had to return to work on the set where they had met years earlier. The actress said she drew on her family and co-stars for support.

"I think at a certain point you can choose to sort of fall from this, or you can choose to rise. And that's what I'm just trying to do," she told Ellen DeGeneres.

"Grief goes with you every day, whatever you're doing, when there's great moments, when there's hard moments. So I'd rather, for me, be at work with the people that I love that are going through the same thing."

5. Terri Irwin

Steve Irwin family
Steve Irwin's sudden death left his wife Terri alone with their two children, Bindi and Robert.The Australia Zoo

TV fans around the world mourned the loss of "the Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin after he was killed by a wild stingray in 2006.

But no one was more heartbroken than Irwin's wife, Terri, who was left to raise their two children Bindi and Robert without him.

"I remember him at the airstrip waving goodbye," she shared in a recent interview. "That was the last time we saw him."

"Some days are tougher than others," she admitted to People, "I still really, really miss Steve."

Terri Irwin
Terri Irwin says she has not been on a date since losing Steve in 2006.ABC iView - Facebook

Irwin also says she has not been on a date since her husband's death, saying that she already had her "happily ever after."

Still, Steve Irwin's legacy lives on in the animal conservation work Terri and his children do each day at their family business, the Australia Zoo.

6. Stanley Tucci

Stanley Tucci
Tucci felt guilty for beginning to date so soon after his wife's death.Martin Kraft - Wikimedia

After losing his first wife Kathryn to breast cancer in 2009, the Devil Wears Prada star quickly began dating Felicity Blunt, the sister of actress Emily Blunt.

But while the pair have been together ever since, Tucci has admitted the short time between the two relationships has haunted him through the years.

"It was very hard to go on vacations at first, really hard to go with Felicity someplace... I felt guilty," he told The Times. "It's horrible. You always feel guilty."

Even in 2015, Tucci revealed there there were still photographs of his late wife around his home. "Not that many, but I would have difficulty."

Stanley Tucci Wedding
Tuccie married Felicity Blunt, the sister of his 'Devil Wears Prada' co-star Emily Blunt.Toby Lockerbie

But in spite of his grief, Tucci doesn't regret moving on and finding love with another woman.

"Once my wife passed away I was there by myself and what was I doing?" he explained. "To me this was the healthier option."

7. Betty White

Betty White
White has been married three times, but called her third husband "the best."Angela George - Flickr

The forever young Golden Girls star has been married three times, but it's safe to say her third husband, game show host Allen Ludden, was the love of her life.

In 2015, White admitted to Oprah Winfrey that her biggest regret in life was not getting married to Ludden sooner.

"I spent a whole year, wasted a whole year that Allen and I could have had together, saying, 'No, I wouldn't marry him. No, I won't. No, I won't leave California. No, I won't move to New York,'" she revealed.

"I wasted a whole year we could have had together. But we made it. We finally did."

Allen Ludden Betty White
Ludden was a game show host who died from stomach cancer in 1981.CBS Television

And when Joy Behar asked White if she would make any decision from her career a second time, her answer was the same.

"Marry Allen Ludden. No two ways about that. He was something special."

And, in her own words, White explained why she hasn't remarried since losing Ludden to stomach cancer in 1981.

"I had the love of my life," she told Anderson Cooper, "If you've had the best, who needs the rest?"

8. Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves
Reeves is very private about his personal life, but has known his share of sadness.Anna Hanks - Flickr

The Something's Gotta Give star keeps his dating life very private, but has spoken out in the past about a pair of tragedies that still haunt him.

Reeves and actress Jennifer Syme were expecting a child together in 1999, but their daughter Ava was stillborn.

Just a year and a half later, Syme was driving under the influence when she crashed her car and died instantly.

Jennifer Syme
Syme is buried alongside her daughter in a Los Angeles cemetery.Сигюн001 - Wikimedia

In an interview from 2001, Reeves admitted how painful losing a child and a partner back to back was for him.

"I miss being a part of their lives and them being a part of mine. I wonder what the present would be like if they were here"”what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be," the actor told Parade magazine.

"Grief changes shape, but it never ends. People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, 'It's gone, and I'm better.' They're wrong. When the people you love are gone, you're alone," he said.

9. Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan
Brosnan lost both his first wife and their daughter to ovarian cancer in just a matter of years.Jay Godwin - Wikimedia

In a cruel twist of fate, the James Bond actor lost both his first wife, Australian actress Cassandra Harris, and their daughter, Charlotte, to ovarian cancer in a matter of years.

