Modern Loss’ Grief Reads

Some of our favorite features taking on loss and grief of all kinds

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Tell us if this sounds familiar. You (or someone you care about) have been through a major loss. You’re completely knocked off your axis, so you throw yourself down the Internet rabbit hole, searching for some hefty writing to help you commiserate because nobody seems to get it. But there’s just…nothing good. Every piece that comes up seems too sappy, too saccharine, too sour, too sensationalized or just too poorly punctuated for you to relate to. We’ve been there. That’s why Modern Loss has come up with a comprehensive list of thoughtful, well-done pieces of writing, radio, art and video from around the Web tackling the vast subject of loss. So you’re sure to find a quality piece for whatever mood you’re in, or one to share with the right person.

We’ll be adding to this list on a rolling basis. Have a favorite piece that’s helped you along the way? Send it to with the subject line “Grief Reads.”

Good Grief: Is There a Better Way to be Bereaved?”
By Meghan O’Rourke, The New Yorker

Drawing from research and her own experience, O’Rourke challenges conventional conceptions of what mourning should look like.
Read it here
Topics: Bereavement, Resilience

“A Grief Like No Other”
By Eric Schlosser, The Atlantic Monthly

Schlosser argues that “America’s fascination with murder has not yet extended to its aftermath,” in this profile of national support networks for those who have lost loved ones to violence.
Read it here
Topics: Homicide, Mourning a Child, Murder, Death in the Media

“The Trauma of Being Alive”
By Mark Epstein, The New York Times

An essay outlining the universality of loss, and one we hope will encourage those not yet touched by it to become more empathic toward those who have.
Read it here
Topics: Bereavement, Trauma

“Finding My Mother Again”
By Claire Bidwell Smith,

Fifteen years after her mother’s death, Bidwell Smith writes about traveling the path from uncertainty about becoming a mother to her second pregnancy.
Read it here
Topics: Mourning a Mother, Resilience, Parenting After Loss

“My Brother’s Life, Unraveled”
By Alex Halperin, Salon

An older brother reconstructs his sibling’s final days in an attempt to understand what compelled the would-be doctor to meticulously plan his own demise.
Read it here
Topics: Suicide, Mourning a Sibling

“A Singular Pain: When Death Cuts the Bond of Twins”
By Neela Banerjee, The New York Times

“Almost always, one twin dies before another. From that moment, twins say, the uniqueness of life as a twin carries over into the grief they feel.”
Read it here
Topics: Mourning Twin, Mourning a Sibling

“The Death of a Pet Can Hurt as Much as the Loss of a Relative”
By Joe Yonan, The Washington Post

Yonan had already experienced the loss of both his father and sister, but when his beloved dog dies, he finds that losing a pet can be just as painful as losing a family member.
Read it here
Topics: Mourning a Pet, Disenfranchised Grief

“My Stillborn Child’s Life After Death”
By Elizabeth Heineman,

An empathic funeral home director allows a grieving mother to bring her stillborn son’s body home with her.
Read it here
Topics: Mourning a Child, Neonatal Loss

“Why We Write About Grief”
By Joyce Carol Oates and Meghan O’Rourke, The New York Times

In this exchange, the authors Joyce Carol Oates and Meghan O’Rourke discuss the process of writing about the death of a loved one (Oates’ husband and O’Rourke’s mother), and why so many people are drawn to stories of loss.
Read it here
Topics: Bereavement, Writing Through Loss

“To Nurture Again, With Courage”
By Ann Hood, The New York Times

After losing her father and her first born, fear of another tragedy almost keeps a woman from mothering another daughter — almost.
Read it here
Topics: Mourning a Child, Love After Loss

“Families With a Missing Piece”
By: Jeffrey Zaslow, The Wall Street Journal

More than 10% of Americans lose a parent before age 20. Yet many minimize the long-term effects of childhood grief. Studies show that an early loss can make children more resilient and resourceful, but it can also take a toll felt well into adulthood.
Read it here
Topics: Mourning a Parent, How Children Grieve

“Making Toast”
By Roger Rosenblatt, The New Yorker

In the aftermath of his adult daughter’s death, the writer moves in with his bereaved son-in-law and his daughter’s three young children.
Read it here
Topics: Mourning an Adult Child

“The Aquarium: A Child’s Isolating Illness

By Aleksander Hermon, The New Yorker

Hermon’s infant daughter is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and he is unprepared with how the violent reality of her final moments clash with his visions of a peaceful passing.
Read it here
Topics: Mourning a Child, Cancer

“How I Met My Dead Parents”
By Anya Yurchyshyn, Buzzfeed

Yurchyshyn had a complicated relationship with her parents — and their respective deaths were not without some relief, yet she comes to a new understanding of them as she sorts through the things they left behind.
Read it here
Topics: Mourning a Mother, Mourning a Father

What Wasn’t Passed On
By Mary Beth Caschetta, The New York Times

Caschetta tries to understand why her late father chose to disinherit her with no warning and no apparent motive.
Read it here
Topics: Inheritance, Disinheritance, Mourning a Father

“Invisible Casualties”
Huffington Post series

The Huffington Post’s special multimedia series on suicide prevention efforts within the military and veteran communities focuses on those who have successfully overcome struggles with substance abuse, depression and war trauma.
Read, watch and listen here
Topics: Military Families, Suicide

