Natasha Richardson died on March 18, 2009 in a skiing accident at the age of 45. That’s a fact – but it’s a fact that her husband, Liam Neeson, has had difficulty in accepting.
He revealed as much in an interview with Anderson Cooper to be shown on Sunday February 23 in 60 minutes. He told Cooper
“[Her death] was never real. It still kind of isn’t. There’s periods now in our New York residence when I hear the door opening, especially the first couple of years…anytime I hear that door opening, I still think I’m going to hear her.”
He described arriving at the Canadian hospital, where doctors told him Richardson was already brain dead from an epidural hematoma. The swelling of the brain caused by her fall on the slopes was simply too massive for them to control. He went on:
“She was on life support…I went in to her and I told her I loved her, said ‘Sweetie, you’re not coming back from this, you’ve banged your head’…she and I had made a pact, if any of us got into a vegetative state that we’d pull the plug…that was my immediate thought…’Okay, these tubes have to go. She’s gone.'”
Nevertheless, Natasha Richardson was transferred to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and kept alive for a short time so that friends and family could say goodbye.
It was then that he decided his dead wife would help keep others alive: “Donated three of her organs, so she’s keeping three people alive at the moment…her heart, her kidneys and her liver. It’s terrific…and I think she would be very thrilled and pleased by that.”
Neeson then told Cooper that he is still grieving for Natasha: “It hits you. It’s like a wave. You just get this profound feeling of instability…the Earth isn’t stable anymore and then it passes and it becomes more infrequent, but I still get it sometimes.”
Cooper and the 60 Minutes crew recorded the interview in Neeson’s home town of Ballymena, just outside Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Neeson is currently starring in the action thriller “Non Stop.” He spoke about the problem of playing these type of roles as he gets older : “I’m 61 years of age, man, you know? Going around, fighting these guys, yeah, I feel a wee bit embarrassed, you know? “
Natasha Richardson was born into a theatrical family. She was the daughter of the actress Vanessa Redgrave and director Tony Richardson, and the granddaughter of Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson – both extremely accomplished actors.
Liam Neeson was Natasha’s second husband; they had two sons.