In Memoriam – Tiffany Sedaris

On June 13, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

sedaris_web(1)Tiffany Sedaris left us on May 24th. She was raised in Raleigh, NC but made her home in Somerville for nearly 25 years.

A talented, self taught artist with a child’s eye for color and form, Tiffany worked in a variety of mixed media including broken bits of pottery and dishware which she crafted into fantasyscape mosaics. Her work has been displayed in a local gallery and at Somerville Open Studios.

Tiffany was somewhat of a local legend as an urban archeologist, and an early advocate for pedal powered transport. Before there was a bike path or marked bicycle lanes, she could be seen cruising the city streets on her Bianchi towing a home built cart in which she’d haul her nightly finds. She saw beauty in other’s discards and would use those found objects in her artwork.

She had worked as a professional pastry chef and baker.  But was also an excellent cook who took great pleasure from feeding her friends (sometimes literally by hand), and could almost magically prepare a meal from what appeared to be an empty refrigerator.

As a lifelong music lover whose taste leaned towards jazz standards, soul and hip hop, Tiffany could give a credible rendition of a favorite song by artists such as Dinah Washington, Esther Phillips, Gil Scott-Heron or Biggie Smalls. Her distinctive voice belied her diminutive stature, it was loud and bell clear with a bluesy quality.  In an auditorium setting, she wouldn’t have needed a microphone to hit the last row.

Through the years her pets were a constant source of solace for Tiff. From “Hoos” the rabbit to a succession of cats, each having a two word name.  There was “Little Pants”, “Mr. Wonderful” etc, etc. Try stepping out on your back porch calling “Little Pants, Little Pants” and listen to the sound of your neighbors throwing the deadbolt.

Tiffany was an absolute original. Her life’s rulebook was written for one and subject to revision at anytime. That life could at times be a whirlwind, the safe place was just off to the side where you could feel the breeze and enjoy the show, step into the eye and you could emerge a bit battered and dazed, yet a better person for having been there.

At 49, Tiffany left this world much too soon and gave to it much more than she ever took from it. She gave us all that was gracious and loyal within her.

Rest well Tiffy


70 Responses to “In Memoriam – Tiffany Sedaris”

  1. Billy says:

    While i go shopping in Davis Square i would visit or LBC Pawn SHop in Boston area and i would visit the goodwill and see this young lady there, she was an inspiration to everyone.

  2. amy sedaris says:

    Whoever wrote this piece about my sister Tiffany did a terrific job.
    You really captured her spirit beautifully.
    Thank you.

  3. Marin says:

    Sorry for your loss Amy.

  4. Lucy says:

    Beautiful piece. Tiffany did indeed “leave this world much too soon and gave to it much more than she ever took from it. She gave us all that was gracious and loyal within her.”

    Her absence is felt by so many people.

  5. Anna C says:

    My deepest condolences to you and your family, Amy.

  6. Jan Collins says:

    I can’t wrap my mind around Tiffany being gone. I keep thinking about her hands…..hard working hands, her bike, her boots, her tan. I’m going to miss our marathon conversations. She was really something else…..

  7. Lisa M says:

    There’s a beautiful piece of artwork on the bike path dedicated to her, over by the veggie garden…

  8. Suzanne D says:

    Just rereading one of David’s books which prompted me to look up something and saw this news. I am sorry for the loss of such an important person in a family that has vicariously brought me laughter and tears through the amazing works of other family members and her own. Her art was BEAUTIFUL. Even though it is a bit late, my thoughts are with the Sedaris family.

  9. Doug Holder says:

    There is a million stories in the Paris of New England and this has been a special one–I am sorry I didn’t interview her–sounds like my kind of person…

  10. jeff wright says:

    Just heard the about Tiffanys passing, so sad. Did not know Tiffany in her later years but sounds like she matured into a wonderful person. Hate i missed hanging out. Gone on earth but never forgotten.

  11. Dan Maher says:

    I really miss Tiffany. She often stopped by my shop in need of a special color glass or just t talk about art and life. People often use the term force of nature to describe people. She was more like a hurricane, both beautiful and troubled. And I also loved running into her at Goodwill or Salvation Army. But I do get to think of her seeing a memorial of her every day. I think I will add to it to make her memory little more permanent as if I could forget her, I can’t.3yb

  12. Dan says:

    I too, was listening to one of David’s stories which mentioned Tiffany’s voice. Knowing of other talented Sedaris’ I thought maybe Tiffany had done some “voice work” and was attempting to look it up.

    I feel like a friend of the family. To hear that Tiffany passed away just a short while ago, and so young! I am sad. I am sorry for their loss.

