Rebecca Soffer: Life After Loss

June 21 - On The Dot
It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!

FIRST THOUGHT: On Coping: Finding the Light in the Darkest of Times

Before I experienced the pain of losing someone, I never really thought it was that big of a deal. After all, most Disney princesses’ moms have died, and those ladies swish and swirl around, gleefully attending balls and getting dressed by birds and whatnot.

At some point, we will all experience moments that rip us to shreds and periods of time when we wonder how we’re going to make it through. But these moments wake us up, reminding us that our time on earth is brutally short, so we better make the most of it.


One way in which you can create a fulfilling life is by giving. In 2006, Karen Dunigan started the concept 100 Women Who Give a Hoot. Though Dunigan passed away in 2014, her sisters continue the idea as her legacy. There are now more than 100 Women Who Give a Hoot groups across the country.

Here’s how it works: You become a member of a 100-woman local chapter, agree to attend quarterly meetings and bring a blank $100 check.

One hundred women attend the meeting, and three local charities and worthy causes make a five-minute pitch. After 15 minutes, each woman votes for the charity they’d like to receive the $10,000 they’ve collected, an amount that can make a real impact. At the next meeting, that chosen charity returns and shares with the group how the funds were used. Now that’s the power of sisterhood!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Rebecca Soffer, Co-founder and CEO of Modern Loss

After Rebecca Soffer received her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, she worked as an associate field producer for The Colbert Report, traveling with Stephen Colbert on his journey to interview all the members of the U.S. House of Representatives. She also developed and produced programming for Reboot, an organization that produces creative projects that spark the interest of young Jewish people and the larger community.

Soffer’s career has been rooted in creating space for evocative conversations to take place. But when Soffer’s mom died in a car accident and her dad had a fatal heart attack four years later, her world completely changed. Looking for a tribe who understood, she formed a monthly dinner party with Gabrielle Birkner, whose parents had also passed away, and a few other grieving friends.

At one of these gatherings, the idea for Modern Loss was formed. Soffer found few online resources that talked honestly about grief, often discovering many of these sites were just too clinical. (Does “five stages of grief” sound familiar?) She thought: Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were a place where everyone could share their stories, and readers would just “get it”?

Modern Loss is the go-to spot for articles about life after loss. While many people might have a preconceived notion that six months or a year after a loved one’s passing, you’re “over it,” Soffer knows the pain never really goes away.

The articles on her site are divided into personal essays, how-to guides and advice columns. She also includes a list of resources, like how to handle grief in the workplace and what not to say to someone who has had a miscarriage. The website has been such an exemplary success that, after only two years, HarperCollins will soon publish a Modern Loss book by Soffer and co-founder Birkner.

It can be difficult to talk about your grief, even months or years later. Modern Loss has created an acceptable space for people to share their stories—from heartbreaking to hopeful. The truth is that grief sucks. But thanks to Soffer, none of us are alone.


I’ll leave you today with this wise quote by author Walter Anderson. He said:

“Bad things do happen. How I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have: life itself.”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

Photo of Rebecca Soffer by Elaina Mortali

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