March 2024

Grief Is for People

By Sloane Crosley
In Grief Is for People, Sloane Crosley shows a remarkable willingness to face the dark questions that follow a suicide.
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After Sloane Crosley’s apartment is burglarized, she’s unmoored. The thief stole handfuls of jewelry that once belonged to Crosley’s grandmother—a cruel woman whom she didn’t like, Crosley’s mom reminds her. But the jewelry was Crosley’s, and she wants it back. She also wants the sense of safety that fled with the burglar as he exited her bedroom window and descended the fire escape onto Manhattan streets. That isn’t so easy to recover, so instead Crosley channels her uncertainty into detective work.

Crosley wrestles with her feelings about the burglary, writing, “Grief is for people, not things.” And on the one-month anniversary of the incident, her grief finds a new object. Her best friend, Russell, dies by suicide. If the burglary unmoored Crosley, Russell’s death sends her out to sea.

In her memoir Grief Is for People, Crosley attempts to write her way through the five stages of grief, which provide the book’s structure. Russell’s death trumps Crosley’s missing jewelry, but the two incidents are intertwined in both her psyche and her experience. She and Russell—a former boss from when she worked in book publishing—would spend hours at flea markets in search of treasures. The spice cabinet the jewelry was taken from was one of Russell’s finds, and a missing ring was one of the identifying factors Russell noted on Crosley’s resume during her job interview (“Long brown hair. Square ring”).

Crosley’s work is often praised for its humor, whether in her essay collections (I Was Told There’d Be Cake, How Did You Get This Number) or novels (Cult Classic, The Clasp). But Grief Is for People places at the forefront a remarkable willingness to face the dark questions that follow a suicide. Crosley began writing one month after Russell’s 2019 death in an attempt to convince herself that he was really gone (a conclusion she accepts, inconveniently, during the COVID-19 pandemic). Her search for acceptance is an impulse that readers who have mourned a loved one may recognize—an effort to map a new emotional landscape on what looks, to a non-mourner’s eye, like the same old world.

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Grief Is for People

Grief Is for People

By Sloane Crosley
ISBN 9780374609849

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