The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss

Written by:
Mary-Frances O'connor
Narrated by:
Callie Beaulieu

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
February 2022
8 hours 1 minute
NPR SciFri Book Club Pick

Next Big Idea Club's ''Top 21 Psychology Books of 2022''

Behavioral Scientist Notable Books of 2022

A renowned grief expert and neuroscientist shares groundbreaking discoveries about what happens in our brain when we grieve, providing a new paradigm for understanding love, loss, and learning.

In The Grieving Brain, neuroscientist and psychologist Mary-Frances O’Connor, PhD, gives us a fascinating new window into one of the hallmark experiences of being human. O’Connor has devoted decades to researching the effects of grief on the brain, and in this book, she makes cutting-edge neuroscience accessible through her contagious enthusiasm, and guides us through how we encode love and grief. With love, our neurons help us form attachments to others; but, with loss, our brain must come to terms with where our loved ones went, or how to imagine a future without them. 

The Grieving Brain addresses:

Why it’s so hard to understand that a loved one has died and is gone forever
Why grief causes so many emotions—sadness, anger, blame, guilt, and yearning
Why grieving takes so long
The distinction between grief and prolonged grief
Why we ruminate so much after we lose a loved one
How we go about restoring a meaningful life while grieving

Based on O’Connor’s own trailblazing neuroimaging work, research in the field, and her real-life stories, The Grieving Brain combines storytelling, accessible science, and practical knowledge that will help us better understand what happens when we grieve and how to navigate loss with more ease and grace. 
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I have lost my fiance on 1/24/22 and I have been battling with coping with her death and I ended up joining a grief support group and I had seen someone post on it about this book The grieving brain it hits a lot of topics and it's all true because I myself hear a lot of points and that relate to the way I myself been feeling and doing.. so anyone going through this I advise you too pick up this book our audio book and listen because I know that I'll never forget who I've lost but I have gotten a better understanding of why we feel the way we feel

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Understanding the brain science is helpful for understanding the process of grief. Our 19 year old daughter died in a car accident the night before she was supposed to come home from college and the fact that she has been at school for a year made the understanding she wasn’t just at school harder in my memory.

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I read this book through the eyes of a clinician to better understand and assist my clients as they journey through grief. This book was absolutely phenomenal! It didn’t read like a scientific book but it was filled with so much information, gave clarity and personalized grief. An excellent read.

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