Emilia Clarke: ‘We don’t look at grief properly, your perspective on life changes forever’

Whenever I see Emilia Clarke I think about how she so expertly told the story of her brain hemorrhages. She had two in between seasons of Game of Thrones, she easily could have died, and she had grueling recoveries with each. We never knew about it until she told her story, in her own words, in the most matter-of-fact yet compelling way. She has this sunny disposition and outlook that comes through in everything she does yet her writing was so crisp, well-told and didn’t veer toward syrupy optimism or maudlin navel-gazing. I was so impressed with how she framed that, and how she handled that period of her life. She then founded a charity to help other young people going through neurological disorders. Emilia does not get enough credit for that, because she’s just a wonderful person and doesn’t give us much to gossip about. That’s what came to mind when I read her interview with The Guardian. She’s still out there promoting Last Christmas, that weird romcom she’s in with Henry Golding. This interview is so damn deep that it’s hard to talk about, but I’m going to try.

How her brain hemorrhage helped her perspective on life
“And yes, I’m at the point where I definitely think of the brain haemorrhage as a good thing… Because I was never destined to be the ‘young actor goes off the rails’ type, up and down the gossip columns. And having a brain haemorrhage that coincided precisely with the beginning of my career and the beginning of a show that became something quite meaty, it gave me a perspective that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’m quite a resilient human being, so a parent dying and brain haemorrhages coinciding with success and people following you in the street and getting stalkers – you’re just, like, ‘Well let’s try and make something sensible of it…’

“It was nerve-racking to share it, to be honest. It always is, when you make yourself vulnerable.” She waited so long to talk about it, because, “I didn’t want people to think of me as… sick.”

She had brain hemorrhages in 2011 and 2013 and then lost her dad in 2016
“I finally got this feeling. As if, on a cellular level, I’d grown up. And it’s so bittersweet, because I was clinging on to that childlike optimism. Then, when I finally let it go, I realised that was actually quite a heavy backpack to be wearing. I felt like that at the Emmys, too, finally popping my head up from the bunker. It’s as if you can see the actual landscape that you’ve been living in this entire time from another perspective…

“It can be perceived as such a feminine trait, can’t it – the responsibility to ‘put a smile on it’. And, and you feel like it’s a defeat if you give in and admit, ‘Maybe it’s not going to be OK in the end.’ But then, if you do, then you have an opportunity to go… ‘and what if that’s all right?’ Death is shit… It’s really hard and grief is horrific, and yet it is completely and utterly guaranteed. No matter how much Silicon Valley boys want to prove to everyone it’s not. But the finality of death, the absolute certainty of it, I’ve realised, is such a tonic.”

“We don’t look at grief properly. I’m not talking about the random moments of completely overwhelming emotion, I’m pretty in control of that… there was only one time on set where I just physically couldn’t stop crying. It’s the other stuff that we don’t discuss – the functional grief; when your worldview and your perspective on life and yourself changes irrevocably, forever.”

How she deals with grief
“By realising that there is a framework that life lives within, and knowing when you reach the edges of it. There’s that. And I try to use the shit feelings as opposed to just ‘breathing through it’. It’s like putting my plastic in the recycling bin – it might not do anything, but I should at least try. And then being an actor and having a production company, knowing that the greater understanding I have about life, the greater storyteller I can be. As an actor, you’re always observing – no matter what trauma you’re going through, there’s a wee bit of your brain that’s like, ‘Isn’t this fascinating?’”

She had many stalkers
Clarke was catapulted to extreme fame during a period when she nearly lost her mind. She started to find gifts outside her door, from one of many stalkers. One, she says, is extremely unwell, another extremely mean. “The stalker stuff is just horrible because, as a single lady walking around town, I already feel like I’m being followed.”

These stalkers believe they’re having a relationship with her, “which is confusing, because having a relationship with people I don’t know is a big part of what I signed up for. I care about what art does to people. But it carries with it a responsibility, and when you leave your front door you take that with you. And it’s a difficult path to navigate. Because sometimes,” and she’s talking about fans now, the line between the two often being blurred, “you get grabbed physically and your instincts kick in. When you see shock being registered on someone else’s face, you’re like, ‘Where’s the danger?’ And then you realise, oh, it’s me – I’m the danger.”

