In an essay for CNN published Wednesday, marking the Season 2 premiere of his grieving podcast "All There Is," Cooper wrote, "I realized a couple months ago that I’ve never really grieved before. … But experiencing loss and actually grieving are two different things."
Cooper's first season of his podcast discussed his journey going through his late loved ones' things. "When the first season of the podcast ended last November, I stopped going through all those boxes. It was just too hard, and I needed a break," he shared.
The reporter capped the Season 1 finale by going through 200 voicemails of listeners sharing their own stories of coping with loss. "There were more than a thousand calls I hadn’t heard, and I felt bad about that. I didn’t plan on doing a second season of the podcast, but a few months ago, I listened to all those unheard messages – more than 46 hours of them. It turned out to be one of the most moving experiences of my life," Cooper shared.
Cooper revealed that hearing those voicemails encouraged him to go through his parents and brother's boxed items once more. In doing that, he recovered an essay his dad wrote more than 40 years ago titled "The Importance of Grieving."
"He wrote about what happens to children when they aren’t able to properly grieve. He quoted a psychologist who said, '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,'" the news anchor recalled, adding that that was his wake up call in realizing that he didn't properly grieve.
"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," Cooper shared. "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.'"
'We all get stuck': Anderson Cooper more vulnerable than ever in new grief podcast
He added, "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."
Season 2 of Cooper's podcast will focus on people who "have found ways to live with their grief and to learn from it," he concluded.
If you'd like to share your thoughts on grief with USA TODAY for possible use in a future story, please take this survey here.
People are talking to dead loved ones – and they can't stop laughing. It's a refreshing trend.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Anderson Cooper opens up about delayed grief, Season 2 of podcast