GREY'S ANATOMY star Ellen Pompeo insists she owes Madonna a huge debt of gratitude, because the pop queen made her aware it was "OK" to grieve for her late mother.
Pompeo was just four years old when her mother died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, and her family subsequently chose never to talk about their loss.
But when Pompeo later saw Madonna talking about the death of her own mother, she was inspired by her courage and positive attitude.
And when she recently spotted the RAY OF LIGHT star in the flesh, she was determined to thank her personally.
She says, "She's the only person I've ever approached - she had such an impact on my life as a kid. She lost her mother too and came on MTV when I was 13 saying it was OK to be sad.
"Our family had handled my mother's death in a traditional, never-speak-of-her-again kind of way. It was only when I heard Madonna that I thought, 'That's it. I've never really grieved for my mother.'
"She gave me permission to do that and I wanted her to know how much it had helped me. She's just fantastic."