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(Book Review) Modern Loss: Candid conversation about grief. Beginners welcome.

As you read this review, the odds are good that you've experienced a significant loss in your life.  If it hasn't happened already, it's coming.  The death of a loved one is a universal experience, but it's a devastating subject, and we often struggle to discuss it.   Everyone processes grief in a different way, and we are often far too uncomfortable to know where/how to start a conversation about it.  That can lead to survivors adding isolation to the list of challenges they're facing.   Well, Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner are here to help with that problem, with their amazing new book, Modern Loss: Candid conversation about Grief.  Beginners welcome.

Soffer and Birkner are the cofounders of Modern Loss, a website that offers resources and support for handling loss and grief.  Both women are experienced in the subject.  Soffer's mother was killed in a car accident on the way home from a family vacation, and her father died a few years later.  Birkner's father and step-mother were killed during a home invasion by a plumbing contractor who was high on methamphetamine. 

The two teamed up in 2013 to create the Modern Loss site, with the goal of demystifying the grieving process and to assure people drowning in pain, that there is life after tragedy.  That's not to say there's a predetermined point at which one will find closure, or that closure is even a goal.  It's that the person is not broken (although it certainly may feel that way), and there is the opportunity to still live their lives while simultaneously dealing with their pain over the long term.

Modern Loss is a collection of more than 40 essays from people talking about their loss and how they continue to deal with it, whether the loved one died recently or 10 years ago.  The stories involve losing partners, parents, siblings, children, and others under a variety of circumstances.  The writers come from all types of  backgrounds, and each story is different, but they will ring true with anyone who has lost someone close to them.  Discussions include the impact of death on those left behind, triggers for survivors afterwards, the relationship between loss and sex, secrets we keep in the aftermath, inheritances, finding support, moving forward, and more.   There are also comics on a number of topics between sections.  (The personal favorite is "A Brief Guide to Griefspeak.")

The honesty of each essay is breathtaking.   All of the stories are moving.  Some/many/all of them may leave the reader misty-eyed, but there's also a healthy dose of warmth and humor throughout the book, which helps make this intimidating topic more accessible.  

If you've experienced a loss, you want this book.  If it hasn't happened to you yet, do yourself a favor and get this book.

Highly recommended.


Modern Loss coverA book everyone will need at some point.  (pic via Harper Wave)


  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Wave (January 23, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062499181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062499189



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