Gloria Estefan Says It Was Difficult to Record Music After Losing Her Mother
By Manuel Betancourt
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Given that death has lurked at the edges of previous episodes of Red Table Talk: The Estefans, it was only a matter of time before Gloria, Lili and Emily dealt with grief directly. Joined by Gloria’s sister, Becky, all four ladies talked candidly in the latest episode about dealing with loss and were joined by grief expert David Kessler, author of Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief.
With the characteristic openness they brought to their episodes on divorce, coming out and mental health, Gloria kicked off the episode acknowledging the purpose of the show: “Our hope is that by sharing our darkest days, we can bring some healing and light to those dealing with grief and loss.”
Decked out in a stylish outfit she said was picked to honor her ever-fashionable mother, Gloria spoke about losing her mom back in 2017. It was a loss, she admits, that took a toll on her at the time. “I couldn’t record my album for over a year,” she shared, admitting she pushed back her latest album, Brazil305, because she was so awash in grief, even though she had a chance to bid her mother goodbye surrounded by their entire family.
And, in a message that would be echoed throughout the episode, Gloria spoke about her conviction that those who die never really leave us.
“Open your eyes to the messages your loved ones are giving you constantly,” she shared. “I believe firmly that there are a million ways -- and it’s always gonna be in a way that only you would know and you would recognize. They have gotten us through the toughest moments even when they were gone.”
Following suit, Lili opened up again about coping with her mother’s suicide when she was only 11 years old and Becky discussed her recent miscarriage. Holding back tears and often sharing tissues across the signature red table, their heartbreaking stories led to an uplifting discussion with Kessler, who shared his own story of how he first began studying grief and how it helped him cope with his mother’s death and later losing his own adopted son.
“Grief is natural,” he said. “Organically, we know what to do. But our modern society is the one that tells us be strong, get over it, move on, you shouldn’t feel it, find closure, get over them. What kind of closure?”
Rather than preaching any kind of closure -- or any kind of linear understanding of how we process grief -- Kessler talked at length about the sixth stage of grief: meaning.
“Miscarriage, divorce, saying we’re not saying we are bad because these things happen. They happen. That’s life. That’s part of the deal. We can’t take away the pain but we can find meaning," he said.
Gloria, for instance, still finds signs from her mother all around her; Lili still bids her mother goodnight every evening; while Becky daydreams about the young child she was never able to hold.
Indeed, Kessler talked about how committed he was to tackling grief and miscarriages in his latest book. They don’t get talked about enough, he says, noting: “People internalize it and think they did something wrong. Miscarriages, like death, happen in our life.”
It was but one of the many takeaways in the emotional episode which felt cathartic to those at the table and yet full of helpful advice for those watching.
“How long will I grieve?” Kessler said people often ask him. “I say, ‘Well, how long are they gonna be dead? If they’re gonna be dead a long time, you’re gonna grieve them for a long time. Not always in pain but you’re gonna grieve.’”
The episode ended with Emily and Gloria performing “If I Never Got to Tell You,” a song the mother-daughter duo wrote for a key scene in the Broadway musical On Your Feet!.
A bonus episode of Red Table Talk: The Estefans will air on Friday featuring Matt Mauser, a widowed father of three, who lost his wife, Christina, in the tragic helicopter accident that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other lives. Watch the video below for a first look.