Between Ocean’s 8 and Bird Box, Sandra Bullock’s 2018 has looked like a landmark one for her career. But behind the scenes, the actress’ year has been a challenging one — a reminder that you can never know what someone is dealing with until they open up about it. Bullock did just that on a recent episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where she talked about losing her father as well as two pets within a month.T
“Life, I realized, happens whether you schedule it or not,” Bullock told the talk show host. “That just blew my mind this year… My dad died, and then while my dad was failing, we get a call from the nanny… that our dog Ruby, the two-legger, had a stroke. And I’m like, ‘What, what?’ I was like, ‘Just put her on life support. Do something.’ And they go, ‘We can’t. She’s suffering.’ So I was like, ‘Okay, there’s a reason for this.’ Dad’s settled. We fly home.”
During that trying period of time, Bullock allowed herself to go through all of the emotions of grief — and actively worked to make time for herself to process her feelings. “A week later I’m in the bathtub crying and the kids are like, ‘Is Mommy okay?’,” she recalled. “Everyone is like, ‘Just leave Mommy in the bathtub. She’s going to be fine.’”
Shortly after, Bullock realized she would be losing her other dog. “Days later, ‘You’re dad’s not doing well,’ ” she recalled. “The nanny comes into the room. She’s got a look on her face. I’m like, ‘What did the kids [Louis and Laila] do?’ She’s like, ‘I need to speak to you in the bedroom.’ And I was like, ‘Okay.’ And she goes, ‘Your other dog has a heart tumor, and she’s going to die in three days.’ “
Bullock also gave herself a lot of room to heal — and made a point of emphasizing that during grief, it’s normal, and OK, to feel like you’re less than the best version of yourself. Back in October, after the tragic trifecta, Bullock told a crowd at the ELLE Women in Hollywood event, “My dad died and both of my dogs died, so I don’t feel like being nice!”
She was entitled to do so, too. “To be ‘bereaved’ literally means ‘to be torn apart’ and ‘to have special needs,'” Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D., author of Grief Day By Day and the founder of the Center for Loss, tells Thrive. “People in grief especially need others to be compassionate with them. They need them not just to cut them slack, but to be caring and sensitive to the mourner at the time of the death and long after.” In other words, Bullock’s response is both warranted and human. If you’re dealing with your own loss, remember that you’re entitled to others’ compassion, and that it’s completely normal — and healthy — if it takes a long time for you to feel like yourself again. In the meantime, embrace the solitude and support that you need.
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