The Rural We: Rebecca Soffer
Raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the co-founder of Modern Loss also holds a master’s in journalism from Columbia and is a former producer of “The Colbert Report.” For the past four and a half years, she and her husband and young son have been splitting their time between New York City and Housatonic, MA, near what she calls a “wild animal turnpike” for bears, deer and wild turkeys. Soffer grew to love the rural life by way of annual family camping trips to Lake George and her Texan husband through visiting relatives in northern Connecticut.
Modern Loss came about because, when I lost my mom when I was 30 and my dad at 34, I had a hard time finding resources. The website, launched in November 2013, is a platform of candid conversations around the loss experience. It also includes resources we [Soffer and co-founder Gabrielle Birkner] wish we had, like advice on estate issues and financial therapy, that go hand-in-hand with the storytelling. We wanted to provide an umbrella-type experience so you don’t have to go all over the web to find help. We’re not scared to touch any topic, or to have open conversations about what is still considered a stigma. The tone acknowledges that living with loss lasts forever, but it’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and that it’s going to be okay even if I can’t tell you when or how.
After my parents passed away, I had to get rid of their house and I found myself asking “what is home now?” I had an honest conversation with someone in which they said “you’re never going home again; you have to create your own.”
I’d been living in NYC for 15 years and, while I love it, it’s expensive and high-energy and, in light of these deep losses, I really needed to find a place that would help us balance out that existence. My parents had always talked about Tanglewood, so going there felt like reconnecting with them in a new way. I met my husband eight years ago, and we went there on one of our first dates. We fell in love coming up here to different places, got married at Gedney Farm, and decided to buy a house here. This is the place where I felt like I was healing from loss. I find the Berkshires motivating and inspiring; when I’m here I’m pushing myself creatively to try new things.
I love that so many things here are kid-friendly. We visit Rawson Brook Farm to see the baby goats, go swimming at Lake Garfield (my son’s first time in a lake), shop at the Great Barrington farmers market (I love anything from Bug Hill Farm, and Farm Girl Farm’s garlic and kale) and the Lenox farmers market (Naga Bakehouse from Vermont has an amazing bread I named “kale bombs”). I’m a member of the Norman Rockwell Museum (The Gossip is my favorite), and enjoy going to Naumkeag (you have to pinch yourself that a place like this is only a 15-minute drive from your bedroom) and Lake Mansfield (everybody shows up there). I’m a GriffinGB groupie (Connie has a terrific eye), take classes at LifeWorks Yoga, and my husband and I are BIFF fans.
We have an inflatable kayak that we bring to Stockbridge Bowl and Long Pond, which is just down the street. We also love Chesterwood’s Chesterfest music series, Prairie Whale, Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Wheatleigh for special occasions (they have an outdoor barbecue on Wednesday nights), and the Williamsville Inn (in the wintertime, we go there and pretend we’re in the Alps).
Right now we’re working on Modern Loss live events, and on several recorded and printed projects. We’re interested in doing more film screenings and readings in the future, growing our mission so it can live on different platforms, because there’s only so much an article can comfort you.