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Maria Shriver Opens Up About Love and Loss

In an AARP exclusive, she discusses motherhood, living alone and "the power of the pause"

President Kennedy aboard the 'Honey Fitz' off Cape Cod, with niece Maria Shriver, and daughter, Caroline. (Corbis)

1963: Maria Shriver (center) aboard the Honey Fitz with her cousin Caroline Kennedy and her uncle, President John F. Kennedy. — Corbis

You’ve talked about taking the armor off — letting go of expectations and being true to yourself.

MS: That’s a lifelong job and probably the most difficult thing anybody does. If you don’t do it, you’re buried under that.

What about grief and loss? Does that factor into the armor people put up?

MS: You can’t go through life without experiencing grief and loss, but we don’t have a culture for handling grief. People don’t wear black for a year. Someone dies, and 48 hours later it’s, “You’re OK now, right?” People don’t want to feel their grief. They want everything to be back to normal. If you’re awake and not medicated, you’re consumed with grief. Understanding that there’s not something wrong with you, and that you will get through it, is probably one of the most important things you do.

My daughter recently gave me a great quote: “Be kind to people, because everybody you know is engaged in a really tough battle.” I believe that everybody is walking around this way. You just have to pull the scab back and, ook, out it comes. I think it’s good. Out it comes.

How do you feel about aging? 

MS: Aging is a fact of life, but you are never ready for it. But I don’t think about it that much. I try to surround myself with lots of young people who are full of life and energy and ideas. My parents did that, too, and I always thought it was smart.

When I toured college campuses with my kids, I thought, “Oh, how I wish I were their age!” But I don’t really. I’ve led a wonderful life. I’ve had great experiences and fulfilled a lot of my dreams and then some. I’ve been loved, and I’ve loved. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s.

Do you have regrets?

MS: Probably everyone does, but you don’t want to become consumed with regrets. You can say, “I wish that hadn’t happened. That’s an experience I don’t want to repeat.”

What else would you like to do that you haven’t done yet?

MS: A lot. I’d like to try a silent retreat, because I talk a lot. That would be challenging! I’d like to get really good at meditation. I’d like to get really good at accepting love. I’d like to get really good at unconditional love.

Next page: Living in an empty nest. »

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