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The Last Word: Reviving the Dying Art of Eulogy
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The Last Word: Reviving the Dying Art of Eulogy

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  51 ratings  ·  10 reviews
A lively examination of why the modern eulogy should rest in peace.

Finding the right words to reckon with a loved one’s death is no easy task, and the pressure to grieve in a timely fashion only makes the difficulty of saying a meaningful goodbye that much harder. We are continually instructed to contain our grief to a limited period, to promptly ‘get over it’ and return t
Paperback, 120 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Coach House Books
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This is not about how to write or give an eulogy. Cooper would much rather write about all the other aspects of grief after the death of a loved one, about pop culture eulogies, about social media eulogies for celebrities. So more pain than advice, although many people who've lost loved ones will appreciate the argument that our culture does not give enough space or time to grieve, or allow for the ugliness of the emotions that follow death.
Marisa Carpico
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very strong. This is more of an academic approach to eulogy and grief, so if you're looking for more of a self-help angle, then I'd suggest something like Sheryl Sandberg's 'Option B'.

I'm not usually one for cultural theory, but Cooper's writing is so clear and well-organized that it's difficult not to be pulled along by her arguments. The pop cultural references are strong, but its the personal angles that make this really convincing. A lot of what Cooper says tracks with my experience. However
Sherry Monger
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
It seems apt that my last book of 2017 should be The Last Word, an examination of our culture's attitudes toward death and grief and our determination to make sense of it all. While death is described as banal and boring since it is the common experience of everyone who has ever lived, Cooper looks at our desire to rush grief in order to get it over with - to return to the pursuit of happiness that our society demands as our right. We are determined to grieve in a way that is palatable to onlook ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although I was expecting this book to be more personal, I was charmed by its very academic approach to griefs and eulogies. It is a history of how the pain of memorializing has been presented in twentieth-century Western society--coupled with brief moments where it is clear that the author has felt a great deal of pain of loss herself. She even acknowledges the irony of turning her own personal grief into "something useful." The mourning of celebrities is a much larger subject than the meaning o ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
I ordered this book before it was published. It sounded like my kind of thing. It arrived at my book store today, and I rushed in to get it. I gave up on page 29. "Expressing grief in a culture that urges happiness becomes almost unimaginable in any sustained or thoughtful way" (p. 16). Really? Death is uncomfortable, especially in Britain and North America. Death is uncomfortable, period, whether in a consumer culture or not. And I find the writing irritating, and occasionally incomprehensible. ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"What sort of cruel joke is it, then, that we know loss in some primal way, but can't seem to talk about it?"

"We push the heft of our grief interminably upward and just when we think there might be some respite, or a pause in our loss, it rolls all the way back down and our mourning becomes as fresh as ever."

"Grief is boring to those who peer at it from a distance."

"To be overcome with grief is to have given a damn about someone else."
Oct 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Erudite look at eulogy and grieving. Focused on how eulogy tends to be regarded in today's society, almost disconnected from grief itself. But she makes her case by too many references to pop culture and not enough of real life grievers. She also drops in gratuitous political references that add nothing to her overall narrative.
Fred Kinsie
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good book on the grief process and an thorough analysis of eulogies.
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
academic, not how-to
Erin Kernohan
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: canadian
Received an advanced copy of this title through NetGalley.

If you have an interest in the eulogy from a more academic or pop culture perspective, you'll find Cooper's treatment of the eulogy very interesting. Her writing is smart and compelling. I would have liked to see the "amateurs" get more airtime here. This subject matter has the potential to be popular among the newly grieved - but I'm not sure this book quite hits the mark.

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