Keanu Reeves’ Advice to Anyone Grieving: ‘It’s Always With You’

Many sociologists have noted how empathy has become a trait far too many people in America have lost. Other evidence belies that, even if some might suggest Hollywood lost any sense of empathy a while ago, at least in the movies they make. We can’t fault every celebrity since many do their best to raise awareness and help vulnerable people in plight.

Keanu Reeves has emerged as one A-list celebrity who understands pain based on the tragedies he’s endured in his own life. The amount of personal losses he’s absorbed has been more than anyone knew for years. Only during his recent renaissance have people understood he’s been in a constant state of grief.

Learning how to grieve properly is often impossible to grapple with until you see how Reeves handled it.

Relating to Keanu Reeves’ personal losses

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves | Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic

Not very many fans of Reeves knew about the details of the losses he’s gone through with people close to him. Perhaps it’s because his career went into such an unfathomable lull for about a decade during the immediate post-Matrix years. With his fans not paying attention, it sailed over heads he’d lost more than a few important people in his life since he began acting.

One of the first was his close personal friendship with River Phoenix during the 1980s and early ’90s. When Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993, it made Reeves make sure he’d never end up the same way. He’s said in recent interviews he was never into drugs, however, despite he and Phoenix coming from fractured families.

The other side of Reeves’ tragic life comes from not having the best family upbringing. His father was AWOL most of the time and eventually faced drug charges.

Then, twenty years ago, his girlfriend (Jennifer Syme) gave birth to a stillborn child. A couple of years afterward, Syme died in a car accident, leaving Reeves devastated right at the end of his first wave of fame.

Reeves seemed to put life in perspective fast when the studios stopped hiring him

By the mid-2000s, Reeves’ film career was starting to slowly sputter out, or at least as a major studio star. His retreat into indie films over the next decade didn’t seem to bother him.

He’s mentioned it was just the way things work why the studios didn’t hire him anymore. Little did he know his humbleness would help bring him a renaissance by the latter part of this decade.

Since those days of experiencing so much loss, he’s also learned to deal with grief. Those of us (including yours truly) who’ve gone through similar personal losses know how grief can affect life. We all do the process differently, but Reeves makes some important points about how to grieve.

In his view, grieving is something always there with you. I know from personal experience grief can haunt you forever, yet you can use it in positive ways to keep yourself grounded during life’s most important moments.

His tragic life is likely why he’s kept so humble

Who knows what Reeves would have been like had he not have experienced the losses he had. Some of his most ardent fans might suggest he would have been the same person because those who have a sense of humbleness have it inherently.

Perhaps that’s true, though Reeves has turned his grief into helping his acting as well. No doubt you’ve seen how much the John Wick movies alone play up similar trajectories to Reeves’ own life. As a result, it’s helped Reeves become a more expansive actor, something he arguably needed after being accused of being “wooden” earlier in his career.

Maybe it’s a cliche to think tragedy begets better things. It’s still clear those who face hardships early usually end up maintaining sanity and understand life from a less cynical standpoint.

Reeves is one of those rarities, and even a resurgence in his superstar status probably won’t alter his reinforced frame of mind.