    My thoughts tonight are with Tiffany’s friends and family.

  13. Josh says:

    I had the pleasure of having Tiffany as my sublettor and roommate in 2010, it’s hard to believe. But she was an amazing person who thought outside the box and always had an amazing smile! Full of spirit and laughter, it will truly be missed.

  14. Richard Simon says:

    Shocked and terribly saddened by the news of Tiffany’s passing which I just heard about today. She will be missed and will never be forgotten. My condolences to all who loved her.

  15. Lost Johnny Bridell says:

    I was lucky enough to hear Mr Sedaris read on a beautiful spring day in Milwaukee, it was May 25th I think. I didn’t hear about Tiffany’s passing until much later. Such a shame,

  16. Deborah says:

    I feel like one of the Sedaris family’s special gifts (among so many!) is to make us all feel like we’re a friend of the family.

    I didn’t know Tiffany at all, yet I’m saddened to hear of her passing. Warm hugs to David and Amy, and to all the family.

  17. Lori Moss says:

    I did not know you. I wish I did. You seem like a wonderful person!

  18. Terra Spencer says:

    Of the many obituaries I have read (I work for a funeral home), this is one of the most compelling. Tiffany sounds like someone who tore a strip off the world, revealing something strange and wonderful underneath.

  19. Michael C says:

    That is indeed a beautiful piece about a clearly beautiful person. But it is painful to think her pain was so great that she saw no other way out.
    We are all challenged to look out for each other, celebrate each other’s greatness, but be sensitive to other’s pain and reach out. I cannot be convinced that suicide is ever the answer. I wish I could say that to her now.

  20. Kitty Barber says:

    I knew and loved Tiffany until I couldn’t any more. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be with her in her last couple of years. I’m sorry her brother never saw fit to help her. And most of all, I’m sorry for Tif, because her life was HARD in a way that only women can understand. I miss her every day. Her art is on my walls, and it is the best she could have left for me. Goodbye, old friend.

  21. Fooksie says:

    Beautifully written. I’m listening to PUT A LID ON IT, thinking about this woman whom I have never met, and yet feeling like I caught a glimpse of Tiffany and her rickshaw, looking for discarded treasures.

  22. amy sedaris says:

    Kitty Barber,
    How can I get in touch with you?

  23. Diana Dawson says:

    My sincerest regards to the Sedaris family. May you all find comfort in your own unique humor and art that you have given this world!

  24. Minnie says:


  25. Sally L. says:

    Good night, sweet dreams, Tiffany. I am sorry that your pain became too great for this world. I am sure you are with the angels now.

  26. Candy says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of Tiffany’s passing. This must be a painful time for all her friends and family. This was a beautiful article, describing someone who worked hard and made beautiful art.
    Condolences to all who loved Tiffany.

  27. Andrea says:

    I just heard about Tiffany’s passing from the beautiful and haunting New Yorker piece that David wrote. My deepest sympathy to all who loved her, especially her amazing family, of which I know David and Amy best, having read (and loved) their books and heard them speak. Tiffany sounds quirky, creative, and fiercely original. I’m so sorry for her pain, and hope to learn more about her artwork. Kitty, I’m sad to read such a biting remark about Tiffany’s brother (besides that there are two brothers). It’s never that way when it comes to suicide. Ever. Rest in peace, Tiffany.

  28. Will says:

    In my experience, it is our siblings who were the ones who knew us best when we dreamed of who we would become, and they are the ones who we looked forward to sharing it with when we got there. Then, it doesn’t end up looking like we thought it would and our siblings are right there loving us, unburdened but what we DIDN’T become, or what we DID become.
    Fundamentally, when a sibling dies, we are a little more alone in the world and have to face the fact that we will die too. We’ll have to rectify the things we weren’t able to do with the things we were and admit that life is indeed short and precious.
    I am sorry for the Sedaris family’s loss and that of her friends and the loneliness brought on by Tiffany’s absence.

  29. Kit Cudahy says:

    First, I must agree 100% with Andrea about the unwarranted biting remark aimed toward David. Suicide is a violent act laden with guilt spread far and wide. I sent his essay to my four brothers and sisters and it has been a moving experience for all of us to read together in four different cities.

    We have too much experience in trauma and the resulting mental illness but we’ve been lucky enough to escape the ultimate death blow. And, yes, I mean LUCK. Out of the five of us three have been in the nuthouse at some point. NEVER, EVER accuse a family member of not doing enough to prevent a loved one’s hideous decision to slip into the dark forever.

