Just a day after quietly going live with Modern Loss, Amanda Marcotte over at Slate wrote a feature about our site. She nailed it with this description of our mission: “Americans love to talk about people who overcome the odds to survive serious injury or illness, but we don’t cope with death very well. Enter Modern Loss, a new website dedicated to helping us stop treating death and grief like embarrassments to be hidden away, and instead have an honest conversation about what it means to mourn.”
Marcotte observes that a lot of those “confronting American denialism about death” are women. She notes the groundbreaking work of several of Modern Loss’ heroines: Meghan O’Rourke, who in the aftermath of her mother’s death penned a Slate series — and then a memoir — about grief; Ariel Levy, who recently wrote an unflinching piece in The New Yorker about her miscarriage; and comic Tig Notaro, who famously began her stand-up routine with “Good evening, hello. I have cancer. How are you?”
My totally unscientific opinion: I think it has a lot to do with cultural expectations of grieving men. For years I attended a grief support group, and the overwhelming majority of those who showed up were women. I don’t think that’s because men weren’t hurting as much as their wives or sisters or daughters; I think it’s more that they cast themselves in a supportive role in the aftermath of loss.
So it makes sense that a lot of innovators in this sphere are women. Strong ideas about what works, what doesn’t and what needs to be changed come from having shared your story with others, and having received a range of responses in the process. And when it comes to changing the conversation (for women and men) about loss, grief and what comes next, we at Modern Loss are trying to do our small part.