‘Game of Thrones’ Star Richard E. Grant Reflects On His Wife’s Lung Cancer Battle And Why He Is Determined to Enjoy Christmas This Year

Published Dec 2, 2021

Chris Spargo

Managing Grief During the Holidays

  • Game of Thrones star Richard E. Grant, 64, is preparing for his first Christmas since losing his wife, Joan Washington, to lung cancer.
  • Washington passed away at the age of 74 in September, just eight months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
  • “Caregiving is the most important job in the universe, because you are there through the highs and lows,” Julie Bulger, manager of patient and family-centered care at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville previously told SurvivorNet.

Game of Thrones star Richard E. Grant is preparing for his first Christmas since losing his wife Joan Washington to lung cancer.

In an interview with Radio Times, the Oscar-nominated star of Can You Ever Forgive Me? said that he is determined to make the most of the upcoming holiday season even though he is still mourning his wife’s death.

Washington passed away at 74 in September, just eight months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

“It’s a sentimental time of year,” said Wright. “I’ve kept every decoration our daughter made for the tree when she was a child and adolescent.”

It will be a far more low-key affair than years past though, according to DailyMail.com, which first ran the interview.

Grant admitted that he is fine with a low-key day of holiday cheer.

Grant (above with Washington on their wedding day and in her final month) is donating to the hospice care group who helped his wife in her final months.

“Christmas is the perfect excuse to watch stuff you’ve loved all your life, because it takes you back to the first time you ever saw it,’ said Wright. “Every time I see Mary Poppins, I feel I’m seven, or The Sound of Music, I feel like I’m five. That’s the delight of it.”

The actor is also making a donation to the hospice care organization that helped his wife and family in those difficult final months.

“The care & support my wife received from the team in her last weeks gave our family & friends the time to laugh, to love, to talk, and to do the unfathomable, say goodbye,” said Grant.

“If Joan touched your life, and you’re able to make a donation however small, it would mean the world. ”

He then added: “We wish more than anything she was with us this Christmas.”

Richard E. Grant with wife Joan and their daughter Olivia

Grant penned an emotional tribute to his wife earlier this year in The Daily Mail.

The two met in 1982 when Grant begged Washington to take him on as a client, hoping to get rid of his accent after growing up in Swaziland.

She agreed, and after working with Grant went on to coach Emma Stone, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain.

“My heart is broken. Joan Washington had such a profound impact on me, yes as an artist, but mostly as a woman. I’ve looked toward her. Her strive towards excellence made her the celebrated dialect coach she was,” wrote Chastain on Twitter after Washington passed away on September 3. “Every day, I was excited to go to work and giggle with Joan. She was a barometer of truth with a wicked sense of humor. I loved her very much.”

Joan Washington and Jessica Chastain

Grant, 64, touchingly recalled the first time he visited Washington at her home.

“Joan and I continued eating and yakking, and I somehow managed to miss the midnight Tube back to my bedsit in Notting Hill from Richmond and so began our conversation which continued and lasted 38 years long, finally ending at 7.30 last Thursday evening, holding each other’s hands, telling her how much I loved her,” wrote the actor. “Unaware that her next inhalation would be her earthly last.”

He reveals that Washington was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer just a few days before Christmas, passing away just eight months later.

In addition to Grant, she leaves behind the couple’s daughter Olivia and a son Tom from a previous relationship.

“Our loss is incalculable. Your love is immeasurable. The depth of our grief is mirrored by the magnitude of our love,” Grant wrote to close out his tribute. “Goodbye, Monkee-mine. Do not forget us.”

Caring for Cancer Caregivers

Cancer often impacts every family member, and caretakers like Richard E. Grant, who care for cancer patients, face their own set of challenges.

Caregiving is the most important job in the universe, because you are there through the highs and lows,” Julie Bulger, manager of patient and family-centered care at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville previously told SurvivorNet. “You are there to support your loved one, to manage all of the daily tasks as everything is changing in your life.”

Cancer Caregivers Need to Care For Themselves

Caregiver burnout – the stress, anger, fatigue, and illness that can come from putting another person’s needs ahead of your own – is real. It can sneak up on you if you don’t take care of yourself. “It is important to have some things that you can do outside of the focus of caring for somebody that you love with cancer,” said Bulger.

She suggested that you take a walk. Get a massage. Visit a support group for cancer caregivers, either online or in person. And see a therapist if you’re struggling to cope with all of your new responsibilities. Joining a support group and building your support team is often an essential strategy and can help prevent or reduce the risk of caregiver burnout.

Know that you are doing vital work, and appreciate yourself for it. “There’s so much evidence that outcomes are better when somebody has an incredible caregiver by their side,” explained Bulger. Research also finds that caregivers who take good care of themselves provide the best quality of care. “So you are helping your loved one in more ways than you know.”

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Chris Spargo is a senior reporter at SurvivorNet. Read More