Nate Berkus reflects on the death of his partner in tsunami in Sri Lanka

'It made me a better person, it made me a more compassionate person'

Nate Berkus reflects on the death of his partner in tsunami in Sri Lanka
18 February 2013

Nate Berkus became a familiar face to viewers of The Oprah Winfrey Show more than a decade ago as an interior designer who was a frequent guest on the show.

But it wasn’t until December 2004 that his personal life became a lot more public. He and his partner, photographer Fernando Bengoechea were vacationing at a beach resort in Sri Lanka when the Indian Ocean tsunami hit. While Berkus survived, Bengoechea went missing and is presumed dead.

Berkus appeared on Winfrey’s daytime show a month later to talk about his ordeal and the loss of his love.

Now eight years later, he discussed the painful topic again with Winfrey in part two of an interview on her OWN network which aired Sunday (17 February).

‘The witnessing [of his passing] was a gift,’ Berkus said. ‘It made me a better person, it made me a more compassionate person.’

Winfrey went to visit Berkus a few days after he returned from Sri Lanka and recalled her words which then, and now, provided great comfort: ‘You said to me, ‘when the soul gets what it came to get, it goes.”

He explained: ‘Here was a person who had left Argentina to live in Brazil, who had traveled around the globe, who truly had never had established his own family and life on his own terms. And all of a sudden, I was ‘home’ to him. I represented ‘home’ metaphysically, physically, everything. And he had gotten what he came to get by being with me.’

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