[From The Guardian]

That interview was amazing and I got teary at times. I like how she described how her entire worldview changed through these incredibly difficult events. She’s so matter-of-fact about the worst events of her life and about how she dealt with them. She worked through it, and realized her optimism was a kind of naivete that she needed to shed. She then came to the conclusion that she may as well hold on to it because the finality of life is funny too. Emilia has multiple horrible stalkers and that’s got to be so scary yet she talks about it in a detached way that focuses on how her reactions affect her fans. She said, in a way, that going through these awful things has helped her become a better actress. I just admire her and this profile cemented that.



photos credit: Avalon.red

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26 Responses to “Emilia Clarke: ‘We don’t look at grief properly, your perspective on life changes forever’”

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  1. Lucy says:

    I still cannot believe all she’s been through, and how she managed to keep it a secret until this year. It’s crazy, but then again, it’s really not. It’s…life. I’m glad she’s alive.

    • Christina says:

      I love her, too, but I think that most women try to hide stalking, abuse, health issues, and any weakness because we can’t earn money or be accepted as competent if we don’t unless we are privileged (BBQ Becky’s White tears anyone?). Eventually, some close off. Others open up, some at nauseam, like me!

      I had three stalkers. Single mom was in jail twice, once during elementary school and again when I was a freshman in college. My former partner’s decade-long attempt to take me down made it impossible to hold it in any longer. I didn’t start talking about it openly with anyone who’d listen until my career was solid. What happened to Christine Blasey Ford made me feel like it is my duty to tell my story in hopes that the next generations OF MEN, in addition to women, understand how common these experiences actually are for many of us.

      Emelia is so special. She has gracefully navigated horrors of health, stalking, and grief. What a role model!!! I wish I were half as eloquent.

      • Kimberly says:

        also had a stalker in my early 20s. followed me around town, sat outside my apt, tried breaking in, got into my house and took phone numbers I had on my fridge and called people looking for me, attempted to break in a house i was house sitting at, tied a rabbit legs in a hutch together and left a note saying I got lucky….never called the cops….still dont know why I never did…I just went and packed a uhaul and left one day, moved back to Portland….left so much furniture in my apt, but never got bothered by him again.

      • Christina says:

        Kimberly, bless you. You did what most of us do because we have too much to lose. We get conditioned to not hurt anybody, but not to be a victim, either, so this is a typical reaction. We are set up to get assaulted and killed. If you fight, people find out and assume the woman did something.

        When my stalking was at its worse, and I had to give the DVRO to my boss, my female boss was horrified by the news that he might kill me (still might). She asked if I could go underground. I had to explain to her that he’d do anything to find me. That I’d lose my career. That I had to prove he was dangerous in court or my leaving with my vulnerable child would put ME in jail eventually and that she would end up with her abuser.

        Even women don’t know what can happen if they are privileged enough to live in safety and financial security.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        I had a former patient stalk me. The most horrific and terrifying feeling of loss of control ever.

      • dreamchild says:

        I too had a stalker. He was the father of my oldest child and when I left he threatened my life daily. One time my class was going on an day excursion and he actually got the staff to come get me off of the bus to speak with him on the phone. He had been trying his best to hamper my school progress off site but this time he actually contacted the school with some bs about him killing himself if I didn’t… fill in the blank. I was so furious, incensed, scared and embarrassed all at the same time. I told him on the phone in the office, in front of the staff that he should fucking just do it and do the world a favor. The mostly female staff were so scandalized that I could be so cruel but I literally couldn’t take it anymore. Also this was before stalking became a legal issue so the cops couldn’t help. I remember spending that whole day at the amusement park, fun fact, the park was the old Playboy Club ski resort that they turned into an amusement park. I was petrified the whole day that when we returned to the city he would be waiting outside and kill me and I never told a single soul what was going on. However, telling him off in front of people was the beginning of me reclaiming my power.

  2. Darla says:

    I love her. These men need to keep their meaty hands to themselves. You can be a fan of anyone but you do not touch them. I would never do this.

    • Christina says:

      Darla, I hear you, but I contend that a majority of men view women as kittens and playthings. It may not seem that way since we work beside them, and some seem to accept us, but it always comes out during a breakup.

      Many men are respectful of women until they have a relationship problem. That’s when the patriarchal BS comes in. It’s even worse if the man doesn’t know you and wants to engage and is open about how much of a toy you are to them. Elliot Roger-like, Incel thinking is waaaaaay more widespread than people want to believe. We raise boys to be good men, and them our boys are exposed to other boys who reinforce the “woman as men’s property/plaything” narrative. I watched the dynamic when my daughter started HS. A good boy who’d been her friend didn’t stop some boys from humiliating her. He apologized to her that night and stood up for her AFTER the fact. His moms (they are married) are amazing, sharp, independent women, and he still felt that pressure.

