Loss of a family member at any age can be a tough and isolating experience. Most times, it's the unexpected deaths that hit us the hardest: parents dying far before "old age," siblings passing in their youth or worst of all, losing your own child.
Rebecca Soffer felt "untethered" at 30 after the loss of her mom, and then her dad just four years later. Many people are unsure of how to react to someone going through such a painful time in their lives, so Rebecca, along with Gabrielle Birkner, whose father and step-mother were murdered in a home invasion when she was 24, started a monthly dinner party called WWDP (Women With Dead Parents). The idea wasn't to wallow in grief, but to be with people who understood. No judgement, no apologies.
Out of that group, Soffer and Birkner started a website called ModernLoss.com, a place for those dealing with loss to share their stories, hear from others dealing with similar issues, and get help and resources when navigating that tough transition period after someone has died. It's meant to be a candid look at grief and loss, with the essays on the website ranging from sad and moving to comical and taboo, because everyone deals with grief in a different way.
As Soffer told Texas Standard, “In my personal experience, I wanted something that was not really religious, that was really not so clinical and wasn’t judgmental,” she says. “And I just wanted to read a piece about somebody’s real mess. Our site really aims to share people’s stories.” The website "rules" follow that ideology. In the About Us section, there's a blurb detailing what you won't get here: 1) Judgement, 2) Tips to help you "get over" or "get past" it, 3) Anything associated with the idea of a "valid" loss. If you feel it it's real, and 4) The phrase "everything happens for a reason."
Yes, you can be there for someone without turning them into a Type II diabetic. https://t.co/WVa3RXLpuo— Modern Loss (@ModernLoss) August 9, 2016
Remember: there's always a silver lining. pic.twitter.com/asmKT2CeeK— Modern Loss (@ModernLoss) August 25, 2016
With technology playing a central role in our lives, it only seems fitting to find comfort in strangers online. With many millennials and Gen Xers moving away from traditional sources of comfort, like religious organizations, it's become natural to turn to the Internet for help and guidance.
With Modern Loss, Soffer says she hopes to bring the refreshing openness she and Birkner found in their dinner group to a broader audience and community. "The point is that for us, loss will rear its head a billion different ways the rest of our lives," Soffer told AARP.com. "We wanted to show people that loss is a new way of life, but that it's going to be OK somehow. The message is resilience."