Speaking to PEOPLE, the storied actress reflects on what happened to her son and how she’s coped all these years. “At first we didn’t recognize the behavior — the sleeping and the bouts of anger that would come up all of a sudden with this charming, darling boy. I was scared to death,” says Eden. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Unfortunately, Matthew was too young to know he needed help or rehab, Eden continued. Saying she was surprised he lived to be 35, she then talked about the whirlwind of emotions she went through. “I don’t think there’s anything worse than to lose your child. As a parent, I had a lot of guilt and anger, and following his death I was always on the edge of tears. Even though he was 35, he was still my baby.”
Her son passing away on June 25, 2001, Barbara Eden then talked about how she dealt with her grief. She said she first spoke to parents who went through the same pain she did. However, more than anything, her friends and family helped her find happiness again.
“I have dear friends,” Eden continues. “I have a wonderful family, a very supportive husband. A dog who is adorable, but a brat! Yes, I’m very happy. I think life, everything, has to work itself out. There’s a reason for most things, and I can’t wish for it.”
Barbara Eden Describes How Her Successful 30-Year Marriage Works
To put things simply, “I think you have to like each other a lot. No, you really do,” Eden bluntly states. While that may seem obvious, she expands on it, by saying even if you don’t share the same hobbies or interests, it’s good to compromise and try new things. “I don’t play golf. I don’t like to watch baseball… and he loves to watch the (Los Angeles) Angels. But I do because I love him. And I like him. So I’ll watch with him.”
Additionally, she stresses individuality, being yourself, and appreciating who you are as a person. “You’ve got to be true to yourself — don’t try to be anyone else. The wonderful thing is we’re all different. At the beginning of my career I said, ‘Oh gosh, I’m supposed to be taller or prettier than I am.’ That’s silly! You’re treading water — you’re not making headway with what you are.”