So Funny It Hurts: Memoirs of Grief & Resilience

25sep5:30 pm6:30 pmSo Funny It Hurts: Memoirs of Grief & ResilienceCathrin Bradbury, Ralph Benmergui, Shawn Hitchins, Moderator: Jessica Johnson

Watch on YouTube

Watch Now

Event Details

Humour is one of the oldest coping mechanisms we have. Join a discussion on the use of humour as a way through grief, the ways our culture does and does not prepare us to be emotionally resilient to tragedy, and the question hiding in everyone’s minds: is it okay if I laugh at this?

Moderated by Jessica Johnson, Editor-in-Chief of The Walrus.

Books featured:

The Light Streamed Beneath It
ECW Press

A modern gay memoir exploring love, death, pain, and community that will resonate long after the last page. A lifetime of finding punchlines in his heartache comes to a shuddering stop when comedian and writer Shawn Hitchins loses two great loves, five months apart, to sudden death. In this deeply poignant memoir that combines sober self-portrait with tender elegy, Hitchins explores the messiness of being alive: the longing and desire, scorching-earth anger, raw grief — and the pathway of healing he discovers when he lets his heart remain open. Never without an edge of self-awareness, The Light Streamed Beneath It invites the reader into Hitchins’s world as he reckons with his past and stays painfully in the present. As he builds an embodied future, he confronts the stories that have shaped him, sets aside his ambition, and seeks connection in what he used to deflect with laughter — therapy, community and chosen family, movement, spirituality, and an awareness of death’s ever-presence. A heartrending and hope-filled story of resilience in the wake of death, The Light Streamed Beneath It joyfully affirms that life is essentially good, as Hitchins weaves his tale full of tenacious spirit, humor, kindness, and grit through life’s most unforgiving challenges.

The Bright Side
Viking (Penguin Canada)

Cathrin Bradbury’s life imploded in the space of a few months. Her beloved parents died, her marriage limped to an end after twenty-five years, her heavily mortgaged house turned against her, and a promising new romance ended in crushing disappointment.

But somewhere in that year, a new path, or three or four, began to open up. As Bradbury navigates the setbacks, her troubled brother makes an astounding recovery to health and sobriety. She is reunited with her closest childhood friend after a long absence, with deeply satisfying results. She and her four siblings feel their way to becoming a new kind of family without their parents. And her adult children emerge into sharper focus, each gloriously and uniquely themselves. Slowly, she discovers that the path is steep, the view obscured, but there’s light ahead.

Cathartic, hilarious, and profoundly moving, The Bright Side broadens the way we think and talk to each other about the ordinary experiences we all share. A master of the uncomplaining voice, Bradbury combines grace and humanity to look at the world unflinchingly and see what makes it wonderful and absurd at the same time, and to let us all in on the secret.

I Thought He Was Dead
James Street North Books (Wolsak and Wynn)

When Ralph Benmergui discovered he was literally hours away from a deadly heart attack he realized his life had changed. He was entering the autumn of his life, as he saw it, and he was being dragged into it by his heels. What follows this awakening is a funny, profound and generous look at where he has come from — from his childhood as the youngest son of Moroccan immigrants, to his experiences during the early years of YukYuks, to his long and storied career at CBC, along with much more — to where he is now, with stents in his arteries, having survived two bouts of cancer, hosting a much-loved podcast and a with practice in Hashpa’ah, Jewish Spiritual Direction. Along the way Benmergui looks critically at what it means to grow old in our society and challenges the reader to push against the stereotypes, to find a new purpose, and to claim the title and role of elder in a society that demands we strive to stay “forever young.”


Accessible Captioning Sponsor: ECW Press

In partnership with The Walrus


(Saturday) 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm