Rebecca Soffer, co-founder of the Modern Loss Community, started becoming an expert in grief the moment she learned that her mother Shelby was killed in a car crash. Her expertise expanded when four years later, her father Ray died of a heart attack while traveling.
As a single woman in her early thirties, Rebecca needed to talk about her grief, and she really needed to hear others talk about theirs. It was this longing for an ongoing conversation and led her, along with co-founder Gabi Birkner, to start the Modern Loss Community.
Nine years later, Rebecca just published her second book - The Modern Loss Handbook: An Interactive Guide to Moving Through Grief and Building Your Resilience. It's the kind of book that many people are looking for in their grief - filled with prompts for writing, drawing, and movement practices to help people stay connected to themselves, their people who died, and the world around them.
Follow Modern Loss and Rebecca on Facebook, IG, and Twitter.
In grief land, lots of groups are talked about as invisible or forgotten. Children, parents grieving a miscarriage, ex-partners, and siblings. For siblings, their grief often exists in the shadow of their parents – or it’s at least treated that way by others.
Jordon Ferber ran into that when his younger brother, Russell, died when Russell was 21. While Jordon’s parents recognized that Jordon needed support just as much as they did, the rest of his sphere started where most people do, with the question, “How are your parents?”
Jordon is the host and creator of the Where's the Grief? podcast. He's also a longtime facilitator for a sibling grief support group through The Compassionate Friends.
Follow Jordon on IG & Facebook.
**Note: this episode contains salty language.**
Meghan Riordan Jarvis, LCSW, is a trauma-informed psychotherapist with over 20 years of clinical experience who harbored the same secret wish. A wish which imploded when her mother died in 2019, just two years after her dad died of cancer. While Meghan’s training and clinical acumen didn’t prevent her from experiencing grief, they did enable her to recognize when she started to develop PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder – and that she needed additional help.
In our conversation, we talk about:
- What was different about grieving after her father’s death vs. her mother’s.
- How she recognized the signs of PTSD and the treatment she sought out.
- The concept of “meaning making” and how it’s important to clarify what types of meaning are supportive and which can be harmful.
In addition to being a trauma therapist, Meghan is a fellow grief podcaster and her show is called Grief Is My Side Hustle. Her memoir is due to be out in the world in 2023.
Lingering. Shivering. Simmering. Splintering.
These are the words DJ Arsene Versailles wrote to describe grief after his mother, Florcie Yves Versailles, died of COVID-19 in May of 2020. This grief was and continues to be layered - as most grief is - and some of these layers are specific to his mom being a Black woman who died during a pandemic, of a disease that has come to be so much more than just a medical diagnosis.
DJ's mom was committed to social justice and this inspired him to do similar work in the wake of her death. After meeting Kristin Urquiza, co-founder of Marked by COVID, he became involved in their effort to establish a COVID Memorial Day.
Anne Gudger was pregnant with her first child, Jake, when her husband Kent died in a car crash. Years later she met and married Scott and they had a daughter, Maria. Fast forward to March of 2020, the beginning of the pandemic, when Anne and Maria found themselves drinking a lot of coffee and talking about grief. Those conversations inspired them to start Coffee and Grief, a Facebook group for folks wanting to connect around loss. The Facebook group grew into a series of curated readings called Coffee Talk where writers share short pieces about anything in the realm of grief.
Maria and Anne are funny and warm and somehow make talking about grief feel comfortable.
In our conversation we discuss:
Read Anne's writing at Anne Gudger
There are a lot of things in life that are difficult to describe. That’s why it can feel so gratifying when someone gives voice to something that we can barely grasp for ourselves. Kathryn Schulz is used to finding the right words. She is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margins of Error. She won a National Magazine Award and a Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for “The Really Big One,” an article about seismic risk in the Pacific Northwest. Her newest book, Lost & Found, applies that precision to the emotional earthquakes of losing her father Isaac, falling in love with her now wife Casey, and the and of life continuing on with both grief and love.
We talk about the legacy of curiosity and wonder that Kathryn’s father passed down to her, why the word "lost" felt the most apt to her in grief, becoming a parent without her father, and how she continues to find wonder and hope in the world.
Brittany Collin's father died of breast cancer the summer before her sophomore year of high school, Like many students who are grieving, she had educators who responded in ways that were helpful and those who didn't know what to do or say. In the end, the most supportive reactions provided ongoing opportunities to express herself and connection with adults who cared.
