On the day after what would have been Joan Rivers‘ 82nd birthday, Melissa Rivers spoke out on her late mother’s legacy, the wrongful death lawsuit she’s filed against the hospital where she died and her final moments.
Rivers appeared on CNN’s “New Day” to discuss her mother, whom she remembers in her new book, “The Book of Joan,” which has spent five weeks on the New York Times’ bestsellers list.
“It was terrifying and daunting at the beginning,” Rivers said of writing the book, which she describes as a series of essays and remembrances. “But it forced me to sit down at every writing session and think about funny things. So it was almost forced laughter therapy.”
The iconic comedienne and TV personality died in September after she stopped breathing during throat surgery. The elder Rivers’ death was ruled a “predictable complication of medical therapy” by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office.
Though most of the book’s entries are funny, according to Melissa Rivers, there were also poignant moments. For example, she wrote extensively about her mother’s final moments, and called making the decision to pull her off of life support “very difficult.”
“Sometimes through these events in your life you become sort of an ‘expert’ on things you never wanted to be. I learned in one week more about traumatic brain injury than I ever cared to learn about,” Rivers shared. “We knew what the situation was and at that point, it becomes clear what you need to do. Plus, my mother had a very extensive living will. So in a way she gave me the strange gift of not having to make the ‘decision.’ I knew so clearly what her wishes were. That is such a gift.”
Rivers has since filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the Yorkville Endoscopy center where her mother’s ultimately fatal throat procedure was performed.
“What’s most important to me is that what happened — what allegedly happened — doesn’t happen again,” she said. “It’s not just about my mother, it’s about moving forward.”