Rob Delaney is not the man he was 17 years ago. To celebrate 17 years of being sober, the comedian penned a reflection on his former alcoholism and how sobriety helped him through a “brutal” 2018 when he tragically lost his 2-year-old son, Henry, to a brain tumor. Delaney shared a screenshot of his message to Instagram on Monday, E! News reported.
“As of today I’ve been sober 17 years. 17 years ago I was in jail in a wheelchair. Today I’m not,” the 42-year-old Catastrophe star began. “I am profoundly grateful to the alcoholics who shined a light on the path for me and helped equip me with the skills to live life well.”
He continued on to discuss sobriety’s positive effects on his fatherhood and his ability to grieve for his son’s passing in January 2018.
“This has been a brutal year for my family and me. Our first year without our son and brother Henry. Had I not been sober it would have been far worse. As it was, I squeaked by,” the star admitted. “Sobriety allowed me to be a reasonably good dad, husband and worker though [sic] it all…Sobriety allows me to grieve fully, and grief is an expression of love.”
Delaney concluded his message by thanking his family, friends, and followers for helping him through the tough times.
The post saw over 1,400 commenters, most of whom congratulated the actor on his milestone. Several fellow comedians, including Paul Scheer, Ellie Taylor, and Aisling Bea, sent their love.
Delaney announced the tragic passing of his son in February one year ago, according to People. He explained on social media that Henry had been diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016, just after his first birthday. In early 2017, Delaney’s family sought treatment and Henry’s tumor was removed in surgery, but it later returned.
Delaney shared Henry with his wife, Leah Delaney. She became pregnant again when Henry’s battle began, and the couple welcomed their fourth son in August, just months after Henry’s death. The Delaneys also share two older sons.
Delaney’s sobriety not only helped him in his personal life but also his work. The Irish-American actor channeled his experience with alcoholism for his ongoing British sitcom Catastrophe, which he co-stars in and co-created. In 2017, the series aired a scene where Delaney’s character, also named Rob, wrecked his car while driving drunk, according to the Telegraph.
The scene was reportedly based on a true experience of Delaney’s in 2002. The actor blacked out while driving drunk and crashed his car, suffering major injuries in the process. He was ultimately sent to prison in a wheelchair and underwent several months of physical therapy and legal action. Delaney often cites his accident as the breaking point in his alcoholism, when he realized he needed to stop.
“That was the a-ha moment,” Delaney said once in an interview. “That’s when I knew, this is a problem. I’d been trying to quit for years.”