  3. Devon says:

    Massive love for her!

  4. Gina says:

    Love her!!

  5. Sam says:

    Gratitude in just simply being alive. Emilia rules.

  6. Bloop says:

    This hits so close to home. It has been 14 years since my mother passed away and I am still realising every now and then…it’s not ok. It never will be ok. The grief is different every year, maybe even every day, sometimes it’s nice to remember things, sometimes it is overwhelming. I live with it and it immensely affects the way I see life, good and bad, but it will never be finished, I will never be “over it” And that is ok.

    • Christina says:

      Hugs to you, Bloop in the loss of your mom. We need to stop stuffing it down. It’s making first world people inhumane politically, and it is damaging to individuals as people. We are human. We hurt. It’s okay.

      My mother has, in recent weeks, chosen her abuser. We are now estranged. I’m so sorry you lost your mom.

      • ME says:


        I’m sorry your mom chose her abuser. Maybe one day she will realize this mistake and re-unite with you (if you choose to forgive her and you absolutely have a right not to). My dad died years ago and it caused my family to stop talking to each other…it got so toxic that sometimes I’m glad my siblings and I no longer have a relationship. So much blaming, manipulating, and money hungry eyes. It is sad when you become estranged from those you have known your whole life. Just as long as you know you’re not the bad guy here, just be in peace. That’s how I choose to view things. It’s hard but what can you do?

      • Christina says:

        Thanks, me. She is a wonderful person. I miss her so much, but I can’t make her feel what he does. She is bored with my stable life. He says he loves her. She is elderly, and wants to feel loved and adored and needed.

        I just miss her so much. Emilia is right. Some things change you forever.

    • Ahully1 says:

      So true about grief. I’m glad someone with her visibility is talking about it; grief is part of mental health. When my dad died last year, I felt the chemical brain change. Scary, astonishing & even though I had help with the brain chemistry & handling emotions, I too was changed forever about life & spirituality. I hope she keeps talking about this over time! Makes a difference for people!!

    • Wannabesith says:

      I lost my mom in January, it hasn’t even been a year yet. I had already been dealing with Combat PTSD, Depression and Anxiety and her death put me in the hospital. I need her, I needed her to tell me everything was going to be okay. I have to learn that it’s never going to be okay and I have to learn to live with it. And being a woman with Combat PTSD and support group are a whole other issue, the misogyny of men has made me check out of some things. Sometimes I feel alone. I smile at work and no one knows what I deal with everyday. So, I get what she is saying.

      • Christina says:

        Wannabesith, PTSD is rough. EMDR worked for me.

        Please try to seek treatment outside of the VA. I have a friend whose husband is active, and they went to a marriage counselor. That marriage counselor was misogynistic and horrible. Try to find a therapist who is willing to treat you on a sliding scale. It’s so hard when you feel so bad, but I believe in you.

        I believe in you. You can do it. I was a wreak. I have PTSD from decades of abuse. Still get anxious, but not like I did. Sending you a huge hug. XO

    • ME says:


      It’s so hard. Yes the grief NEVER goes away. Some days are better than others but sometimes you will just start crying because the reality hits you that you’ll never see them again. That’s how cruel life is. I lost a parent years ago, at a young age. It was sudden and it was very traumatic. It haunts me to this day when I re-live those last moments over and over again. I wish you strength and peace.

    • Bloop says:

      Hugs and lots of love to all of you! Thank you all for sharing your stories, I wish you nothing but strengh and health and an amazing future.
      It is amazing and weirdly comforting what a calm and lovely place this site can be, where kind words mean so much.
      Keep your heads up as the emotional waves come, ride them, but don’t let them kick you off the board and wash you away.

  7. Lala11_7 says:

    She is wonderful…what a GIFT this interview is…to the UNIVERSE!

  8. RedWeatherTiger says:

    I love her, and that picture of her with President Obama literally made me tear up.

  9. deezee says:

    She is one of my favourite celebrity people. Love her!

  10. Catting says:

    She seems like such a sweetheart. Wish her the best!

  11. Hotsauceinmybag says:

    I’ve never seen GoT and haven’t really seen any of her other work. Always thought she was just lovely. Now I think she’s so brilliant and wonderfully articulate.

  12. Jana says:

    If you love her, watch the movie, Me Before You…she was phenomenal and so was the movie!