    This piece is important and beautiful in its authenticity about the mysteries of a large brood. David Sedaris has done a brave thing; he has moved beyond his comfort zone of brilliant comic social commentary to the painful yet profoundly illuminating work that comes with examining our foundations cracks and all.

    Thank you Sedaris family. Tiffany is alive for me.

  30. Lucy says:

    It saddens us that this, too, has turned into a conversation about David. This is Tiffany’s page. Please let’s all remember that.

  31. Amanda says:

    This piece is the one that should memorialize Tiffany. I only knew her briefly, and clearly lost touch, but I’m so sorry to hear of her passing. She had such a generous heart and optimistic way of living each moment. I’m so sorry the world let her down. Tiffany, I hope you know Mr. Wonderful is safe. I will always be grateful for him as the best gift you gave me.

  32. Lisa says:

    I just finished reading David’s story in the New Yorker. I did not know Tiffany except through his stories, and yet I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face. I lost a younger sibling to suicide too and I am so very sorry for the pain the Sedaris family is going through. They could sit down and in 10 minutes list 500 other things Tiffany could have done other than what she chose. There will never ever be an answer as to why she could not see those 500 other things, but only the one that she picked. My heartfelt wishes that in time the grief of Tiffany’s passing is dulled by the memories of the joy she gave.

  33. tribute says:
    Esther Phillips
    Rest in PEACE Tiffany

  34. mindy carpenter says:

    The world can be a brutal place. I wish you hadn’t suffered, and I wish I’d known you. Rest in peace Tiffany.

  35. Liz Gunn says:

    I just read of Tiffany’s passing. Learning of this brought back vividly my early childhood in Raleigh and her as part of the pack of “little sister’s”. It seems a lifetime ago but those Raleigh/North Hills memories are a very happy part of my childhood/early adolescence. My heart goes out to you, Amy, for this tragic loss. May you be graced with peace as time heals your heart.

  36. Anna says:

    I just read the piece in the New Yorker. As a middle sibling off 13 (2x David’s great formula in his story), I was so overcome for the Sedaris family. I can deeply feel David’s comments on how Tif didn’t talk to everyone, though always in touch with one. Heavy, heavy sigh. I am sorry for your loss. Truly. Rest, Tiffany…..

  37. natasha l says:

    I was shocked to learn of what a talented artist Tiffany was. David’s recent New Yorker article sought to portray her as one with out much to offer the world.It is as if he was trying to settle a score. It is a chilling and empty hearted piece. He should pull it and apologize. Instead, it appears that trolls are sent to comment on the beauty of it. Sad. I wish Kitty would expand on her remark. It sounds as if she has insider knowing.

  38. Andrea Scherzer says:

    Incredibly sad to read about Tiffany who I did not know. Suicide tends to elicit strong reactions from people which is understandable. But we should all remember that no one can know what is really going on for another at an emotional level and how much she/he is willing and/or able to tolerate the ups and downs of existence. Here’s hoping that Tiffany has found some peace and is no longer in pain.

    Sedaris siblings (and dad), I hope you can find some solace in each other.

  39. Erin Burley says:

    I became very close friends with Tiffany when I moved to Cambridge from Florida a few years ago. She had been living with my brother’s good friend in Somerville and had to find a new place to live. It was difficult for her to find because she had a pet rabbit named Hoo she was very protective of and incredibly, sweetly attached too. At one point she was going to rent a room from my girlfriend and I. That did not work out but we became
    friends – we both created art from found objects, and she had a lifetime of knowledge concerning the “trash gods” and how to break the heads off of ceramic figures and what adhesives to use (silicon was her go-to). Last summer she would come to Cambridge or I would go to Somerville a few times a week as I was waitressing nights. I never had any interest in working with glass as an artistic medium before I met Tiffany. I used to trade her my artwork for beautiful trinkets she salvaged that I would integrate into my first clumsy mosaics. We used to put on music and zone out with tile nips, super glue and trash picked boards for hours. She was very much the better craftsman. She said that “they liked me,” referring to glass figurines because she said they broke well for me. She hated guitar driven rock but liked old Delta blues and Snoop Dogg, Biggie, and Tupac. She would create “liquid meals” for us because we both had issues with food — gourmet purees she made from fresh fruit and veggies. She didn’t have much at all but once cooked me a vegetarian spaghetti dinner. I remember when she was first teaching me how to use glass: “it’s beautiful and doesn’t give a fuck about you. It will cut you to the bone.” She taught me to be vigilant about sweeping up glass shards especially since i had cats, and to always have a well ventilated workspace because of adhesive fumes. Last winter i moved out of the city, to kingston. There was a beach by my house i frequented by an abandoned factory i dubbed “trash beach” because of the profusion of 19th century glass shards and bottles. I told tiffany of my many trashglass finds there – we were talking daily over the phone at that period – it was May by then and i didn’t realize until i heard the news it had been the last few weeks of her life. She said she wanted to see Trash beach and my girlfriend was willing to bring her along but she never would commit to any day. I told her i had bags of old glass for her and while very interested she would not make
    Plans to meet me if i came into the city. What she did do was spend four hours on the phone with me, walkin me through my first glass wall – how to open the silicon, how to make best use of it, to save paper towels i used to wipe off the glass so as not to accumulate stupid costs a i did more glass work. She asked me where my cat was so it wouldn’t be harmed by the fumes or glass shards. There were many things she said in our last phone conversations i would only comprehend in retrospect after i got the news. That was one of the last times we ever spoke. When i got the news i was on trash beach gathering glass. Her phone had been going straight to vocemail for over a week. My girlfriend’s coworker found the obituary. I had just called tiffany’s phone to tell her about a piece of glass i had found – straight to voicemail. After i hung up the phone with my girlfriend having learned of tiffany’s passing, i arranged driftwood, sea glass and rocks in a ring kn the beach as an anonymous memorial to her. Each time i return people have added debris to it without knowin what it is for – feathers, washed up Christmas ornaments, glass shards. It continues to grow. I still have so much Tiffany gave me for art that she saved from the trash – turn of the century dental records, pieces of glass, her old tile nips, and most importantly the art i’ve made from her patient, brilliant teaching.

