The Archaeology of Loss

Sarah Tarlow

11 April 2024
288 pages


‘A companion for anyone navigating the hardships of loss and uncertainty’ - Octavia Bright, author of This Ragged Grace
'In the end, there is so much love in this book’ - The Times

A unflinching memoir exploring the realities of marriage, care-giving, how we die and how we grieve.

After thirteen years together, Sarah Tarlow’s husband Mark began to suffer from an undiagnosed illness, which rapidly left him incapable of caring for himself. Life – an intense juggling act of a demanding job, young children and looking after a depressed and frustrated parner – became hard.

One day, five years after he first started showing symptoms, Mark waited for Sarah and their children to leave their home before ending his own life. Although Sarah had devoted her professional life as an archaeologist to the study of death and how we grieve, she found that nothing had prepared her for the reality of illness and the devastation of loss.

The Archaeology of Loss is a fiercely vulnerable, deeply intimate and yet unflinchingly direct memoir which describes a universal experience with a singular gaze. Told with humour, intelligence and urgency, its raw honesty offers profound consolation in difficult times.

'Extraordinary, unflinching, wonderful, moving’ - Nina Stibbe, author of Went to London, Took the Dog
‘A poetic excavation of loss, grief and ritual’ - Graham Caveney, author of The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness

Look elsewhere for cheeriness; the pleasures offered here are those of intelligence and complexity in the hard times that will come to many of us.
Digs away at our collective fantasy that in dying or caring for the dying we are at our best. In reality, in either role we are often withdrawn, in pain, resentful, bad-tempered: our worst . . . addictively unsentimental.
Extraordinary, unflinching, wonderful, moving.