Nonfiction

Without Her

A Chronicle of Grief and Love
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“Rebecca Spiegel has written an aching testament to the unceasing compact that we must make each day anew when we have awakened to suffering, in the ones we love, in ourselves.”— INARA VERZEMNIEKS
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“What is comfort but a filament between past and present with some sort of future implied? In other words, safety. In other words, care. I know it is possible to find these things without her—I know they are there. But it can be so hard to ask. So much is unknown.”

Rebecca Spiegel is working as a teacher in New Orleans when she learns of her sister’s suicide. Only after the funeral does shock give way to grief—and to many questions. How could Emily do this to herself? How could she have abandoned all those who loved her? And what could have been done differently to prevent this devastating loss?

In the days and weeks that follow, Spiegel embarks on a search for answers. She unpacks family history, documents the last traces of her sister’s life, and questions what more she could have done to prevent her death. Unsparingly honest and resistant to simple solutions, “This clear-eyed reckoning offers a path toward understanding what always exists on the other side of grief: the joyful fact of a deep and abiding love” (Camille T. Dungy).

ISBN
9781571311962
Publish Date
Pages
256
Dimensions
8.5 × 5.5 × 0.75 in
Weight
15 oz
Author

Rebecca Spiegel

Rebecca Spiegel teaches writing in Philadelphia, where she lives with her family. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Without Her is her first book.

Praise and Prizes

  • Without Her is a poignant memoir offered up in the tiny chunks of noticing that often accompany sudden grief. I swallowed Rebecca Spiegel’s book in one long gulp. Spiegel’s memories are so detailed I can’t help but sit beside her in her loss. This clear-eyed reckoning offers me a path toward understanding what always exists on the other side of grief: the joyful fact of a deep and abiding love.”

    Camille T. Dungy
    author of Soil
  • “For as often as we lament the course of grief in public, rarely do works of prose interrogate those representations as our own stories conform to stage rehearsals over experience. Rebecca Spiegel’s beautifully intricate memoir, Without Her, eschews the comforts of sentimentality in order to tell a different story, one which critiques our adherence to convenience and imprecision and instead asks what forms bereavement might take at the sentence level and how this might get us closer to true thinking and feeling, beyond the readily available beliefs about ourselves and our pasts. Spiegel is a master of quiet introspection, and Without Her marks an essential inquiry toward rethinking how we love and remember.”

    Joseph Earl Thomas
    author of God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer
  • Without Her is one of the most sensitive, profound, and honest accounts of grief and suicide loss I’ve ever encountered. In beautiful and bracingly direct prose, Spiegel describes the indescribable experience of losing someone who has shaped your very sense of self. This book is a gift to those seeking to understand what it’s like to sift through the unanswerable questions left in the wake of a loved one’s suicide, or to anyone trying to keep going after losing someone they don’t know how to live without.”

    Chris Stedman
    author of IRL
  • “Rebecca Spiegel has written an aching testament to the unceasing compact that we must make each day anew when we have awakened to suffering, in the ones we love, in ourselves. Once known, it can never be unknown, and no matter how overwhelming our love, it can never take pain from another. With a clear and reverent honesty, Spiegel demonstrates that there is a way to live with this knowledge, and that is to claim suffering from fear, to speak of it, clearly, honestly, frankly. By documenting the ever-emerging marks that grief and loss will never stop inscribing onto the world of the living, by acknowledging that recovery is a never-ending spiral, she offers us an enduring form of love, of mercy.”

    Inara Verzemnieks
    author of Among the Living and the Dead