Anthony Griffith Shares His Deep Pain Regarding Daughter’s Loss

There’s no home-ed class to teach you how to deal with this and you can’t go to a therapist because in a black world a therapist is taboo. It’s reserved for rich white people so you’re trying to figure it out…what did I do!? Maybe it’s something I did! Maybe it’s something… my wife did! Maybe my doctor…uh…diagnosed it uhh….erroneously, something! But at night I STILL have to be a comic, I have to work on the tonight show because that’s what Imma do, I’m a clown! Anthony Griffith, about his baby daughter having cancer

It’s 1990, and the career of comedian Anthony Griffith is blossoming. He makes it all the way, in fact, to the ultimate standard of success, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson—at the same time that his two-year-old daughter with cancer is struggling to stay alive.

How do you keep making people laugh while simultaneously in such deep pain?

This African-American man, for one thing, does not go to therapy—that, he says, is “reserved for rich white people.”

In another story from “The Moth” series, Anthony Griffith shares his and his family’s struggle. This clip was recorded in 2003 and runs about nine minutes long. Be prepared to cry.

Parents who lose children face enormous challenges as they grapple with grief. From the Introduction on Compassionate Friends, a grief support organization for parents and families: “The death of a child is devastating and often referred to as the worst experience a parent can endure. A child’s death causes a profound family crisis. It shatters core beliefs and assumptions about the world and the expectations about how life should unfold. The overwhelming suffering and intense emotions that flood the days, weeks, months, and years following the loss is called grief.”

Moreover, “The pain of grief is extremely intense as parents digest the finality of never seeing their child again and the loss of future hopes and plans. While memories of the child flood their mind, they also experience a deep emptiness and unimaginable void in their lives. Grief impacts a parent’s whole identity as well as the identity and security of other members of the family…”

Therapy, both individual and couples, can be helpful, as can support groups designed for grieving parents. A couple written resources for parents are “When Your Child Has Cancer” and
“When a Parent Is Grieving the Loss of a Child.”

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