Gabrielle Birkner and Rebecca Soffer in conversation with Jessica Handler
Decatur Library Auditorium
April 25, 2018, 7:15p.m.
Let’s face it: most of us have 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. And at a time when we mourn public figures and national tragedies with hashtags, when intimate posts about loss go viral and we receive automated birthday reminders for dead friends, it’s clear we are exploring this modern landscape of loss without a road map. Enter Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner, who can help us do better. Each having lost parents as young adults, they co-founded the website 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 more than forty guest contributors, including rocker Amanda Palmer, CNN’s Brian Stelter, and Dr. Lucy Kalanithi (widow of When Breath Becomes Air author Paul Kalanithi), reveal their own stories on a wide range of topics, such as triggers, intimacy, secrets, inheritance, and more. 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. Gabrielle and Rebecca will be led in conversation by Jessica Handler, author of Invisible Sisters and Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief.