This week on The Ladies Room, we tackle the one thing we all deal with but still struggle to talk about: death. Even writing the word right now makes me feel awkward and uncertain. When we do talk about it, we blurt out platitudes, lower our voices or say nothing at all. Enter Rebecca Soffer and her book Modern Loss.
Modern Loss grew out of Rebecca and her co-author Gabrielle Birkner's experiences with sudden loss as young adults. Rebecca’s mother was killed in a car accident and her dad died of a heart attack leaving her parentless at 34. Gabi’s father and stepmother were brutally murdered in a home invasion. Both women longed to find something to soothe their pain but all the books on loss were clinical, patronizing or cheesy. So they wrote the book they wished they had.
The unofficial mantra of Modern Loss is show, don't tell — which is why there's no advice in the book, only the firsthand, beautifully written personal stories. Soffer and Birkner share their stories, along with the stories of more than 40 other contributors, including Lucy Kalanithi (widow of When Breath Becomes Air author Paul Kalanithi), stylist Stacy London, rocker Amanda Palmer, Girls writer and comedian Yassir Lester, CNN’s Brian Stelter, WNBA All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw, Kim Goldman (sister of Ron Goldman), and Michael Greif (director of the 2017 Tony Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen).
With beautiful hand-drawn illustrations and witty “how to” cartoons by artist Peter Arkle, Modern Loss is a funny, fresh, and honest examination of death and grieving in our culture. As Rebecca told me in our interview in The Ladies Room, "You’re not broken, life will go on, and it can actually be pretty rewarding."