  40. Erin Burley says:

    Also: Tiffany’s artwork is out there in Boston I believe. She was separated from all of it against her will at the time of her passing. Anyone who knew Tiffany knew how attached she was to what she made. Constantly struggling to make ends meet, many people offered her large sums of money she would not accept, she was so attached. Tiffany did not go to the art store for materials. She bought grout and silicon from
    Hardware stored and the rest she picked from the trash, dug from
    The earth or hunted up in thrift stores. The glass she used for mosaics cut her. The tile nips hurt her hands. She had a gift for divining the history and implications of found objects and the work she put into finding them made her unable to be separated from her compositions. All of her artwork and lifetime treasure trove of antiques and found objects are in the possession of a couple with whom Tiffany was living with briefly before she move back into her small room behind the Star Market. Her artwork was to be shown by this couple in an art show Tiffany did not want to participate in. She had been planning to show up at the art show with a van and a friend to take it back. One of the last times i spoke with her she told
    Me she had given up on that idea and was practicing Buddhist detachment from possessions. I should have seen that as a huge sign of what was to come – tiffany could not bear to be separated from the beautiful things she made, ever. Her art should be seen by all, it should be in a museum, not in the possession of a couple she did not want to have it. It was beautiful beyond belief and coveted by many; now that she is gone it speaks for her, as she put her life’s energy into creating it. It should
    Be accessible for everyone, not owned by someone who forcibly separated Tiffany from it while she was still alive. Please, if you have any information or knowledge about the whereabouts of her art, let’s try to liberate it and put it in a museum. If you have ever seen a
    Piece by Tiffany her work is unmistakable. I have
    Photographs if you think you may have seen it. She was all color, light, energy, dynamism and beauty. That lives on in her mosaics, glass walls and 3-d compositions. Please help locate Tiffany’s lost art for everyone!

  41. Erin Burley says:

    P.s. Anyone with info on tiffany’s art, who would care to help me locate it, contact me at or 856 685 3974

  42. Lori Moss says:

    Amy Sedaris reads and posts to this amazing tribute to Tiffany. If there is any one person that can retrieve the art and find a suitable home, one that Tiffany would have wanted it would be Amy. I really believe that and by chance I fell into the life of Tiffany and in so many ways she has changed my life and I never knew her. Erin I will help you anyway I can, I will email you. Thank you for depicting the “real” Tiffany, the amazing artist, caring friend, protector of animals and just a great person. You know I know she can see all of the words that have been out there in her behalf and her energy continues here on earth, her wisdom, her soul. Thank you Sommerville for creating this beautiful tribute to this amazing person.
    My best,

