Recent News & Reviews

  • November 4, 2013 – Nancy will speak at the Nebraska Undergraduate Sociological Symposium (NUSS) conference on the campus of Midland University on Thursday, Nov. 7. The keynote event will begin at 7:30 p.m.

  • August 10, 2013 – Closure won the Charles Horton Cooley Award given “annually to an author for a book that represents an important contribution to the perspective of symbolic interaction.”

  • May 19, 2013 – Nancy gave the commencement address at Doane College.

  • February 19, 2013 – Nancy was the featured guest for the blog radio show “Giving Grief a Voice,” hosted by Audrey Pellicano. Here is a link to the broadcast.

  • December 19, 2012 – Nancy was interviewed for an article on about “Comforting Kids After A Tragedy.”

  • October 23, 2012 – Nancy is quoted in U.S. News and World Report for the article “Facebook Post-Breakup: Bad for Your Heart?”

  • October 8, 2012 – Closure received a positive review in Cultural Sociology. Reviewer Tony Walter says, “Berns is no ivory tower sociologist, for she concludes that Americans are being manipulated by promises of closure—hence the subtitle’s concern with what closure costs us. By relativizing both closure talk and other ways of talking about grief, she offers an alternative hope: choose from a range of discourses a way to talk about your grief that works for you yourself.”

  • October 7, 2012 – An online support group, Widowed Village, shared why Nancy’s TEDx talk, Beyond Closure, means so much to them.

  • September 4, 2012 – Closure received a positive review in the Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life & Palliative Care. In the review, Angela Swensen says:

    “Nancy Berns, in her book Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What It Costs Us aims to move the experience of grief beyond the idea of closure, framing the experience of grief in a manner that instills hope while at the same time acknowledging the pain. She succeeds in accomplishing this aim….Berns’ book is a critical, thoughtful discussion, framing grief in attainable measures for clinicians, practitioners, service providers, educators, researchers, as well as anyone and everyone who has, or is experiencing grief.”

  • September, 2012 – Nancy is quoted in “8 Things Not to Say When Your Friend is Grieving” in Prevention magazine.

  • August 17, 2012 – A great summary of Nancy’s TEDx talk is posted on TEDxWomen’s website.

  • August 9, 2012 – Nancy’s TEDxDSM talk, “Beyond Closure: the space between joy and grief,” is now available:

  • July 23, 2012 – Nancy contributed to an article in The Epoch Times on grieving after the shootings in Aurora, CO.: “Allowing Aurora to Grieve”

  • July 16, 2012 – Closure received a positive review on the website “Metapsychology Online Reviews.”

  • July 9, 2012 – Nancy will be speaking about closure at TEDx Des Moines on July 15th. Here is a preview of the event from the DesMoines Register.

  • June 20, 2012 – A review in the journal Mortality read, “Berns is strongest when she examines how closure gets taken up and used in interests in politics, media, the criminal justice system and, most convincingly, industry, in order to make a profit on people’s pain and suffering. Indeed, Berns’ ability to intersect a cultural analysis of closure with a critical justice analysis is powerful and compelling. It is here where she offers a unique analysis and where her meta-view as a sociologist crosses with her personal experience as a mourner to provide insight into how closure gets taken up in various cultural domains with ensuing negative consequences for the mourner.” It continued, “The book will be compelling reading for anyone interested in understanding the various ways in which mourning has changed over the last few decades, and more importantly the ways in which these shifts have affected a culture still struggling to come to grips with grief.”

  • June 5, 2012 – Nancy will be speaking about closure at TEDx Des Moines on July 15th. See TEDxDesMoines for more details.

  • May 31, 2012 – Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What It Costs Us received an Honorable Mention from the Emotions Section of the American Sociological Association.

  • Mar. 30, 2012 – Nancy participated in an “authors-meets-critics” session for Closure at the conference for the Midwest Sociological Society. Reviewers at the session included Joel Best, University of Delaware; Peter Kivisto, Augustana College; Art Jipson, University of Dayton; Kent Sandstrom, North Dakota State University, and Joel Powell, Minnesota State University, Moorhead.

  • Jan. 9, 2012 – Closure received a positive review on “The Road Less Traveled” blog.

  • Dec. 7, 2011 – Nancy wrote a guest column for the Des Moines Register: “Christmas Is For Those Who Are Hurting.”

  • Dec. 1, 2011 – Nancy has launched a new blog at Psychology Today called “Freedom To Grieve.”

  • Nov. 19, 2011 – Nancy wrote a guest column for the Des Moines Register: “Empty Chairs And Dealing With Grief, Joy During The Holidays.”

  • Nov. 18, 2011 – Nancy published the article “Chasing Closure” in Contexts (a quarterly magazine by the American Sociological Association).

  • Oct. 17, 2011 – Nancy was a guest on “Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane” on Philadelphia’s WHYY. You can listen to it here.

  • Oct. 7, 2011 – Closure was featured in Oliver Burkeman’s regular column in The Guardian. You can read it here.

  • Sept. 22, 2011 – Nancy was interviewed about the book on the Iowa Public Radio News program “The Exchange.” You can listen to the interview here.

  • Sept. 4, 2011 – Nancy was interviewed about the book for the 9/4/2011 Boston Globe Sunday magazine “Ideas.” You can read the interview here.

  • August 29, 2011 – Nancy was a guest on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Joy Cardin Show on Monday Aug. 29 from 8-9 a.m. You can listen to the interview here. The segment with Nancy starts at the 00:08:30 mark.

  • August 26, 2011 – The October, 2011 issue of Reason Magazine reviewed Closure:

    The Creation of ‘Closure’
    There was a time when Americans didn’t assume that every tragedy requires “closure.” The Drake University sociologist Nancy Berns explores how that changed in Closure (Temple), a book about a word whose meaning is fluid: At different times, it can suggest either remembering or forgetting, either vengeance or forgiveness. Sometimes it is invoked in ways that have less to do with helping the bereaved than with stigmatizing people whose bereavement is making their acquaintances uncomfortable. Often the word carries a commercial or political agenda. Berns attributes the rise of “closure” to several social forces, from the victims’ rights movement to changes in the funeral industry. She understands that some people have found the concept useful in coming to terms with grief, and she doesn’t dismiss their experiences. But it’s wrong, she argues persuasively, to expect everyone else to follow a formulaic “healing process” aimed at “moving on.” As Berns reminds us, “You do not need to ‘close’ pain in order to live life again.” —Jesse Walker

  • August 11, 2011 – Nancy wrote an entry for the Temple University Press Blog titled, “Contemplating the need for–and meaning of–’closure.’

  • August 5, 2011 – The August 2011 issue of Library Journal gave Closure a starred review:

    Berns, Nancy. Closure: The Rush To End Grief and What It Costs Us.Temple Univ. Aug. 2011. c.224p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781439905760. $75.50; pap. ISBN 9781439905777. $24.95. SOC SCI

    “Our grandparents did not seek closure after the death of a loved one,” observes Berns (sociology, Drake Univ.; Framing the Victim: Domestic Violence, Media and Social Problems) in this compelling book. “Closure” as a signifier for the end of grief has come into wide use, and Berns, who experienced a profound loss when she gave birth to a stillborn son, is here to reinforce what most of us intuitively know: feeling bad about losing a loved one never really ends. By commodifying the concept of closure in order to sell products and services, however, society has put pressure on us to conform to the prevailing “feeling rules,” suggesting that disappointment, loss, and grief can and should come to an arbitrary end. Berns angrily dismisses this notion. Surely the desire to love (and miss) someone who is gone continues, despite “the tangled mess of closure talk,” with the same word used for neatly tying up divorce, death, school violence, the death penalty, and grief for a dead pet. VERDICT Berns wisely counsels us to find other language and perspectives for living with grief, and this lucid debunking of the current use of the word “closure” is a breath of fresh air, recommended for both general readers and specialists.—Ellen D. Gilbert, Princeton, NJ

  • August 5, 2011 – Closure has been officially released by Temple University Press.

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