Fact Check

Did Keanu Reeves Say, 'Grief Changes Shape but It Never Ends?'

Quotes seen as deep and thoughtful are often attributed to the widely loved actor.

Published Oct 3, 2022

Keanu Reeves once said, “Grief changes shape, but it never ends. [...] People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, 'It's gone, and I'm better.' They're wrong.” (Governo do Estado de São Paulo/Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via Governo do Estado de São Paulo/Wikimedia Commons
Claim:
Keanu Reeves once said, “Grief changes shape, but it never ends. [...] People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, 'It's gone, and I'm better.' They're wrong.”

Fact Check

Actor Keanu Reeves has a reputation for being one of the nicest guys in Hollywood, and, as a result, many statements considered to be thoughtful or kind articulations of profound emotions often get attributed to him. Not all of those attributions are correct, as we’ve covered in the past. 

However, one very popular quote lapping the internet was indeed pulled from an old interview with the actor. Spreading on Reddit and numerous blogs, he reportedly said, “Grief changes shape, but it never ends. [...] People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, 'It's gone, and I'm better.' They're wrong.”

Reeves did indeed say this in a 2006 interview with Parade magazine, speaking with author and playwright Dotson Rader. For that reason, we rated this fact check "Correct Attribution."

In the interview, Reeves was talking largely about grief in his own life. He had experienced the deaths of his former girlfriend Jennifer Syme in a car crash and friend River Phoenix due to a drug overdose, among other challenges. We found an archived copy of the interview on newspapers.com:

'Grief changes shape, but it never ends,' [Reaves] told me. 'People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, 'It's gone, and I'm better.' They're wrong.'

'When the people you love are gone, you’re alone,' he added quietly. 'I miss being a part of their life, and them being a part of mine. I wonder what the present would be like if they were here–what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be.'

'Damn it! It’s not fair! It’s absurd,' he said angrily. 'All you can do is hope that grief will be transformed and, instead of feeling pain and confusion, you will be together again in memory, that there will be solace and pleasure there, not just loss.'

I asked if loss had changed him. 

'Much of my appreciation of life has come through loss,' he said. 'Life is precious. It's worthwhile.'

Here's a screenshot of the Parade article via newspapers.com, showing the relevant quote:

Sources:

“Articles by Dotson Rader.” Parade: Entertainment, Recipes, Health, Life, Holidays, https://parade.com/author/dotsonrader. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

“Did Keanu Reeves Say ‘No One Has the Right To Judge You’?” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/keanu-reeves-judge-quote/. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

Fry, Naomi. “Keanu Reeves Is Too Good for This World.” The New Yorker, 3 June 2019. www.newyorker.com, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/keanu-reeves-is-too-good-for-this-world. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

“Inside Keanu Reeves’ Private World: Love, Motorcycles and Epic Movie Stardom After Tragedy.” E! Online, 2 Sept. 2022, https://www.eonline.com/news/1042084/inside-keanu-reeves-inscrutable-private-world-tragedy-motorcycles-and-epic-movie-stardom. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

“Keanu Reeves: ‘I Want to Get Married.’” Peoplemag, https://people.com/celebrity/keanu-reeves-i-want-to-get-married/. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

“The Modesto Bee 11 Jun 2006, Page 100.” Newspapers.Com, https://www.newspapers.com/image/698247275/. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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