  43. Erin Burley says:

    “Of course, it is strange to inhabit the earth no longer,
    up customs one barely had time to learn,
    not to see roses and other promising Things in terms of a human future;
    no longer to be what one was in infinitely anxious hands;
    to leave even one’s own first name behind,
    forgetting it as easily as a child abandons a broken toy.
    Strange to no longer desire one’s desires.
    Strange to see meanings that clung together once, floating away in every direction.
    And being dead is hard work and full of retrieval before one can gradually feel a trace of eternity.
    Though the living are wrong to believe in the too-sharp distinctions which
    they themselves have created.
    Angels (they say) don’t know whether it is the living they are moving among, or the dead.
    The eternal torrent whirls all ages along in it, through both realms forever,
    and their voices are drowned out in its thunderous roar.
    In the end, those who were carried off early no longer need us:
    they are weaned from earth’s sorrows and joys,
    as gently as children outgrow the soft breasts of their mothers.
    But we, who do need such great mysteries,
    we for whom grief is so often the source of our spirit’s growth–:
    could we exist without them?”
    – rainer maria rilke

  44. Erin Burley says:

    I spoke with someone yesterday and some of Tiffany’s art has been found. As for the rest which is still out there, she loved the random, complex travels that objects took as they outlived their previous owners, so I am sure she would do nothing except chuckle at whatever convoluted routes her own art will take. Perhaps pieces will end up in pawn shops, hoarded away in attics and found by newlyweds, put out by the curb and salvaged by a garbageman, washed into the ocean and found by pirates, and sold on some yet-to-be-invented futuristic black market for ancient arts. I will continue to fumble with bits of found glass and ceramics, nipping them into the shapes of human anatomy the way she showed me, with tile nips and intuitive angles. I will avert my eyes like she told me to when i break glass, to protect them. I will cherish every trash-picked scrap she gave me for collage work, every bizarro black and white found photo with their hints of an impossible intimacy groped after by those with trash art sensibilities.

  45. Tracy says:

    @natasha l I saw David read his New Yorker piece last night, and there was nothing cold about it. A friend spoke with David afterwards about the pain of losing siblings, and she said he was lovely to talk to. Besides, everyone grieves differently, and what makes sense to one person can be jarring to another. That doesn’t make it wrong.

    When I heard David read last night, his story reminded me of how loss is complex, especially when relationships have broken down. You end up grieving that person’s death but also grieving what you’d wanted but couldn’t have while they were still here.

    I don’t take David’s description of Tiffany as the definitive word on who she was as a person. He was speaking from his own experience. Others who knew her probably had quite different experiences. That doesn’t make any of those experiences wrong or invalid, just different.

    Wishing the Sedaris family peace and healing —


  46. AndreaToo says:

    @Natasha and Kitty and the other aonymous haters, this is not the place to speculate on how you imagine some other person’s love is inadequate.
    Anyone with experience with the insidious disease of depression knows that it does not respond to love or logic: it is like a virus that destroys its own host.
    I, too, read David’s New Yorker piece and it was a beautiful tribute in its own way, as is this tribute. I am so sorry for the Sedaris family loss.

  47. Matt Hoffman says:

    @ Amy and David and the Sedaris family I am so very sorry for your loss.

    David wrote in his very touching and moving and insightful eulogy about Tiffany in his article for the New Yorker magazine , that ,”Tiffany said Elan was horrible place ” and honestly Tiffany was really being nice.

    I did not know Tiffany – yet it is very sad to me as a survivor of Elan, 74-76. Davids eulogy for Tiffany made me realize just how fragile life is for many of us after our “horrible ” elan experience.

    Again my sincerest condolences to Amy , David, and the Sedaris family.

    Matt Hoffman

  48. Elle says:

    I wonder whether labeling suicide as either a tragedy or a consequence of mental illness is as vile a man-made construct as any religion. Not to detract from the scientific fact that this young woman had loved ones and did love.

  49. Mary Laskowski says:

    I am touched by this heartfelt goodbye, written by someone who obviously knew Tiffany very well. I mourn this rare spirit and feel as though she were a close friend after reading the responses from others who have known her and loved her. She must have lived her life from the gut, her soul, as so few of us do. As Don McLean wrote in “Starry, Starry Night”, ‘For they could not love you, But still your love was true, And when no hope was left inside On that starry, starry night You took your life as lovers often do .But I could have told you Vincent, This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.’
    I believe Tiffany lived her life as only she could – driven by her love for animals and art. She sounds wonderful to me.
    Having lost a sibling myself, not to suicide, but disease, it doesn’t matter how they leave, just that they are gone. And, no matter how difficult it was to live with them while they were here, we all have our moments, love and memories shared, that will stay with us forever. My sincerest sympathy to all who knew and loved her.

  50. Erin Burley says:

    The House of Life LIII: Without Her


    What of her glass without her? The blank gray
    There where the pool is blind of the moon’s face.
    Her dress without her? The tossed empty space
    Of cloud-rack whence the moon has passed away.
    Her paths without her? Day’s appointed sway
    Usurped by desolate night. Her pillowed place
    Without her? Tears, ah me! for love’s good grace,
    And cold forgetfulness of night or day.

