New book “Let’s Talk About Hard Things” explores how to have difficult conversations during the pandemic and beyond

Journalist Anna Sale examines how to discuss emotionally weighty topics like death, sex and money with friends and family members.

We’re two years into a pandemic that has killed more than 850,000 Americans and disrupted all facets of life. And the places that so many of us enjoy and turn to for solace — schools, churches, bars — have become more restricted and sometimes scary. All of these changes have taken a toll on our mental health, as depression and anxiety numbers remain high. That means people are having difficult conversations between friends and loved ones often without the support they need.

“What I really argue in the book … is to, as a listener, learn to sit with the discomfort of hearing somebody’s difficulty.” —Anna Sale, “Let’s Talk About Hard Things”

Listen: To have hard conversations, people should listen more, journalist Anna Sale says.



Anna Sale is the author of “Let’s Talk About Hard Things” and the host of Death, Sex & Money, an award-winning podcast on WNYC. Sale says that Americans’ ties to local institutions are weaker, which puts more of a burden on individuals for things to navigate difficult experiences for themselves. “Stigma and shame and experiencing things on your own compounds the pain of what is an already hard thing to go through,” she says.

To have hard conversations on a variety of topics, Sale says people should listen more. “What I really argue in the book… is to, as a listener, learn to sit with the discomfort of hearing somebody’s difficulty,” she says.

To hear more conversations navigating hard topics, listen to WDET’s podcast The Science of Grief.

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Detroit Today

    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.