Rob Delaney has spoken about the ‘anger’ he felt after the death of his son Henry as he discussed writing about his loss for his new book.
The actor’s son Henry tragically died aged just two-and-a-half on Rob’s 41st birthday in January 2018 after a two-year battle with a brain tumour.
He explored his grief in his book A Heart That Works and has now said he wanted to give an ‘unvarnished’ picture of grief and the ‘anger’ that comes with it in his writing.
Speaking to Nick Grimshaw and Angela Hartnett on the Dish podcast, Rob admitted he didn’t want to give a ‘sunnier’ picture of grief but instead show how ‘brutalising’ it can be.
The comedian, 46, explained: ‘Part of the book was, I wanted to do an unvarnished picture of grief and the anger that comes with it.
Grief: Rob Delaney has spoken about the ‘anger’ he felt after the death of his son Henry as he discussed writing about his loss for his new book
‘I think it would’ve been much less kind to put out a book that was like, “But then one day the sun did come out,” you know, and all this stuff. Because then somebody could read that and be like, oh, I guess maybe I’ll be okay.
‘And then something like that happens to them and you’re just brutalised, you know, something said to me, make it difficult, make it heavy.’
Rob went on to explain how A Heart That Works, which was released in late 2022, follows his family and how they began taking care of Henry when he became unwell.
He continued: ‘It’s about, you know, that whole experience with my family of him getting sick and then us taking care of him for a couple of years and then him dying.
‘So to answer specifically your question about reading through it, it felt good to do that because even when you’re writing a book, it’s rare to go from like A to Z all the way through.
‘And that was one of the times I did that, like in essentially one sitting. I think I actually did take an hour-and-a-half nap in the middle of it and just lay on the floor in the dark booth, I really did, and then, so yeah, it took one day to do.
‘And I felt good doing that because then I was like, okay, this book is gonna devastate people, but it also makes sense, there’s a through line. So honestly, reading it out loud, I was like, it doesn’t stink.
‘Also, I was even like- ’cause parts of it I’d written months before, I was like, “Whoa, my God, I’m gonna put this out in the world? I mean, this is gonna wallop people”.’
As well as their late child Henry, Rob and his wife Leah also share three sons, the youngest of which was born in August 2018 – just months after Henry’s death.
Rob discovered his son Henry might have a brain tumour just one day after he and Sharon Horgan won a BAFTA for comedy writing on Catastrophe in April 2016.
Loss: The actor’s son Henry tragically died aged just two-and-a-half on Rob’s 41st birthday in January 2018 after a two-year battle with a brain tumour
Anger: He explored his grief in his book A Heart That Works and has now said he wanted to give an ‘unvarnished’ picture of grief and the ‘anger’ that comes with it in his writing
Though he was at the height of his success, he previously described the months that followed as ‘obscured by fog’ amid his son’s ill-health.
Catastrophe ran for four seasons from 2015 until 2019 and Rob both wrote and starred in the sitcom amid his son’s devastating cancer battle.
Speaking about the successful show on the podcast, Rob said he ‘hopes’ they don’t bring it back and said he thinks too many shows are getting reboots for a ‘cash grab’.
He said: ‘I hope we don’t, only because people reboot everything now. Like let it be.
‘We stopped doing it because we had done four series that we were proud of and we could smell that we were getting in danger of repeating ourselves, and frankly, we said a lot about marriage and parenting in there, maybe Sharon might have some ideas. I totally don’t.
‘I like had scraped the barrel and was like, that’s all I know. And so, if we did another one, I think it might be bad, or worse, a cash grab. I would rather starve to death.
‘I don’t want my kids to starve to death, but I would totally on principal be like, check it out, I starved to death ’cause it was cooler than trot out some [rubbish].’
He added: ‘And then the ones that do reboot, like so many that reboot, you’re like, I was fine with that not existing anymore and then it comes back and you’re like, eh, so God help us if we ever did that.’
It is not the first time that Rob has spoken about his son’s battle with cancer as he previously described finding out Henry had a brain tumour as the ‘heaviest pain in the world’.
An extract from his book published in the Sunday Times provided harrowing recounts of the difficult period for him and his wife Leah after Henry’s tragic death.
‘Grief drove a bus through the part of my brain where memories are stored,’ he said. ‘After the MRI, Dr Anson confirmed that Henry had a large tumour in the back of his head, near his brain stem.
‘He delivered the news calmly, and ended by saying a paediatric brain surgeon would come to see us within a few hours. We sank inside ourselves.
He went on to explain how they were introduced to a brain surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital who were going to try and surgically remove the tumour just two weeks after Henry had turned one.
When they arrived at the hospital days before the surgery, Rob and Leah shared a shower room with Henry, who Rob described as having a fatigued appearance that ‘you would normally associate with an old man’.
Candid: Speaking to Nick Grimshaw and Angela Hartnett on the Dish podcast , Rob admitted he didn’t want to give a ‘sunnier’ picture of grief but instead show how ‘brutalising’ it can be
Family: As well as their late child Henry, Rob and his wife Leah also share three sons, the youngest of which was born in August 2018 – months after Henry’s tragic death
After two months in the intensive care unit, Henry was moved to the cancer ward where he received chemotherapy for several months.
And while this was going on, the couple made an ‘active decision’ to protect their marriage by going on a date once a week even if Henry was in intensive care.
Rob shared his heartbreak at learning that Henry’s cancer had started to return, saying his ‘stomach filled with stones’ as he and Leah understood there could be no more treatment.
Henry was then given just another three to six months to live and tragically passed away in January 2018.