“Why You Should Vacation While Grieving”
By Kristine Hansen, Psychology Today

Claire Bidwell Smith talks to writer Kristine Hansen about how she used travel as a coping mechanism for dealing with her parents’ deaths.
Read it here
Topics: Bereavement

“Obituary for Duck Silverman”
By Sarah Silverman

Comedian Sarah Silverman is faced with the dreaded task of putting to sleep her 19-year-old rescue dog, Duck.
Read it here
Topics: Mourning a Pet, Sarah Silverman

R.I.P Harris Wittels
By Aziz Ansari, Blog

Comedian Aziz Ansari writes a funny and touching memorial to his late friend Harris Wittels,  standup comedian and a writer on Parks and Recreation.
Read it here
Topics: Mourning a Friend, Screenwriting, Ovedose

Now We Are Five
By David Sedaris, The New Yorker

David Sedaris and his family take a beach trip after his youngest sister’s suicide.
Read it Here
Topics: Suicide, Mourning a Sibling

Suddenly, They’re All Gone
By Carol Mithers, The New York Times

The author describes in piercing detail how “the unfathomable, slightly terrifying intimacy of caregiving [brings] the love” as she looks after her elders, and describes the adjustment from life in the trenches of care to the quiet aftermath of loss.
Read it Here
Topics: Caring for the Elderly, Mourning a Parent

The Geography of Sorrow
By Tim McKee, The Sun

An interview with psychotherapist Francis Weller on the Sacred Work of Grief.
Read it Here
Topics: Rituals, Psychology, Conceptions of Grief



Remember Me
Jack Hitt, Shalom Auschlander, Starlee Kine, David Wilcox; This American Life

Stories about people who are remembered very differently than they’d wished. The ghost of a kindly, distinguished philanthropist supposedly plays pranks on guests at a Ramada hotel in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. A dying mother makes a tape for her developmentally disabled daughter, hoping she’ll watch it someday, knowing she might not.
Listen here
Topics: Ghosts, Sitting Shiva, Grieving with Developmental Disabilities

“Supporting Those Left Behind By Military Suicides”
By NPR News
Listen here
Topics: Military Families, Suicide

“The Living Room”
Diane Weiport, Brendan Baker, Briana Breen, Nick Van Der Kolk; Love+Radio

Diane’s new neighbors across the way never shut their curtains, and that was the beginning of an intimate, but very one-sided relationship.
Listen here
Topics: Voyeurism, Mourning a Stranger, Neighbors

“We’ve Forgotten James Powell”
Nate DiMeo, The Memory Palace

Listen here
Topics: Race, Mob Violence, Death in the Media

“The Town Where Everyone Talks about Death”
Chana Joffe-Walt, Planet Money

An exploration of life in La Crosse, Wisconsin, a town in which over 90% of adults have filled out an advanced directive specifying their wishes for end-of-life care.
Listen here
Topics: End-of-life care, Medical Ethics, Advance Directive

“How To Deal With Loss”
Jonathan Goldstein, Wiretap

Goldstein visits a grief counselling centre that caters specifically to children.
Listen here
Topics: Childhood Grief, Grief Support, Support Groups

“Episode #65: Kids Ask about Death”
Hillary Frank and Sarah Troop, The Longest Shortest Time

Sarah Troop, executive director of The Order of the Good Death, talks to host Hillary Frank and answers listener questions about talking to 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 year olds about death and dying.
Listen here
Topics: Childhood Grief, Miscarriage, Explaining Death

Tig Notaro, live at Largo in Los Angeles

Tig Notaro performs a raw and funny standup set the day after she is diagnosed with breast cancer.
Preview here. Available for purchase via iTunes and at your friendly neighborhood record store
Topics: Mother Loss, Cancer, Illness

“Still Point: A Meditation on Mothering a Dying Child”
Interview With Emily Rapp, Fresh Air, NPR

Rapp, who lost her toddler to a rare genetic disease, discusses her book The Still Point of the Turning World.
Listen here
Topics: Mourning a Child


From PTSD by Leela Corman


By Randall Munroe, XKCD

A visual representation and discussion of cancer recurrence rates.
Read it here
Topics: Cancer, Survival Rates,

Baby Racoon Storyline
Bill Waterson, Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and his pet tiger try to nurse a baby raccoon back to health.
Read it here
Topics: Talking to Kids about Death, Pet Death

PTSD: Coming Back To Life after Losing My First Child
By Leela Corman, Nautilus

A grieving mother illustrates her experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in this beautiful watercolor narrative.
Read it here
Topics: Child Loss, PTSD

A Lost Possibility: Women on Miscarriage
Ryan Alexander-Tanner, The Nib

An illustrated guide to miscarriage, told through interviews with four women.
Read it here
Topics: Miscarriage


Screengrab from “Remembering Lorna Colbert.” Image courtesy of Comedy Central.


“Remembering Lorna Colbert”
Stephen Colbert, “The Colbert Report”

Stephen shares a pitch-perfect tribute to his late mother as he returns to his show the night after her funeral.
Watch it here
Topics: Mourning a Mother, Stephen Colbert

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