Brittany’s high school experience helped shape her educational and career choices, leading her to becom an author, educator, and curriculum designer. Her work focuses on supporting teachers and students’ social and emotional well-being, especially in times of adversity. Her new book, Learning from Loss, A Trauma-Informed Approach to Supporting Grieving Students is the culmination of this work.
Follow Brittany on IG @griefresponsiveteaching & Twitter @brcollins27
In 2016, when they were in their late twenties, Janine Kwoh's partner died. Nap's death launched her into a new world of grief. Janine was the first person in her peer group to have a partner die and she felt confused and isolated. Because we live in a world that judges relationships against external markers like engagement, marriage, parenting, and co-ownership, Janine questioned whether the intensity of her grief was valid.
In the five years since Nap's death, Janine examined her emotions and reactions through the lens of her artistry. This culminated in her new book, Welcome to the Grief Club, an illustrated mix of reflections and insights on grief and loss and joy and love. Janine Kwoh is also the owner and designer of Kwohtations, a stationery company and design studio.
Topics we cover:
Dating again after a partner dies.
Dealing with anxiety that someone else will die.
Allowing for the intensity of grief.
Building your life out around grief.
Rage at the Target checkout.
Being okay with having joy and love again.
TJ Jackson had just gotten his driver's license as a teenager when his mother, Dee Dee Jackson, was murdered. Almost three decades later, TJ and his brothers Taryll & Taj, started a non-profit in her memory. The Dee Dee Jackson Foundation is dedicated to supporting others in their grief through music workshops, grief education, and their podcast Power of Love.
In this episode we talk about how grief changes over time, what it was like to grieve as part of a very public family, and how becoming a father connected TJ to his grief in a new way.
Anne Moss Rogers never imagined she would dedicate her working life to reducing suicide risk and supporting those grieving a death by suicide. She first came to this work in search of answers after her son Charles died of suicide in 2015. Most recently, her focus has been on helping teachers and school adminstrators respond when a student is struggling with thoughts of suicide. Part of that focus is also on postvention - the steps schools can take to supporting their community when a student or teacher dies of suicide. Anne Moss is co-author of the new book, Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk.
Visit Anne Moss Roger's website to learn more.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help.
Text HOME to 741741
Call 1-800-273-8255 24/7
The Trevor Project hotline for LGBTQIA youth: 1.866.488.7386.
Therapy for Black Girls
In the last of our three-part series on Grief & Money, we explore how fears about financial stability can be part of grief. When she was 13 and her father died of a heart attack, Shannon already had a narrative of insecurity when it came to her family and money. Even though they had access to more resources after her father died, this narrative just grew stronger. This legacy of financial fear continues to shadow Shannon, even as an adult living in a secure two income household.
We discuss grief, money, and the importance of talking openly about finances and security with children and teens when someone in their family dies.
Big thanks to InRoads Credit Union for sponsoring this series on Grief & Money. InRoads is here for you.
Shannon mentions her friend Nicole who is a Death Worker - learn more about her work here & on Instagram @emeraldawakenings
Growing up, Katie C. Reilly, hadn't thought much about grief or mental health. Then, within the span of four years, Katie's mother died of ALS and her father died of cancer. This grief sent her spinning. As a journalist and writer, Katie turned to research as a way to better understand her own experience. In this conversation we delve into being a parentless parent, grieving a miscarriage, and how complex relationships can shape our grief.
When our favorite person dies, our entire world gets up-ended. That person was often the planet in our galaxy that all the other planets and moons orbited. For Dr. Julie Shaw that person was her big sister, Jennifer. Jennifer died of Lupus in February of 2020. In the months that followed, Dr. Shaw realized how important it is for people to have acknowledgment and connection in their grief. So, she started Hello, I'm Grieving, a social media account focused on bringing more visibility and awareness to grief.
In our conversation we talk about:
Paula Becker is a writer, so when her son Hunter was killed in 2017, she searched for help in the pages of books. What she found were books heavy with text. The problem was her grief made it impossible to concentrate on that text. She recently published A Little Book of Self-Care for Those Who Grieve - the book she most wished she had in those first days, weeks, and months after Hunter died.
Paula was a guest back on Episode 148 - Wrongful Death - A Grieving Mother's Story.
Visit Paula's website to learn more about her work.
