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The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss (Paperback)
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.
For as long as humans have existed, we have struggled when a loved one dies. Poets and playwrights have written about the dark cloak of grief, the deep yearning, how devastating heartache feels. But until now, we have had little scientific perspective on this universal experience.
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 that encompasses their absence.
Based on O’Connor’s own trailblazing neuroimaging work, research in the field, and her real-life stories, The Grieving Brain does what the best popular science books do, combining 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.
About the Author
Mary-Frances O’Connor, PhD is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, where she directs the Grief, Loss and Social Stress (GLASS) Lab, investigating the effects of grief on the brain and the body. O’Connor earned a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Arizona in 2004, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in psychoneuroimmunology at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Following a faculty appointment at UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, she returned to the University of Arizona in 2012. Having grown up in Montana, she now lives in sunny Tucson, Arizona.
“A pioneer of the neuroscience of grief, O'Connor lays out in simple prose how we try to make sense of the impossible conundrum of loss. Anyone who's been through a loss or just wants to know how bereavement works, this is the book for you.” — George Bonanno, author of The End of Trauma
"We will all be touched by loss. To understand grief is to understand a fundamental human experience. This book is a powerful and comprehensive exploration of grief, the best I have read.” — Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, pioneer in the end-of-life care field and author of Standing at the Edge and Being with Dying
“Absorbing and wise, The Grieving Brain offers insights and coping mechanisms for those of us who have peered up from the depths of grief and wondered, why does this hurt so much? How can I make a meaningful life for myself now?” — Maryanne O’Hara, author of Little Matches
"The Grieving Brain answered fascinating questions that I would not have thought to ask. State-of-science studies, fun facts and fascinating insights kept me turning pages and losing track of time." — Ira Byock, MD, active emeritus professor, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, author of Dying Well and The Best Care Possible
“The Grieving Brain is a probing exploration into the science of grief and grieving. We are given an opportunity to view loss in a new way. If you have felt the pain of a loss and wondered if it will ever get better, O'Connor shows how the brain can help heal.” — Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Change