"To watch someone you love have his or her life eaten away bit by bit by this insidious disease, that kind of sorrow becomes an indelible part of your psyche," the actor shared during a telethon for a cancer charity.

"I held the generous, strong, beautiful hand of my first wife Cassie as ovarian cancer took her life much too soon."

Thankfully, Brosnan fell in love for a second time, with journalist Keely Shaye Smith.

Pierce Brosnan
Brosnan has been married to Smith for 17 years.Pierce Brosnan - Instagram

The actor recently marked his 17th anniversary with Smith, and isn't afraid to share his love for her with the world.

"I found a great woman in Keely Shaye," he told People. "Not if I searched a million times over would I find one as good."

10. Katie Couric

The newscaster recently marked the 20th anniversary of her first husband Jay Monahan's death from colon cancer.

Katie Couric
Couric's first husband died from colon cancer,Katie Couric - Instagram

Since losing him, Couric has become a passionate supporter of cancer charities, and actually founded a number of them too.

Couric is the co-founder of Stand Up 2 Cancer, as well as the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance and the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health.

She even had a live colonoscopy on the air in 2000 to raise awareness for the life-saving tests.

Katie Couric
Couric has devoted her life to supporting cancer charities in honor of her first husband.David Shankbone - Wikimedia

While Couric remarried in 2014, her first husband is never far from her thoughts.

"I hope he would think that the work that I'm doing "“ whether it's in colon cancers or in other cancers, to save future Jay Monahans from experiencing the same fate that he did "“ is worthwhile and important," she told People.

11. Celine Dion

Celine Dion
Dion was married to her manager, René Angélil.Georges Biard - Wikimedia

The multi-Grammy winning singer's relationship with her late husband, her manager and record producer René Angélil, had a controversial beginning.

Dion was just 12 years old when she first met Angélil. But the singer claims he was the love of her life, and says she was in agony watching the final days of his battle with throat cancer.

"For three years my husband did not have a sip of water or food," she said during a recent interview.

"He had a little heart attack; it's so quick, he didn't even feel anything. I thought that he was like liberated from his pain."

Two years after saying goodbye to her husband, and the only man she has ever kissed, Dion says that she is still not ready to move on.

Celine Dion
Dion has been raising her three sons, René Charles, and twins Nelson and Eddy, on her own since losing her husband.Celine Dion - Instagram

"Now, it is definitely too soon for me," she told The Sun. "I am definitely in love with [René,] married to him. He's the love of my life."

"It's very difficult for me to see myself with another person. The love that I have for him, I live it every day. And, as a woman, we do have emotions and feelings that come and go. And it's always with him."

12. Vanna White

Vanna White
White suffered through a painful loss in the late '80s, when her fiance died in a plane crash.Vanna White - Instagram

While she's all smiles hosting Wheel of Fortune, White has known sadness in her life, including losing the man she loved at a young age.

Her fiance, soap star John Gibson, was killed in a small plane crash in 1986.

"It was devastating," White remembered. "But I got such an outpouring of fan mail, and it really did help to know that I wasn't alone."

It took years for white to get her life back on track, as she struggled through several public breakups and a tragic miscarriage in 1992.

Josh Donaldson
White says her longtime boyfriend Josh Donaldson "lets me be me."Vanna White - Instagram

But in 2012, White started dating contractor Josh Donaldson, and said she's finally happy.

"He is kind, understanding and lets me be me," she revealed, saying that she enjoys "the simple life" with Donaldson and her children.

13. Martin Short

Martin Short
Short admits he still "speaks" to his late wife daily.Dominick D - Wikimedia

The Three Amigos star was married to his late wife, actress Nancy Dolma, for 36 happy years before she passed away from ovarian cancer in 2010.

But four years later, the star revealed he was still "speaking" to his wife on a daily basis in his memoir I Must Say.

"In our 36 years together we became so intimately familiar with the workings of each other's minds that I can convincingly play out the conversations we would be having today," he explained.

"I'm still very much married to Nancy," he added.

While Short is quick to point out that these "conversations" are carried on in his head - not out loud - he's not ashamed of them.

"I think this is healthy. I can't stand when the dead are talked about in hushed tones or banished from our thoughts."

Have you lost a spouse or partner? Can you relate to the ways these celebrities reacted to their own loss?

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