Jan. 18, 2021

Rebecca Soffer on Genesis 50:15-19 – “The Unexpected and Unifying Qualities of Grief”

Mark is delighted to welcome Rebecca Soffer, Cofounder/CEO of Modern Loss, to the podcast this week. In addition to her work leading the Modern Loss community, Rebecca is also a co-author of Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief. Beginners Welcome, and has another book coming out soon. She is a former producer for the Peabody Award–winning Colbert Report, a Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism alumna, and has spoken nationally on the themes of loss and resilience. The passage she has chosen to discuss today is Genesis 50:15-19. Rebecca begins the conversation by summarizing the passage and noting the beauty that can come out of grief and loss as demonstrated within it. With Mark, she explores the invention of forgiveness, the differing responses to grief, and the many perspectives on the notion of ‘dying well’. Infused throughout is Rebecca’s first hand knowledge of this universal yet intensely personal experience, and how she has emerged from these struggles with a blessing which she has shared with so many others. Rebecca concludes the episode by sharing the lessons she has learned about humankind and a profound statement of the potential for healing that grief can generate in our world. Bringing her personal experiences and trademark humor to bear here today, Rebecca reinforces the power of the Torah as she illuminates the message of this text, clearly demonstrating ‘what it can teach us about both the unexpected and also unifying qualities that grief can provide in our lives’. Episode Highlights:  · Rebecca’s summary of the passage and its significance for her · The beauty that can come out of grief and loss · The invention of forgiveness · The potential impacts of grief · Grief as both a singular and universal experience · The predictability of one’s response to grief · A comparison of grieving for an expected or an unexpected death · Rebecca’s experience with the sudden deaths of her parents · Her perspective on the notion of ‘dying well’ · The importance of having a medical directive and a will that are explicit about your wishes · The motivation found in remembering your mortality · Emerging from a struggle with a blessing · The lessons that Rebecca has learned about humankind Quotes: “When you’re thrown into a pit, something’s going wrong there.” “Grief is messy and it’s complicated.” “Beauty can come out of grief and loss and the complete mess of it. And when we’re in those initial throes of grief, it’s very hard to see that.” “It’s all coming from love and pain and confusion.” “I don’t think you can predict anything.” “I do agree that you can die well.” “Everybody should have a will…you can write it on a napkin.” “Be nice to each other or I will haunt you.” “To surprise people with ‘choose your own adventure’, to me, that’s just not a really kind thing to do.” “You never know what somebody else is going through.” “We are so much more similar than we think.” “Grief is excruciating…but it cracks us open…it can really heal the world.”  

Genesis 50:15-19 - https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.50.15-19?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en  

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