Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Modern Loss

I picked this book for review for a couple of reasons, I liked the cover, and I liked the topic. There are a lot of books out there about grief but this one felt different.

Modern Loss - Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner

Inspired by the website that the New York Times hailed as "redefining mourning," this book is a fresh and irreverent examination into navigating grief and resilience in the age of social media, offering comfort and community for coping with the mess of loss through candid original essays from a variety of voices, accompanied by gorgeous two-color illustrations and wry infographics.

At a time when we mourn public figures and national tragedies with hashtags, where intimate posts about loss go viral and we receive automated birthday reminders for dead friends, it’s clear we are navigating new terrain without a road map.

Let’s face it: most of us have always had a difficult time talking about death and sharing our grief. We’re awkward and uncertain; we avoid, ignore, or even deny feelings of sadness; we offer platitudes; we send sympathy bouquets whittled out of fruit.

Enter Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner, who can help us do better. Each having lost parents as young adults, they co-founded Modern Loss, responding to a need to change the dialogue around the messy experience of grief. Now, in this wise and often funny book, they offer the insights of the Modern Loss community to help us cry, laugh, grieve, identify, and—above all—empathize.

Soffer and Birkner, along with forty guest contributors including Lucy Kalanithi, singer Amanda Palmer, and CNN’s Brian Stelter, reveal their own stories on a wide range of topics including triggers, sex, secrets, and inheritance. Accompanied by beautiful hand-drawn illustrations and witty "how to" cartoons, each contribution provides a unique perspective on loss as well as a remarkable life-affirming message.

Brutally honest and inspiring, Modern Loss invites us to talk intimately and humorously about grief, helping us confront the humanity (and mortality) we all share. Beginners welcome.

It's not every day that you say you've just read a book about grief that was funny. Not only funny but makes jokes about the topic and leaves you feeling like you hope you get to grieve soon to turn it around like this. No mistake, grief is gut wrenching and awful, it's a punch to the gut, the stripping of every boundary you have, but it can be so much more than that. 

This is not your traditional how to book on how to grief and go through the phases of grief, but it is a collection of rather short essays about grief, death, and trauma. Grief doesn't always mean there's been a death but it can mean the change from one phase to another. If you lose a long term relationship, you grieve that. If you have a traumatic event happen to you and you've become different (emotionally or physically) you grieve what could have been while trying to accept what is. Spread out over the book are cartoons to lighten the mood, and my favorite was page 190 called, "There's No Will. What the Bleep Do I Do Now?" HA! The book makes you feel wrong at laughing as people are telling you their stories of grief but it feels so right. 

I was most interested in the section about triggers. If you've followed my story for awhile, you know that I have PTSD among a litany of mental health issues and one thing I'm struggling with are triggers. Are pregnant women always going to be a trigger for me? Why are baby blankets and empty lotion bottles a trigger? I feel crazy. This explores the nonsense that are triggers, some are legitimate and obvious, some aren't, but they are important and play a role in recovery. You can use a trigger for good instead of evil, so to speak. I'm not quite there yet but I'm trying. (At the same time I'm stimulating the economy and keeping a mental health professional employed. HA!) 

Overall? I'm giving this one a solid 4.5/5 stars. My only knock is that it's a bit long and a few essays were meh so they could have been excluded, but for the mot part, this is kind of a great book to give to someone who is dealing with grief. It's not your run of the mill, "everything happens for a reason, you'll be fine" but it's more, "you might not be fine but some of the best people are teetering on the edge and it's totally cool". It takes the pressure off from being OK quicker than you need to be. 

You can find your copy of Modern Loss on the HarperCollins website as well, a handy little site full of tremendous books that will keep you busy for quite awhile.


Ruth said...

A lot of people are not good at grief. I like talking about my sister, but many people don't know how to respond. It's like they don't think the dead should be talked about. It is coming up on the anniversary of her brain hemorrhage and that day changed everything. She would never be the same. I grieved that and months later, her death.

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm looking forward to reading this one. Loss and grief are so challenging, and no one deals with them the same way. It is often hard to know what to say to someone who is struggling. Books like this can really be helpful to me.

Thanks for being a part of the tour.