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Molly Shannon, Carson Daly share a touching moment reflecting on losing a parent at a young age

The actor and the TODAY co-host shared how losing a parent when they were both children affected their lives as adults.

Carson Daly and actor and comedian Molly Shannon both know what it's like to lose a parent as young kids.

The TODAY co-host and the "Saturday Night Live" alumna shared an emotional moment on TODAY Monday when talking about how that tragic loss resonates with them now as adults and parents themselves.

Shannon, 57, writes in her new memoir, "Hello Molly!" about the loss of her mother when she was 4 years old. Her mother, younger sister and a cousin died in a car accident in which her father was driving. Her father also sustained serious injuries that required him to relearn how to walk.

"Some people say if that didn’t happen, would you have still gone into comedy or performing, and I really don’t know," Shannon said. "But I do think that it gave me like a resilience in show business. When things got kind of tough, I was like, ‘Well, nothing could be as bad as when I was little,’ so it gave me a certain bounce-ability."

Carson, 48, lost his father, James "J.D." Daly, to bladder cancer in 1979 when he was 5 years old.

Carson Daly re-created an old photo on TODAY in 2020 of his father, James "J.D." Daly, who died when Carson was five.
Carson Daly re-created an old photo on TODAY in 2020 of his father, James "J.D." Daly, who died when Carson was five.TODAY

"My whole adult life I've tried to figure out what impact did that have on my life now, my mental health and everything else," he said.

Shannon writes in her book that she is "grateful" for the time she had with her mother, even if it was only for a short period as a young child that can be hard to remember.

"That part makes me a little sad, but I think when you lose a parent when you're so young, you have such a sense of how precious life is, and a kind of urgency," an emotional Shannon said. "I think that makes me appreciative of people being alive, and time with people, and just appreciating the time on earth we do have with people."

Carson is now a father of four who said he cherishes his time with his children in the knowledge that his own father only had that for a short time. Shannon understands the feeling, as she is a mother of two.

"Now that I'm a mom to Stella and Nolan, my two kids, and getting to live way beyond the years my mother lived, (it) gives me such a sense of comfort and doing all these things that she didn't get to do," Shannon said. "It's a wonderful feeling."

In her book, Shannon also details her life growing up in Ohio to make it to "SNL," where she was a cast member from 1995-2001. She shared some advice on Monday for others aspiring to break into the business who may face the type of repeated rejection she did before breaking through.

"I said, 'At least I'm out here in California pursuing my dreams, trying for what I want — that's something," she said. "And even if I don't ever really make it, at least pursuing what I'm passionate about is meaningful and important. I realized I'm just going to keep trying until I'm a grandmother because that's a good life too, to at least be brave and go for what you want."