    What of the heart without her? Nay, poor heart,
    Of thee what word remains ere speech be still?
    A wayfarer by barren ways and chill,
    Steep ways and weary, without her thou art,
    Where the long cloud, the long wood’s counterpart,
    Sheds doubled darkness up the labouring hill.

  51. Rob says:

    Follow this link to, “Eulogy for Tiffany Sedaris”, a worthwhile read;

  52. Somerbreeze says:

    Didn’t know Tiffany Sedaris; found this short video of her on YouTube:


  53. Paul says:

    Tiffany was an absolute original! When I met her over 25 years ago she made such an impression on my views on art, romance, money, family and life itself. She was always courageous in her self deprecation so much so that many found it arrogant but once you spent any real time with her you could be so inspired by her whimsical musings. She fostered my optimism and enthusiasm which she tempered with cautionary tales from her own life. She was the big sister that I didn’t know wanted until I moved on and missed her counsel terribly. Her quirky demeanor and unabashed opinions have forever shaped my interpretation of a ‘great conversation’. While I have never been able to watch the Wizard of Oz with the same innocence as I did before our marathon viewings I did learn to look for the little things that are around us everywhere. RIP Tiffany I have missed you all this time but I miss you more now that i know our paths will not cross again.

  54. Michele says:

    I saw David tonight and his story about Tiffany took my breath away. Tomorrow marks year 2 that my younger brother has been gone from us. I sat stock still, hearing him say things that reminded me of my brother, ( the “two boxes”, got to me, Damian’s end of life was just that)
    David was loving and yes, funny ( thank you for giving me that gift of a chuckle, instead of a cry) but you could feel his sadness. His tribute was that of a good brother who just wanted to know “why”. Just like I will always want to know about my brother Damian.
    My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Sedaris family

  55. Cale Kenney says:

    Very glad to find this. Tiff was easy to love and to take–for friends, but her family can be forgiven, I felt, when I saw how parallel our families of origin were in number of children, their places respectively in family “pecking” order, and in the different perceptions of any shared event as it was filtered so differently. I understood because in our family, the youngest sister who the rest of our family cannot take in large doses, is alone– although the rest “got along” as adults. It’s easy to accept that arrangement after struggling for so long, but my sister will always feel abandoned. It is sad and I felt Tiffany’s pain.
    Tiffany’s friends were especial lovers of her sense of fun, humor, and artistic expressions. She went through things others can only imagine, like Élan for example. She did not hold back. She was often not appropriate, and, when she told you she was an addict, and you could be disarmed by her candor, she meant beware. So she meant “you cannot trust me around your meds if you leave them out.” And they might be gone, and she would feel bad.

    I loved her. She lived next door to my sister, having a special relationship with my niece ages two to six, and when Joanne moved, I tried to track her when her owner sold the house. That would have been a great loss, for she was so settled. She had a rich, however alternative life.
    I photographed each and every one of her beautiful creations in home both 2005 and 2006. Very special was the “family tree, “. branches hung with real cups. Loved an above friends insight that she found it hard to let go of her creations even to make some badly needed funds. They made her home her gallery. Recently when I discovered she died I looked every where for those beautiful mosaics of glass colors, and to my chagrin I sent the disk to her but didn’t make a back-up. But I’m still looking just in case it might be useful to a gallery. Thanks to all who posted. My condolences to her friends and especially to her family, who “are now five.” RIP Beautiful woman survivor, Tiffany Sedaris.

  56. Erin Burley says:

    Poem for Tiffany by Grace Schauer and I:

    Returning to nature behind Star Market–

    rotting greenly through a bare mattress,

    you left them nothing but blurred words

    for objects (we wished for you instead).

    A yoga mat is not a bed, but we envied

    your sound sleep, your dissolute safety net.

    You knew better than wake that second

    try–you drowned alarm clocks, severed

    the silver string, no harder side to Somerville

    than little yours. Your little ceramic heads.

    Your little ruined hands. You said the glass

    broke well for me, not jealous but grateful.

    Passing the torch that burned you,

    a nicotine death pact granted with your small

    frame, large nose, caustic wit. Your words

    were broken things you couldn’t mend

    as winter’s freeze seeped in, a blade

    to carve you, bones begging to become dust.

    Winter’s the cliff you couldn’t walk from,

    your flight from the fight that wouldn’t stop.

