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Katie Couric opens up about her 1st husband's last days: 'I wish I had done a better job'

The former TODAY star said that she was "worried about letting go of hope" during husband Jay Monahan's last days.
/ Source: TODAY

In a candid interview with People magazine, former TODAY co-anchor Katie Couric opened up about how she coped with the passing of her husband Jay Monahan in 1998.

Monahan passed away from colon cancer at the age of 42. He and Couric were married for nine years and had two children together, Carrie and Ellie.

Couric said that more than two decades later, she's realized she was "too scared" to really face her husband's last days.

"I was so worried about letting go of hope, because I didn't want Jay to spend whatever time he had left just waiting to die," Couric, 64, said. "I think it takes extraordinary courage to be able to face death, and I think I was too scared, honestly."

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Katie Couric and husband Jay Monahan were married for nine years before his untimely passing. Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

In her upcoming memoir "Going There," which will be released in late October, Couric shared more details about how she reacted to Monahan's final moments.

"I did everything I could to keep Jay alive," Couric wrote. "Looking back, I wish I had done a better job helping him die."

Since Monahan's passing, Couric has co-founded Stand Up to Cancer and dedicated herself to raising awareness about colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States, and has claimed the lives of celebrities like Chadwick Boseman.

Couric told People that at the time of Jay's passing, she was able to cope by focusing on her work at TODAY.

"Working was my salvation," Couric said. "If I was doing a cooking segment, I couldn't be thinking about, you know, Jay's latest scan. It helped me maintain my sanity."

More than 20 years after Monahan's passing, Couric said that she has been able to heal and even find love again: She married banker John Molner in 2014.

Today - Season 65
Couric said that working at TODAY helped her "maintain (her) sanity" in the aftermath of her husband's passing.Peter Kramer / NBC

Despite her second marriage, Couric still keeps Monahan close to her heart. In January 2020, she honored what would have been his 64th birthday in a sweet Instagram post.

"Jay, we love you and miss you everyday," she wrote alongside old family photos.

Couric said she learned some important life lessons after Monahan's untimely death.

"I understand the fragility of life in a way that will always be with me," she said. "It also makes me realize the futility of being mad at somebody, of petty arguments. I always think about what David Cassidy said on his deathbed: 'So much wasted time.'"