Review: Modern Loss by 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.


Everyone grieves differently on their own time. Have you ever found yourself in a conversation after a tragic loss and someone refers to your grief as "getting over it" or "finding closure" as a way of dealing with things? It can be frustrating leaving you feeling alone or in situations where those around you can't relate because they don't understand to comfort you. Modern Loss, shares a group of people who give their insight on what it means to live with loss.

Modern Loss, stems from the online community started by Rebecca and Gabi. Through their own loss at a young age, they found it difficult to relate to others based based on their demographic. When their community started, it opened the door for so many in their demographic that were living with loss that enabled them to have a place to open honestly about their grief. Not just for them but for so many that have a hard time dealing or talking about their grief, this community setting allows them to openly share their living grief without boundaries. The book driven by stories of personal experiences loss that transcend the everyday folks, celebrities, ages, gender, and religion. You will be inspired, laugh, cry and hopefully feel that you are not alone. 

I thought this was one of those books that make you hopefully appreciate life and look forward to each day. You'll look at grief differently and hopefully have more compassion toward people who are having a hard time dealing with loss or find the strength for yourself if you have been struggling with living with loss. I love what these ladies did with their loss to help others and hope that you check out their book.