    I see a Vietnam-era Kerosene-drenched

    monk, a headless figurine, a skinny girl

    frowning at nothing. All the wandering

    stories gathered like birds on someone’s

    shoulders. You fell for fragments, discarded

    lives you pieced into more than intimation,

    yours the story that only sideways got told.

    Sidewalks reveal more: trash constellations,

    cigarette butts signifying so many self-

    destructive gestures–not yours; a written self,

    inheritance by osmosis, a trash-picked path

    to enlightenment you wrestled but rarely

    pinned. With tile nips and sedatives,

    you assembled the blankest aftermath

    then erased the breadcrumbs of your history

    behind you. Burn the scraps in a trashcan

    fire, erase the face no one knew, then sought

    for years, or meant to. We’ll find you

    discarded and salvage something better, truer,

    something that speaks more than its shards would suggest.

  57. Louis says:

    I lived in Somerville for many years; for a time she lived on the same street as I did during the 1980s. I even asked her out once. I saw her many times afterwards when she was out and about on her bike.

    I hope something I discarded found it’s way into her art.

  58. SomMom says:

    Erin and Grace, I love the ending of your poem:

    “We’ll find you

    discarded and salvage something better, truer,

    something that speaks more than its shards would suggest.”

    — I didn’t know Tiffany, but it sounds like an accurate and heart-felt way to react to her life and death. And it might help others whose loved ones took their own lives. Thank you for that.

  59. Joanne says:

    Love you tiff. Miss you. Love Joanne.

  60. Joanne says:

    Love you Tiff. Miss you.

  61. Ann says:

    After hearing David read his beach story on This American Life today and reading here, I keep visualizing a box of ripped up family photos. I can’t help but think that for Tiffany breaking pieces of glass into shards and ripping family photographs into pieces were similar acts…items stored as treasures to be used later to reassemble into something new and more beautiful.

  62. Beth Berry says:

    Tiffany outlived many Elan survivors, whom it was said had a
    statistically higher incidence of P.T.S.D. than Viet Nam veterans.
    Beth – another Elan survivor

  63. Heather says:

    I’m sorry, Tiffany, that you were sent to Elan and suffered so there. I’m particularly sorry that those whom you trusted and loved most never understood how much it hurt and changed you.

  64. says:

    Firstly ,thank you so much Erin Burley ! I only first heard of the Sedarises about 4 hours ago and read some of David’s short stories- then the story about Tiffany’s death..The Beach House. That sent me down a rabbit hole trying to find answers to these questions : did David really mean to be so cold and heartless in his story about her ? So thank you who ever it was that saw him read it and said his tone was compassionate.( sometimes irony and facetiuosness can be misinterpreted,especially in print, without the voice.) .
    Then I wondered ,like all of u..why did she do it..yes ,she lived in poverty but what was her story ?
    Then I wondered what she was lijke and found her on you tube …it simply said tiffany Sedaris. Once I saw her in motion I was entranced ..I could admire what everyone else saw in this magical person.
    I don’t know if she turned down help from family in her last months or if they were afraid it would enable her addiction.
    But I do know this: Erin Burley…u really need to vget the memory of he immortalized in a documentary…about her experience in Elan,her personality,her generosity,her art..and how those ungodly people stole her art…knowing it would kill her soul !
    Thank you so much Erin and others for letting us get to know her .Please try to contact Amy to see about help in getting this story told properly.

  65. says:

    To Erin Burley..also thank you for writing Tiffany a,poem and for those two other poems. I am still questioning and am enchanted and haunted by her story. Would you know…these people who offered her large sums of. $ ..did any. Of them realize,the depth of her attachment …and offer her commissioned work..whereby perhaps she would be less likely to hold on to the work knowing beforehand shed have to give it away. Did she have an interest in commissioned work around the time she wanted to do a show ?
    As for her works being kept by those people..does,anyone know if Tiffany complained to the police..did she try to get her work back..what happened ? Do those people still live there. Are you one of the few who knows what happened …how her art was taken from her..or do a lot of people in Somerville know the truth now..if not it needs to be made public.
    I think many of us would gladly. sign a petition or do whatever we can to help you with. getting justice for this woman. She was lucky to have you as a friend.
    Get that documentary made…play her favorite songs in it if you can..when asking permission to use some of them maybe u can tell them about her story and see if anyone can help back the film moneywise. U nevernk know. Think big…it’ll happen. Sorry for any typos..this phone is ghosting and types its own stuff and won’t let me delete some of it.

  66. Michael Radford says:

    How I am very sad for the family and to have heard this news about Tiffany’s passing.I will remember Tiffany as the vibrant,funny,wild person that she was.

