Sarah Jessica Parker Teaches Us How To Process Grief After Losing A Loved One

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“Sometimes silence is a statement,” Sarah Jessica Parker said in her heartfelt Instagram tribute to Willie Garson. Yes, silence speaks volumes about what they shared over their 30+ year friendship. How can we really capture all of that in a few sparse lines and a picture? There is too much, and the grief is still too raw.  


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A post shared by SJP (@sarahjessicaparker)

A Real Friendship 

Parker calls their relationship “a real friendship.” She talks about the “secrets, adventure, a shared professional family.” All of those moments make up the kind of friendship that can’t simply be replaced. The true depth of that loss won’t be fully fathomed for some time to come, if ever. It’s also a grief that most of us would have in private, surrounded by family and friends, to work through over time.  

But Parker is a celebrity, and the media outlets have all speculated about how she was dealing with the loss of her close friend. HBO/HBO Max captured what so many of his friends and colleagues were saying: “Willie Garson was in life, as on screen, a devoted friend and a bright light for everyone in his universe.” But Parker simply posted a simple response to Chris Noth, saying, “I’m not ready yet. Xxx”  

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A post shared by Chris Noth (@chrisnothofficial)

Compounded Grief 

If we’ve learned anything over the last year, it’s that tragedy piles up, one after another, in ways that become even more unbearable. Parker just posted about the loss of another close friend, George D. Malkemus lll, a few days ago: “I cannot summon the words for a fitting tribute. He deserves prose I don’t yet have. I have to gather my thoughts. Today I can only say I’m utterly heartbroken.”  

That message was in addition to the one on her SJP Collection Instagram account: “Even in our grief, we hold on tightly to the joyous memories he gave us throughout the years.” It must feel as though some of the most important people in her life have passed away, and both were taken too soon by cancer. In the last year, compounded grief has affected so many of us. It’s the new normal: “Every day it seems there’s something else thrown our way, and we’re expected to find a way to carefully fit it into our lives.” 

Coping Skills For Dealing With Grief 

While loss has affected us all, and Parker has been affected by compounded grief, she’s also demonstrated her penchant for rising above her grief and loss. She demonstrates coping skills that we can all benefit from. Here’s what we can learn from her grief-stricken post. 

Focus On The Positive 

In her Instagram post, Parker focuses on her good memories, ranging over the span of 30+ years, with specificity: “truth, concerts, road trips, meals, late night phone calls, a mutual devotion to parenthood and all the heartaches and joy that accompany, triumphs, disappointments, fear, rage and years spent on sets.” These are the good times that tie them together as not just friends but as the closest of comrades who shared their deepest secrets, hopes, dreams, and plans.  

Share The Laughter 

Although now doesn’t feel like a good time to laugh, laughter was a mainstay of their relationship. Parker remembers: “laughing late into the night as both Stanford and Carrie and Willie and SJ.” While this is a tragic time, there’s still the sense that the laughter still hangs in the air. When the grief has subsided, those moments will always be with her. It’s the memory of laughter, but also the shared companionship and emotional support over the years.  

Work Toward Acceptance 

It’s too soon to say that Parker has really accepted the loss of her friend, Willie, but she is working in that direction. She is revisiting the last moments that she spent with him and memorializing what he meant to her. His absence is a “crater,” a deep hole in her life, but it’s not one that will stop her in her tracks. Memories will resurface and she will miss him terribly, but her life will go on.  

Gain Perspective 

Just as Parker is building toward acceptance, perspective is something that comes with time. Still, it’s clear that she’s moving in that direction. She says, “I will miss everything about you.” And: “Your absence a crater that I will fill with blessing of these memories and all the ones that are still in recesses yet to surface.” Their relationship and all the memories they’ve shared are cherished gifts, which won’t ever be forgotten.  

The Rest Of The Story 

We all need those people in our lives who have known us for decades and are still willing to pick up the phone to answer no matter what the odd phone call might be about. It’s that person with whom you can truly be yourself with all the scars, warts, and blemishes. Everything. 

While every one of his family and friends experiences his loss in a slightly different way, there are shreds of commonality. As Nick Frye writes: “What we all do share is the experience of a broken heart because we lost someone/thing we love.” 

So, while we learn from that loss and work through the losses of our own, the best parting words are from Willie. “BE KIND TO EACH OTHER……ALWAYS. LOVE TO ALL. APPROACH KINDNESS.” 


What are your views on grief and loss? Let us know in the comments. 

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