Tragic Details About Celine Dion

Before she became a pop music icon, powerhouse vocalist Céline Dion was a kid in a small town with a dream. The Charlemagne, Québec, native began her music career at the age of 12 and shot to stardom in the '90s with songs on the soundtracks to "Beauty and the Beast," and "Titanic," among many other hits. As if her once-in-a-generation voice wasn't enough to secure her status as a legend, the five-time Grammy winner also has an impeccable sense of style, boasts a sharp but quirky sense of humor, and can put on a show like no one else. "I just saw her in Vegas, and it's literally like you're listening to a record," fellow superstar singer Kelly Clarkson declared on a 2019 episode of her talk show. "She's perfection at its finest."

In late 2022, Dion was forced to cancel her world tour due to health issues, but that is just the latest in a string of misfortune the singer has endured. From the loss of loved ones, to trouble conceiving, to living with a disease that affects one in a million people, Dion has been a pillar of strength in the face of tragedy.

Both of her parents died from serious health issues

Céline Dion's father, Adhémar Dion, died of bone cancer in 2003 at the age of 80. The day he died, she honored Adhémar at her Las Vegas residency. "My dad was, and still is, my number one fan," she told the audience. The following year, she spoke of her grief with Larry King. "It's very difficult when you lose a parent, when you lose a close, close, close one," she said. "Even though if you expect it, you can never be prepared for it." Per the Associated Press (via People), she took some time off from her residency to attend her late father's funeral and mourn with her family. 

Céline has continued to celebrate her father over the years. In 2012, she released a song called "Parler à mon père" ("Talking to My Father") as a tribute to Adhémar. And in 2018, she shared a sweet Instagram birthday post featuring a picture of her hugging her dad. "Papa, you would have been 95 years old today," she wrote. "I think of you and I love you."

In 2020, Céline's mother, Thérèse Tanguay-Dion, died at the age of 92 of Alzheimer's. The night of her mother's death, Céline spoke of Thérèse at a concert. "I must admit, I'm a little shaky today," she said to the crowd. "On behalf of my brothers and sisters and all of the family, we would love to dedicate the show to her."

In 2016, Céline Dion's husband died

Céline Dion's husband, René Angélil, died due to complications from throat cancer in 2016. They first met when a 12-year-old Dion sent Angélil a tape of a song she'd written with her mother. Angélil, a music producer and manager, immediately took Dion on as a client, and the pair had a close working relationship that became romantic over time, despite their 26-year age difference. They married in 1994, even though her mother did not approve of the union. "It was not the person that she wanted for me," Dion told "The Sunday Project." "And I don't blame her... I said mum, I really love him. It hurts inside."

Angélil was first diagnosed with cancer in 1998, and after receiving treatment, the cancer returned in 2013. "For three years my husband did not have a sip of water and food. He was eating through a tube," she recalled. "I wanted him to leave in peace, I wanted him to feel so light and no worries. He had a little heart attack, it's so quick, he didn't even feel anything. I thought that he was like liberated from his pain."

Dion, who had put her career on hold while caring for her ailing husband, returned to the stage for her Las Vegas residency a month after Angélil's death. As reported by People, she told the crowd, "We were one. And nothing has changed, we will always be one."

Celine Dion's brother also died in 2016

While Céline Dion was mourning the loss of her one true love, she was hit with another heartbreak. A mere two days after René Angélil's death, Céline's older brother Daniel Dion died of cancer at age 59. Daniel, the father of two daughters, had been diagnosed with brain, throat, and tongue cancer. He died on January 16, 2016, which would have been Angélil's 74th birthday. Céline, despite her immense grief, believed the timing of the two tragedies to be the work of fate. "René escorted my brother," she told People later that year. "It was perfect." In a separate interview with ABC News, she called it "one last parting gift" from her longtime partner. "I said to myself, 'for his birthday, my husband came and got my brother because my brother was too weak to fly on his own,'" she shared. 

Céline also spoke of how she comforted her 89-year-old mother amid the loss. "I said, 'You know what Mom? ... You took his hand from the beginning to the end,'" she recalled to People. The singer added that if one of her sons was sick, she'd want to be by his side as well. "If I see one of my sons dying and I know he's gonna die, I want to be there to give him a hand. Then I'll deal with my own feelings," she said, showing a level of truly admirable strength.

