Finding the Words

Working Through Profound Loss with Hope and Purpose

Now available from Penguin Random House

A powerful account of one father’s journey through unimaginable grief, offering readers a new vision for how to more actively and fully mourn profound loss.

When Colin Campbell’s two teenage children were killed by a drunk driver, Campbell was thrown headlong into a grief so deep he felt he might lose his mind. He found much of the common wisdom about coping with loss—including the ideas that grieving is a private and mysterious process and that the pain is so great that “there are no words”—to be unhelpful. Drawing on what he learned from his own journey, Campbell offers an alternative path for processing pain that is active and vocal and truly honors loved ones lost.

Full of practical advice on how to survive in the aftermath of loss, Finding the Words teaches readers how to actively reach out to their community, perform mourning rituals, and find ways to express their grief, so they can live more fully while also holding their loved ones close. Campbell shines a light on a path forward through the darkness of grief.


“An astonishing and near-miraculous achievement. After experiencing the staggering, shocking loss of two beautiful children, Colin Campbell summons up reservoirs of memory, attention and compassion to give other grieving, stricken people a complete taxonomy and analysis of the emotions that will engulf and bewilder them but can also guide them through agony and grief. In this work which borders on prayer, Campbell makes the unlivable livable and the unbearable bearable, at least barely. It’s hard for me to recollect a greater act of human solidarity and emotional decency than the writing of this magnificent and gut-wrenching book.”
—Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-8), author of Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth and the Trials of American Democracy

“Few books have captured, with such painful grace, the reality of catastrophic loss like Colin Campbell’s. My heart broke open reading Finding the Words. In this beautiful and poetic narrative, Ruby and Hart’s dad takes the reader on a winding road of emotions, from grief and loneliness to meaning and threads of hope. I wept many kinds of tears reading this book. And I am better for having read it.”
—Joanne Cacciatore, PhD, author of Bearing the Unbearable

Finding the Words is a masterclass not only on grief, but on survival. The tragic deaths of Colin Campbell’s teenage children, Ruby and Hart, created a sinkhole of sorrow so deep it felt as though it might consume the world. Though this book emerged from that terrible loss, it never feels despairing. Instead, with profound vulnerability, unflinching honesty, and startling humor, Campbell offers a rare glimpse at the depths of unimaginable loss and a pathway forward toward renewed life. This book’s timeless wisdom is a gift to anyone with a broken heart, and to all who care for the broken-hearted with love.”
—Sharon Brous, founder and senior rabbi of IKAR

“This is one of the most honest and refreshing takes on grief I’ve ever read. Finding the Words weaves the author’s deeply personal story of loss with truly useful advice and insights. This profound book will offer comfort, guidance, and hope to anyone seeking something to hold onto in even the darkest of times.”
—Claire Bidwell Smith, author of Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief

“An honest, pragmatic, and comforting field guide for each of us searching for a way to live with loss.”
—Steve Leder, bestselling author of The Beauty of What Remains