  67. KittyBarber says:

    I haven’t been by here for a long time, and a couple of things occur to me: Tiffany’s art was and is some of the most compelling stuff I have ever seen. I knew her from the time I came to the Boston area in about ’97 until recently, although we were not close for the last few years. We had a ‘falling out,’ and with Tiffany, out was OUT. She closed a door with me and that’s just how it was.

    The last years were so hard. Poverty, in the end, was what she died from. Neglect and poverty.

    I loved Tiffany, and still do, never stopped. If anyone is interested, I’m easy to find on Facebook or at

  68. Mary Suchy says:

    I am just now seeing this. I was very shocked and saddened to hear about Tiffany. She stayed with me and my family in Raleigh in 2008. So, I would love to chat with either Erin or Kitty, if you are interested. Many memories of her….still cannot wrap my head around it.

  69. Ben Barlow says:

    I can’t believe it’s taken almost exactly 2 years for me to see this article.
    I heard about Tiffany’s death via friends in Boston and only heard
    “she had passed away peacefully”, but no one knew the circumstances at the time.

    I was re-watching Strangers with Candy for the 500th time yesterday and
    suddenly wondered if anything had been written about Tiffany since then.
    If I had taken more time out of my own life in 2013, I would’ve seen
    multiple articles popping up after her death & numerous people who knew her telling stories.

    When I found out about her passing, I had been living in Los Angeles for
    about a year. I lived in Somerville before that and worked at an amazing
    independent video store that Tiffany loved to go to in Davis Square.
    *I think one of my co-workers actually commented on one of the
    articles or obituaries for Tiffany, as David Sedaris mentions it in his
    New Yorker piece.

    Everyone at the video store loved Tiffany. Such a ball of energy.
    It’s times like these that I really hate my craptastic recollection.
    I’m notorious for forgetting huge chunks of my life &
    I know there are so many great memories of Tiffany’s visits buried
    somewhere in my worn out brain. I know she came in all the time.
    I feel like it was every day at one point. She seemed to make
    it part of her daily rounds of collecting art materials. Goodwill
    was only about 2 doors down, so I know she occasionally snagged
    something cool & interesting from there. It was a little bit of
    a “yuppie Goodwill” though, so the prices tended to be really
    high and sometimes completely arbitrary. She would sometimes hang
    out for hours while we talked about completely random topics…
    (movies, life, betrayal, death, comedy, art, anxiety etc. etc.)
    just entertaining each other. She was so sweet to me, getting me
    coffee from down the street when she knew I was stuck by
    myself at the store for hours and couldn’t leave. She always
    seemed like such a good-hearted person that just happened to
    have the mouth of a sailor & a million thoughts firing at once.
    I let her know early on that I was a huge fan of her sister
    Amy I & that I had always had a little crush on her.
    Tiffany would pretend to be jealous of my crush on Amy
    & then I’d tell her “hmmm, you know you have similar looks”
    *wink wink*. From then on our conversations always started and ended
    with a bit of awkward, over-the-top flirting and soap-opera type
    dialog that WE at least, found hilarious. From my vague memory,
    she never had an unkind word to say about Amy & even slipped into
    a pseudo Jerri Blank voice/face sometimes (with a her own “Tiffany”
    tinge of course). I only got to see her artwork once when she brought
    some into the video store. Beautiful mini walls of layered glass that
    looked like some crazy glacial cross-section. Oh yeah, she had great
    taste in movies too.

    Eventually, that video store closed & I was sent to the Porter Square
    branch. I think I only saw her a few more times before I was eventually
    laid off & decided to move to Los Angeles with my lovely, soon-to-be
    fiancee (who also worked in Davis Square and knew Tiffany). I think
    that was towards the end of 2011.

    I wish I had something poignant to say about the sadness behind all
    the manic humor, stories, and schtick Tiffany would bring with her,
    but that’s for a real writer to tackle.

    I’ll miss you Tiffany.


  70. I, too, cannot believe it has taken me two years to find out this very sad news. I was just surfing the internet and happened upon an article about Amy and found out this tragic news. While I never kept in touch with the Sedaris Family, I kept abreast of Amy’s success and only knew that Tiffany, who was my elementary school and high school classmate, was an excellent bakery chef in Virginia. I often thought of her and her wonderful family. They befriended me and my family at a time in Raleigh when the families of different races did not easily co-mingle. Tiffany gave me my first guinea pig. I remember her father being so funny, as well as she and Amy. I am just heartbroken that this has happened and know personally how debilitating depression can be. She was a wonderful soul. Hopefully she has much peace now. Tiff you are missed now more than ever.

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