Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

Talking About Friend Grief at BEA
I recently attended Book Expo America, the largest publishing trade event in the country. It’s exhausting: roaming dozens of aisles filled with hundreds of publishers. They’re there to promote new books, authors, services. It’s crowded and noisy and severely over-caffeinated (despite the presence of only one Starbucks in the whole Jacob Javits Center. And there are lots of free books and other swag to take home. You need comfortable shoes and a rolling suitcase to survive.

I was there mainly to get new and upcoming books to review on But I was also there to talk to some of my production partners (Kobo, Amazon, etc.) and check out any relevant new titles for my research.

When people asked what I write about, some pretty typical reactions were:

“That’s depressing.”

“Oh, grief’s very big.” (That made me laugh)

“Gee, that’s different.”

But the reaction that always gets me excited is when people say nothing. They stare at me for a second, maybe two or three. Then they begin to speak a little hesitantly, “You know…”

That’s when I’ve got them. I’ve struck a nerve. Those are the people who have been strongly affected by the death of a friend. Many of them have suffered a loss very recently and haven’t talked about it.

Sometimes the “you know” is followed by “no one gets it.” Sometimes they begin to tell me about their friend. Many are embarrassed afterwards by their reaction, but I know I’ve made a connection with them.

A man looked at the cover of Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of Burying Our Friends and his eyes filled with tears. One woman, at the ADEC conference in March, read the title of Friend Grief and Anger: When Your Friend Dies and No One Gives A Damn and smiled. “Someone just said these exact words to me the other day.”

They get it. They get it because they’ve been there - sometimes once, sometimes dozens of times. Let’s face it: we’ll all be there some day.

They’re the people I write for: people who have lost someone who meant the world to them, someone whose life and death changed them forever.

So if you’re one of those people, my book and this blog are for you. Because, yes, grief is very big.