Jean Smart Says Being a Single Mother Has Been 'Unimaginable': 'Hardest Thing I've Ever Done'

Jean Smart shares 13-year-old Forrest with her late husband, actor Richard Gilliland, who died March 2021

jean smart son

Jean Smart is opening up about motherhood since the death of her husband, actor Richard Gilliland, who died in March 2021 at age 71.

Speaking to reporters at Sunday's 2022 Screen Actors Guild Awards, the 70-year-old actress got candid about adjusting to her role as a single mother. She shares 13-year-old Forrest with her late husband. (Smart is also mom to son Connor, 31.)

"Well, certainly losing my husband was very unexpected, not something that I thought would happen for at least another 20 years. And having a young child, it's been unimaginable," she said. "Being a single mother is the hardest thing I've ever done. But we were both actors and, you know, the work has brought me great satisfaction and a great distraction certainly from my grief."

"I work with the most loving, wonderful people who have just supported me and loved me and helped me through all of this, and so this is ... I just feel so fortunate, you know, to be where I am right now," Smart added. "It's just hard to put any meaning to this year, it's just been such incredible highs and incredible lows. I try not to overanalyze it too much."

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jean smart and son

Smart attended the SAG Awards with her teenager by her side. During the ceremony, she gave both of her children a shout out while accepting her award for outstanding female actor in a comedy series.

"This has been such a joy, this late in the game it's such a treat," Smart said. "To my two children, Forest and Connor, you are my life and please everybody, let's pray for peace thank you."

Back in September, the Hacks star also attended the 2021 Emmys with Forrest. The two both dressed in chic black outfits for the event, the actress sporting a long black dress with a sheer turtleneck while her child opted for a black suit and blue undershirt.

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While walking the red carpet, the duo chatted with E! about Smart's nominations, where Forrest said he's "very proud of her" and that she "really deserves" the awards as she "worked really hard for everything."

The event marked Smart's first awards ceremony since the death of her husband in March.

Gilliland, who was wed to actress Smart for nearly 34 years, suffered from a "brief illness" prior to his death in Los Angeles, according to a press release shared with PEOPLE at the time.

Prior to his death, Gilliland and Smart were slated to work together again this summer in a film directed by Tate Taylor.

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