Feature

Joely Richardson’s lingering heartache

When Natasha Richardson died last March after suffering a freak head injury in a skiing accident, Joely says she felt as though she’d lost part of herself. The two sisters were born just 20 months apart and grew up practically inseparable.

Joely Richardson is still mourning the loss of her sister, Natasha Richardson, said Justine Picardie in Red. Born just 20 months apart, the daughters of actress Vanessa Redgrave and director Tony Richardson grew up practically inseparable, weathering their parents’ divorce, their father’s death from AIDS, and other crises. “We were each other’s constant,” says Richardson. “All our reference points were joint ones.” When Natasha died last March after suffering a freak head injury in a skiing accident, Joely says she felt as though she’d lost part of herself. “It felt as if my DNA had split. It was as if someone had put a bomb inside me and exploded it.” The grief she experienced was “violent and terrifying. It’s like a dinosaur has got your head in its mouth, and is shaking your body. You’re lucky if you can walk through it.” She’s coming to terms now, but says she still can’t bring herself to use the word “death” in reference to Natasha. “I don’t know why I can’t say it. But I do understand it when people say ‘passing,’ because I suppose we are all just passing through life; there’s no finality about it. That makes me feel better.”

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