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Health & Balance

CNN's Anderson Cooper Copes With Grief

The famous journalist has made a career of tracking grief around the globe while drowning out his own feelings of loss – until Hurricane Katrina.
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Living With Grief continued...

"I wanted to know why some survived and some didn't," he says.

After reporting from Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, Cooper had seen enough death. He took a job as a correspondent for ABC, working mostly in the United States, "which was fine by me," he writes. "I needed to stop searching the world for feeling. I needed to find it closer to home."

And find it he did, with Katrina. After returning from New Orleans to New York, he spent the next five months writing the book. Monday through Friday, he wrote from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., then went to CNN, where he worked until midnight. He went to sleep at 2:30 in the morning. When he woke up, he'd start again. On weekends, he wrote nonstop.

"I wanted to get it all out before I forgot it," he says. "It was a hard thing to write. ... I stayed focused on the sentences, how the words go together -- all very clinical. In some ways that's easier, because you're not affected by what you are writing. But then you tell the stories and relive what you are writing."

The book was published in May 2006, 18 years after his brother's death and 28 years after his father's.

"An assumption one cannot make is that grief ever ends," says Kenneth Doka, author of Living With Grief: Who We Are and How We Grieve and a professor of gerontology at the College of New Rochelle. "You have to live with it. But over time, bad days are fewer and farther between."

His father's heart diseaseheart disease has been a lesson to him. Cooper gets his heart checked regularly, along with cholesterol and stressstress tests. He says that he goes through cycles of regular exercise followed by long stretches spent traveling, when he isn't able to work out at all. His diet follows a similar pattern. When he travels, Cooper says, "Some food can be pretty tough to swallow -- literally. I bring Power Bars and canned tuna."

Nowadays, though, life has slowed down some. Although Cooper still goes where disaster calls him, "the idea of decompressing is new to me in the last several years. I'd always stay in motion. I was always driving fast, always going out at night. But it lessens your creative abilities. Now I go out to my house on Long Island for two days and do nothing."

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