Celine Dion's many tragic struggles revealed

She's been blessed with one of the most beautiful voices in the world, but Celine Dion has faced numerous tragedies throughout her life. From her humble upbringing, to medical issues that have threatened to derail her career, to the tragic deaths of not only her beloved husband, but also several other close family members, these heartbreaking moments will bring a tear to the eye of her many fans. 

Amazingly, Dion has weathered all these challenges with an arguably unparalleled level of grace. As of this writing, she has even returned to her Las Vegas residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace where she's long-surpassed a jaw-dropping 1,000 shows. Given Dion's phenomenal success and perseverance in an industry in which it's so easy to fail, you may be surprised at the adversity and circumstances this amazing singer has had to face. These are Celine Dion's many tragic struggles revealed. 

Losing the love of her life

Celine Dion's husband and manager, Rene Angelil, lost his battle with throat cancer in January 2016, two days before his 74th birthday, at the family's home in Las Vegas. According to Billboard, Angelil, who previously made a go at a career in pop music in Canada during the 1960s, first met Dion when she was just 12 years old. Dion reportedly sent him a demo of her singing a song she wrote "with her mother and brother." According to Dion, Angelil wept upon hearing her voice. Years into their working relationship, Angelil and Dion developed romantic feelings for each other and began dating when Dion was 19 years old. They were married in December 1994 in a lavish — and televised — ceremony in Montreal, the same Church at which Angelil's funeral was held.

After Angelil's passing, a grief-stricken Dion often broke down in tears as she honored the man who guided her iconic career. "He's always been on stage with me," she told the crowd at her first Las Vegas show following Angelil's death, reported People. "And nothing will ever change that." The couple had three sons together: Rene-Charles and twins Nelson and Eddy.

Tragedy strikes twice

In a devastating twist of events, Celine Dion's brother, Daniel Dion, died of complications from brain, throat, and tongue cancer just two days after Rene Angelil's death. Daniel was 59 years old.

Celine attended the memorial for Daniel — who was one of her 13 siblings — in Repentigny, Canada, the day after her husband was laid to rest. The "My Heart Will Go On" singer did not attend Daniel's funeral two days later because "she and her children could not continue two more days of public mourning," reported Entertainment Tonight. Reflecting on the rapid succession of losing both her husband and brother, the singer has thankfully arrived at a place of peace while coming to terms with their deaths. "Rene escorted my brother — It was perfect," Celine told People in May 2016. "[Rene] took him under his wings and he said 'You know, I'll take good care of him.'"

She shared tragedy with her sister as well

Just eight months after Celine Dion's beloved husband and brother both died of cancer, the "Because You Love Me" singer's brother-in-law also succumbed to cancer, which had "spread to his lung, brain and bones." Speaking with Echos Vedettes magazine (via The Toronto Sun), Dion said that her sister Liette's husband, Guy Poirier, was treated at the Maison Adhemar-Dion, "a palliative care unit" near Montreal that is named after Dion's late father, who was also treated there. Poirier died in August 2016.

Hello! reported that the loss was unfortunately not the only one Dion shared with her sister. In 1993, Dion's 16-year-old niece (Liette and Guy's daughter) Karine died from complications related to cystic fibrosis. Speaking with People, Dion recalled her niece's passing. "I had her in my arms and I started to sing softly in her ear, and out of nowhere her eyes closed," Dion said. "I looked at my mom, who was massaging her feet because her circulation didn't work, and nodded, 'Okay, it's happening.' One tear came down Karine's cheek, and then she went."

Decades of medical troubles

Prior to his death, Rene Angelil's health had been an ongoing issue for nearly 20 years. According to People, he was "diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma on a lymph gland in his neck" in 1999. In response to his diagnosis, Celine Dion — who was at the peak of her career — put the music business on hold so she could care for her husband. After a reported "38 rounds of chemotherapy and radiation," Angelil was declared cancer-free in 2000.

Angelil battled throat cancer a second time in 2013. According to the Las Vegas Sun, he underwent a successful surgery to remove a tumor from his throat and was once again said to be "in full remission." However, in August 2014, the couple confirmed that Angelil was fighting the illness again. Dion to put both her Las Vegas residency and upcoming tour on hold to be with her ailing husband.

Losing a parent is never easy

Celine Dion suffered a tragic loss at the end of 2003, when her 80-year-old father, Adhemar Dion, died in his home. His death reportedly came after "a lengthy illness," reported Hello! The following year, Celine confirmed to Larry King that her father also battled cancer. She told the longtime CNN host that she felt an intuition that her father was going to pass when he did, which she took as a sign from him that he "said good-bye" to her. "It's very difficult, when you lose a parent, when you lose a close, close, close one," Celine said. "Even though if you expect it, you can never be prepared for it."

Canadian TV host Michel Jasmin told Hello! that Adhemar was "transformed" from "her father to a fan" when Celine took the stage to sing. "It was incredible to watch." As a tribute to him, she performed on the day he passed. Celine then returned to her family's hometown of Charlemagne, Canada, to attend his funeral, where her sister, Manon Dion, reportedly "sang the communion hymn." 

A long road to motherhood

Throughout her marriage, Celine Dion and Rene Angelil struggled to have children. The couple turned to in-vitro fertilization treatments to conceive all three of their sons. One of their biggest struggles came in 2009, when Dion and Angelil suffered a miscarriage. Despite the heartbreak, Dion kept an optimistic outlook when speaking to Oprah Winfrey a month later. "It's life," she said. "A lot of people go through this. We tried four times to have a child. We're still trying." 

In a happy turn of events, the couple announced in May 2010 that it was expecting twins. Dion's twin sons, Nelson and Eddy Angelil, were born Oct. 23, 2010.

She temporarily lost her instrument

In February 2012, Celine Dion was forced to cancel several months of performances for her Las Vegas residency after she was diagnosed with "weakness in her right vocal chord, secondary to a viral illness," according to UPI. Dion was put on six to eight weeks of vocal rest; her show did not resume until June that year. Despite the health scare, she told Today that she did not fear losing her ability to sing. "I don't depend on my vocal cords," Dion said. "I don't depend on my success and my singing." She added, "Don't get me wrong. I love what I do. But I don't hold on to that. When you have children, you have accomplished a lot."

It's a good thing Dion has that perspective, since another medical condition in her middle ear that required surgery kept her from the stage for nearly a month in early 2018. She addressed the setback on her Facebook page, writing, "My luck hasn't been very good lately ... I apologize to everyone who planned to travel to Las Vegas to see my show. I know how disappointing this is, and I'm so sorry."

Her family 'never had money' but was rich in other ways

Celine Dion may be one of the richest and most successful singers of all time, but the Canadian-born singer's early days were anything but. The youngest of 14 children, Dion and her family grew up in a small home where money was tight — and space was even tighter. 

"My mum was brilliant enough to put a pillow in a drawer for a baby to sleep in," she told Vanity Fair in 2012. Despite Dion's humble beginnings, she has reflected on her childhood with nothing but love. "We were safe and warm and taken care of," she said. "Three or four of us in the same bed was normal to us. We weren't poor, but we never had money. I don't know if that makes sense. We were given love and affection and support. What else did we need?"