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Anderson Cooper gives heartbreaking insight into his 'delayed' reaction to Vanderbilt family tragedy

The CNN anchor spoke candidly about his grief as he announced a second season of his podcast, All There Is

Anderson Cooper attends the 16th annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at the American Museum of Natural History on December 11, 2022 in New York City
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz ColonOnline News WriterNew York
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While fans of Anderson Cooper know he has long been open about his family history – from the rise and fall of their wealth to the tragic personal loss – he can admit he has not processed or mourned his losses nearly as much as he'd thought.

The longtime CNN anchor, 56, was only ten years old when his father Wyatt Cooper died aged 51, and 21 when his brother Carter Cooper died from suicide aged 23 in 1988. In 2019, his mom Gloria Vanderbilt passed away aged 95.

Last year, in an effort to further uncover his family's history and his feelings attached to it, the veteran journalist launched a podcast about mourning, All There Is, and though he initially planned to only do one season, he's now confessed he recently came to terms with having much more mourning to do.

WATCH: Anderson Cooper opens up about baby son Wyatt

In an essay penned for CNN announcing his decision to launch a second season of the podcast, Anderson explained: "Experiencing loss and actually grieving are two different things."

Throughout the first season of All There Is, the news anchor spent time going through countless of his family's belongings, and had conversations about grief and loss with varying guests. In his candid new write-up, he shared he'd stopped going through the boxes because it was "just too hard."

However, he then detailed how it was the thousands of voicemails he received from listeners – some of which were included in the final episode – that took him close to 50 hours to listen, that inspired him to continue to explore his grief.

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Describing it as "one of the most moving experiences of my life," he said: "Hearing all those calls – all that pain and bravery and love – awakened something in me that I had buried long ago."

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As he returned to going through his family's boxes, his first and probably most fateful finding was an essay his father had written aptly titled "The Importance of Grieving." In it, Anderson said was a quote from a psychologist that read: "When a person is unable to complete a mourning task in childhood, he either has to surrender his emotions in order that they do not suddenly overwhelm him, or else he may be haunted constantly throughout his life, with a sadness for which he can never find an appropriate explanation."

Actor and author Wyatt Emory Cooper, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, Anderson Cooper, American heiress and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt pose for a family portrait as they play on a bed in their home on March 30, 1972 in Southampton, Long Island, New York© Getty
Anderson, aged five, pictured in 1972 with his mother, father, and brother

"That's me," he then confessed, adding: "That's exactly what I did. When my dad died in 1978, I dug a deep hole inside myself and pushed my fear and sadness and anger down into it. I barely even cried. A decade later, when my brother Carter died by suicide, I pushed those feelings down further."

He continued: "I thought I could keep all that grief buried forever, but it turns out grief doesn't work that way. As one podcast listener said to me, 'It has to go somewhere.'"

Anderson pictured with his mom Gloria Vanderbilt and older brother, Carter Cooper© Getty
The anchor pictured with his mom Gloria and brother Carter at their home in New York

Anderson concluded: "I see now that in burying my grief, I've also buried my ability to feel joy, and I don't want to do that any longer. I can't. I want to feel all there is."

MORE: Anderson Cooper fawns over two sons, details parenting challenges and adorable 'emergency'

The co-parenting couple with their sons lying in a garden© Instagram
Anderson is a doting dad of two

Today, he has carried on his family's legacy through his sons Wyatt and Sebastian, who he shares with ex-partner Benjamin Maisani.

The second season of All There Is, a CNN podcast, is available now wherever you get your podcasts.

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