This Ken Burns Quote About His Mom’s Death Is Beautiful


We all know Ken Burns, yes?


Jim Spellman / Getty Images

He’s one of the most famous documentary filmmakers of all time (The Central Park Five, Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, The War.)

In a recent interview with the New York Times, he was asked about the connection between his work and his mom’s death.

Ken, whose mom died of cancer when he was 12 years old, had a profound answer explaining how he turned that pain and sorrow into meaning.

“In April, I will have been without a mother for 56 years,” Ken said. “That is way too long. Her name was Lyla. The half-life of grief is endless. But it has also been hugely productive.”


The New York Times / Via nytimes.com

“I didn’t want her to die, but I don’t know what I would do without the loss as being the engine of exploration, of confidence, of bravery.”

The parallelism between the beginning and ending lines and the profound commentary on grief and loss feels like a poem to me.

IDK about you, but I’ve never felt so broken and so whole simultaneously.

It’s just SO beautiful. It got me thinking a lot about death and life and art, and the connection between all three.

And knowing that somewhere in Brooklyn “is a little girl who is 10 years old,” named after Ken’s mom, is almost too much for me to bear.

Maybe it’s time someone makes another documentary about Ken’s life, but more specifically, this quote.

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