Christa Couture has come to know every corner of grief—its shifting blurry edges, its traps, its pulse of love at the centre and the bittersweet truth that sorrow is a powerful and wise emotion.
From the amputation of her leg as a cure for bone cancer at a young age to her first child’s single day of life, the heart transplant and subsequent death of her second child, the divorce born of grief and then the thyroidectomy that threatened her career as a professional musician, How to Lose Everything delves into the heart of loss. Couture bears witness to the shift in perspective that comes with loss, and how it can deepen compassion for others, expand understanding, inspire a letting go of little things and plant a deeper feeling for what matters. At the same time, Couture's writing evokes the joy and lightness that both precede and eventually follow grief, as well as the hope and resilience that grow from connections with others.
Evoking Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Rachel Cusk’s A Life’s Work, Couture explores the emotional and psychological experiences of motherhood, partnership and change. Deftly connecting the dots of sorrow, reprieve and hard-won hope, How to Lose Everything contains the advice Couture is often asked for, as well as the words she wishes she could have heard many years ago. It is also an offering of kinship and understanding for anyone experiencing a loss.
How to Lose Everything is a collection of naked stories of enduring love, profound presence and a deep witnessing of the most precious moments of life. Couture writes through layers of grief and loss to show us what it means to love, to build a continuous life after losing everything and to be alive, anyway. A lovely and tender debut memoir that I’ll carry with me always.
How to Lose Everything is a gift of a book that sparkles and sings, a sad story that's also delightful to read, richly told and bursting with wisdom. There is something to marvel at on every single page.
In How to Lose Everything, Christa Couture’s warmth and humour never leave the room, even as she replays her life’s most devastating scenes. Is she tragic? Tough? Vulnerable? Strong? She’s all these things, unapologetically, and I learned so much from her beautiful refusal to stay silent.
As someone who also had cancer as a teenager, as well as being a new mother myself, reading this book felt like a heartfelt conversation with a friend. Christa Couture has experienced so much loss, but doesn’t define herself by that: she is a woman in constant transformation, and writes about herself and her experiences with profound love and an astonishing acceptance.
How do you lose everything? Christa Couture knows and she’s here to lovingly and ever-so-gently let you in on her hard-won wisdom. She’ll break your heart and put it back together anew: feeling the scars, hearing the echoes, and patiently waiting for the subtle openings of heart-bursting light. Listen closely, because she’ll teach you how to walk again.
I didn’t expect to stay up until two a.m., reading this book in one take, but it felt too important to put down. I wanted to stay with Christa through all of it, holding space for her story and her grief. She has shared unflinchingly and with grace and I will be sharing this book with many clients and friends who’ve been through their own hard journeys.
How to Lose Everything is the most staggering account of loss since the Book of Job. And, like Job, Christa Couture has refused to lose faith. This is a powerful memoir of unimaginable suffering and unconquerable spirit.
In How to Lose Everything, Christa’s wry response to a friend on how to have a happy relationship is, “Avoid tragedy.” None of us will avoid tragedy, but these stories are proof that … there are so many rewards to be gained by moving forward bravely.
Christa’s voice and the things that make her remarkable are so tangible in her narrative: it is bravely open, it is generous when retelling of great sadness, it is candid and kind, with a sharp and quick humour that sneaks up on you in the most delightful way, at the right time.
It is not possible to reach this kind of poetic and beautiful telling of such a heartbreaking personal history without years of profound reflection and living with grief. How does a person survive such staggering losses? … It is a huge relief to set down the burden of needing to be strong and get through everything. This is the timely and compassionate story that we all need to hear.
Christa Couture knows better than most how fragile are our bodies, our aspirations, our human arrangements; how resistant they are to protection, how prone they are to rupture. A prolonged cry of anguish would be a reasonable response from someone who has endured her devastating losses; but How to Lose Everything is a thoughtful, spirited, even-handed, good-humoured, and unflinchingly honest anatomy of grief, forbearance, hope, and healing. Expect the miraculous, because here you will find it. Expect the gorgeous, because Christa Couture writes exactly as she sings: with heart, and beautifully.
Reading Christa’s story ... listening to Christa’s words ... hearing Christa play piano ... they are all important voices in this land bookended by salt water. I can’t say enough good things or write enough kind words to say how wonderful and essential they are.
An astoundingly generous and compelling memoir. I could not put this book down, and I know I will return to these stories over and over again. How to Lose Everything is for anyone who has ever lost someone; for you, perhaps, who have come to know grief; for all of us who have had to learn how to walk again, after falling to the ground.