Disability, death and divorce are part of a string of losses that leave this award-winning musician fundamentally changed as she learns to navigate her grief and find a way forward.
Christa Couture lost a piece of herself—in more ways than one. She lost a leg to amputation from childhood bone cancer. She lost a son to complications at birth. She lost another son to a heart defect. She lost a husband to divorce. Each of these losses has left her altered.
In her debut memoir, Couture relives these tragedies alongside the joys that fill the spaces in between. With a quiet wisdom, she explores the dichotomies of grief—how a dismantling necessitates growth, how trauma will at once harden and soften a person. Evoking Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Rachel Cusk’s A Life’s Work, How to Lose Everything reflects on the emotional and psychological experiences of motherhood, partnership and change.
Couture’s story is an offering of kinship to anyone touched by loss, be that the loss of a physical ability, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a relationship or the loss of one’s sense of self. With gentleness and generosity, How to Lose Everything bears witness to the shift in perspective that comes with grief, 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.
About the author
"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."
Michelle Parise, author of <i>Alone: A Love Story</i>
"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."
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of <i>Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies</i>
"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."
Kerry Clare, author of <i>Waiting for a Star to Fall</i> and <i>Mitzi Bytes</i>
"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."
Leela Gilday, singer and songwriter
"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."
Smokii Sumac, author of <i>You Are Enough: Love Poems for the End of the World</i>
"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."
Heather Plett, author of <i>The Art of Holding Space</i>
"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."
Carys Cragg, author of <i>Dead Reckoning</i>
"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."
Harriet Alida Lye, author of <i>The Honey Farm</i> and <i>Natural Killer</i>
"How to Lose Everything is a short book but every word confronts grief’s pain, terror, and desperation with love, tenderness, and heartbreak. The vivid imagery coupled with a songwriter’s lyricism act as a fluent and whimsical vessel through turbulent waters…"
Qill and Quire
"If you've ever wondered how to lace together deep grief with hope, here is your manual. Couture manages to consistently inject humor throughout her walkabout as an artist and mother, with hilarious nicknames for central characters, including her own leg; Stump. Her humor is a testament to her skill as a storyteller and points to one of life's greatest missions—to find joy in sorrow. A MUST read for these trying times."
Kinnie Starr, singer and songwriter
"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."
Wayne Grady, author of <i>Up from Freedom</i>
"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."
Jim Bryson, singer and songwriter
"Christa has a way of putting things into words that cut not only to the truth of the matter but also to the spirit. She shares pain and beauty all mixed up together. Here in How to Lose Everything, with oodles of bravery and love, she invites us all the way in, and shares ... everything."
Coco Love Alcorn, singer and songwriter
"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."
Rae Spoon, musician and author of <i>How To (Hide) Be(hind) Your Songs</i>
"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."
Gabrielle Papillon, singer and songwriter
"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."
Bill Richardson, author of <i>I Saw Three Ships: West End Stories</i>