The tragic bond Céline Dion shares with her sister

2016 was a devastating time for the Dion family. Céline Dion lost both her husband and her brother to cancer within days of each other. That same year, her brother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. Guy Poirier, husband of Céline's sister Liette Dion, died that August after cancer had spread to his lungs, brain, and bones.

Like Céline, Liette has suffered a great deal of personal tragedy. In 1993, Liette's daughter Karine, who had cystic fibrosis, died when she was just 16. Dion and Karine were incredibly close, and Karine died in Céline's arms. "I started to sing softly in her ear, and out of nowhere her eyes closed ... One tear came down Karine's cheek, and then she went," Céline shared with People. The heartbreaking loss led to Dion becoming Cystic Fibrosis Canada's Celebrity Patron, a position she has held for over 30 years. Her song "Fly," which appears on 1996's "Falling Into You," is in honor of Karine's memory. 

Health issues affected Céline Dion's voice

Céline Dion has one of the most distinct and powerful voices in modern music, but over the years she has experienced bouts of illness that affected her singing. In 2012, Dion was diagnosed with a weak vocal cord, resulting in her having to cancel ten shows. The vocal cord issue was caused by a viral infection for which vocal rest was prescribed. "I tried to sing at my sound check last week, and I had no control of my voice whatsoever," Dion revealed in a statement at the time, per The Hollywood Reporter.

In 2018, Dion once again had to cancel several shows due to issues with her voice. A statement issued via a Facebook post read, in part, "Céline has been dealing with a condition in her middle ear known as Patulous Eustachian tube, which causes hearing irregularities, and makes it extremely difficult to sing." According to the post, Dion had been suffering from the condition for over a year, and would need to undergo a surgical procedure.

Two months later, Dion was back on stage where she was greeted with a standing ovation. "You know it's been a while since we've done a show I had a little health issue — don't we all," she told the supportive crowd, as reported by People.

For years, Céline Dion endured fertility struggles

Céline Dion is the proud mom of three sons — René-Charles and twins Nelson and Eddy — whom she shares with her late husband René Angélil. But the road to motherhood was a rocky one for Dion, wrought with frustration and disappointment. It took six years of trying to conceive before Dion turned to IVF treatments. After her son René-Charles was born in 2001, Dion told Hello! magazine, "So many people were wishing us success after the years of disappointment that I felt as if they were all carrying the baby with me."

While Dion and Angélil were thrilled to become parents, their next attempts to conceive were just as difficult and painful as Dion suffered a miscarriage in 2009. Dion opened up about her miscarriage on Oprah, with a very pragmatic attitude. "A lot of people go through this, but it's not being told because it's not in [the] newspaper," she said. She shared that she and her husband were still trying and in the midst of their fifth attempt. Finally, after six rounds of IVF treatments, Dion gave birth to fraternal twins Nelson and Eddy. Regarding the experience of being a mom, she once told People, "It is what I enjoy the most. It is my most amazing reward."

Céline Dion was diagnosed with a rare disease

In December 2022, Céline Dion revealed that she had been diagnosed with a rare disease called stiff person syndrome. Céline made her announcement via an emotional video posted on Instagram, explaining that the neurological disorder affects something like one in a million people and had been causing her to have serious muscle spasms. "Unfortunately, the spasms affect every aspect of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing the way I'm used to," she said.

In addition to muscle spasms, SPS can cause muscle rigidity, sensitivity to light and sound, and anxiety, according to CNN Health. In her Instagram post, Céline said she was working with a great team of doctors, but she would not be ready to perform as planned. "It hurts me to tell you that I won't be ready to restart my tour in Europe in February," she said.

In May of 2023, Céline made the decision to cancel her Courage World Tour dates through 2024. In July 2023, Céline's sister Claudette Dion gave an update on her sister's condition. "We can't find medicine, but giving hope, I find that is important," she shared with Le Journal de Montréal. She added, "She always goes above all, she always tries to be the greatest, the strongest." Her fans can certainly attest to that.