Jelani Memory is the co-founder of A Kids Company About, which publishes books for kids about important topics like anxiety, empathy, racism, body image, and more. These are conversations kids are ready to have, often long before the adults in their lives feel prepared to have them. That's where A Kids Company About comes in with books that help adults and kids navigate these complex concepts. We are excited to announce that Dougy Center and A Kids Company About collaborated on their latest publication, A Kids Book About Grief. It's authored by Dougy Center's Executive Director, Brennan Wood, who writes directly to kids about what she learned about grief when her mom died just after Brennan's 12th birthday.
Learn more about A Kids Company About and their entire library of books for kids and the adults who care about them.
When Jeff Porter's wife Claire died of an aneurysm, his world imploded. As he spent time with her in the hospital and started to wander that imploded world after she died, he talked to her, carrying on a conversation they had shared for 27 years. He also started writing and analyzing his experience with grief. This writing led to the publication of his newest book, Planet Claire: Suite for Cello and Sad-Eyed Lovers.
Reid Peterson, MA, recently launched Grief Refuge, an app that enable users to access daily grief support, when and where it's most convenient for them. Reid came to this work through his personal experience of grieving the deaths of his step-father and biological father. At a time when many of us both love and hate the digital world, Grief Refuge, makes support more accessible and grief a little less lonely, no matter where you live or where you are in your grief.
Learn more and download the Grief Refuge app.
Follow Reid and Grief Refuge on Facebook and Instagram.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. Text HELLO to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-8255 (24/7).
While will all experience some type of grief before we die, the prevalence of loss and how the world responds to our grief are shaped by racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression. Lamya Broussard, MSS, MLSP, School & Community Services Clinician at Uplift Center for Grieving Children works directly with justice involved and queer & trans youth who are also grieving. Lamya shares what she’s learned about the need for culturally and community specific grief support, what it was like to do this work during the pandemic and how her personal experiences with loss play a role in her work.
Resources Lamya references:
Uplift Center for Grieving Children
Philly HopeLine – 1-833-PHL-HOPE (1-833-745-4673)
Queer & Trans Youth Hours: Tuesdays, 1 – 4 pm & Thursdays, 4 – 8 pm
Grief Out Loud Episode with Dr. Tashel Bordere
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project Hotlines
1-866-488-7386 or text “Start” to 678-678
The Attic Youth Center
The Bryson Institute
This is the first episode in our three-part Grief & Money series. We don't get through life without grief. We also can't get through life without dealing with money. For Robert Pardi, when his wife Desiree died of cancer, he was umoored. He was also left with significant medical bills. He returned to his career in finance just long enough to pay off the debt before radically changing his life. He packed a bag, moved to Italy, and started a new career as a life coach and author. His book, Chasing Life, The Remarkable True Story of Love, Joy, and Achievement Against All Odds was published earlier this year.
Visit Robert's website and read more about Desiree's life & career.
This series is sponsored by InRoads Credit Union. InRoads is here for you.
When Jonna's mom, Anita, died just a few days after Jonna's 26th birthday, she prepared herself to completely fall apart. She imagined not getting out of bed for days, never laughing again, and for life to come to a standstill. When grief didn't look like that, it was confusing and left her worried she was doing something wrong. Jonna talks about her mom, their relationship, what it's like for grief to show up over time, and reckoning with how grief is changing her hopes and goals.
If you or someone you know is struggling with feeling hopeless, please reach out for help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text Hello to 741-741.
This episode references The AfterGrief by Hope Edelman.
Nnenna Freelon's beloved husband Phil died in July of 2019. Six months later her sister, Dr. Debbie Pierce, also died. Then, COVID hit the United States. During this dark winter, Nnenna was exhausted, but she also couldn't rest. She tried everything and nothing worked. Eventually, she realized she needed to listen. To listen to what grief had to say - and in the listening she found her voice. With that voice, Nnenna recently released her latest album, Time Traveler, and started a podcast, Great Grief.
Visit Nnenna's website to learn more.
Oceana Saywer is a death doula who supports people at the end of life. She came to this work through being with her father during his last days. An experience she describes as transformative and revelatory. In our conversation we travel from Oceana's earliest exposure to grief when she was a young child to more recent losses, personal and communal, over the past 18 months of the pandemic.
Learn more about Oceana's work.
Follow her on Instagram & Facebook.