Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief

Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief

Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief

Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief


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If you love, you will grieve—and nothing is more mysteriously central to becoming fully human.

Dr. Cacciatore is featured in the 2021 documentary series The Me You Can’t See, from Oprah, Prince Harry, and Apple TV.

Bearing the Unbearable is a Foreword INDIES Award-Winner — Gold Medal for Self-Help.
When a loved one dies, the pain of loss can feel unbearable—especially in the case of a traumatizing death that leaves us shouting, “NO!” with every fiber of our body. The process of grieving can feel wild and nonlinear—and often lasts for much longer than other people, the nonbereaved, tell us it should.

Organized into fifty-two short chapters, Bearing the Unbearable is a companion for life’s most difficult times, revealing how grief can open our hearts to connection, compassion, and the very essence of our shared humanity. Dr. Joanne Cacciatore—bereavement educator, researcher, Zen priest, and leading counselor in the field—accompanies us along the heartbreaking path of love, loss, and grief. Through moving stories of her encounters with grief over decades of supporting individuals, families, and communities—as well as her own experience with loss—Cacciatore opens a space to process, integrate, and deeply honor our grief.

Not just for the bereaved, Bearing the Unbearable will be required reading for grief counselors, therapists and social workers, clergy of all varieties, educators, academics, and medical professionals. Organized into fifty-two accessible and stand-alone chapters, this book is also perfect for being read aloud in support groups.

Now available as an online course from the Wisdom Academy.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781614292968
Publisher: Wisdom Publications MA
Publication date: 06/27/2017
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 46,832
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore has a fourfold relationship with bereavement. She is herself a bereaved mother: her newborn daughter died on July 27, 1994, and that single tragic moment catapulted her unwillingly onto the reluctant path of traumatic grief. For more than two decades, she’s devoted herself to direct practice with grief, helping traumatically bereaved people on six continents. She’s also been researching and writing about grief for more than a decade in her role as associate professor at Arizona State University and director of the Graduate Certificate in Trauma and Bereavement program there. And, in addition, she’s the founder of an international nongovernmental organization, the MISS Foundation dedicated to providing multiple forms of support to families experiencing the death of a child at any age and from any cause, and since 1996 has directed the foundation’s family services and clinical education programs.

Cacciatore is an ordained Zen priest, affiliated with Zen Garland and its child bereavement center outside of New York City. She is in the process of building the a “care-farm” and respite center for the traumatically bereaved, just outside Sedona, Arizona. The care-farm will offer a therapeutic community that focuses on reconnecting with self, others, and nature in the aftermath of loss through gardening, meditation, yoga, group work, animals, and other nonmedicalized approaches. All the animals at the care-farm will have been rescued from abuse and neglect.

She is an acclaimed public speaker and provides expert consulting and witness services in the area of traumatic loss. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as The Lancet, Social Work and Healthcare, and Death Studies, among others.

She received her PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in psychology from Arizona State University. Her work has been featured in major media sources such as People and Newsweek magazines, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, CNN, National Public Radio, and the Los Angeles Times. She has been the recipient of many regional and national awards for her empathic work and service to people suffering traumatic grief.

She travels quite often but spends most of her time in Sedona, Arizona, with her family and three rescue dogs. She also has three horses that are part of her Rescue Horses Rescue People equine therapy program.

Dr. Jeffrey Rubin is among the leading authorities on the integration of meditation and psychotherapy. He’s the author of Practicing Meditative Psychotherapy and The Art of Flourishing. He lives in New York.

Table of Contents

List of Grieving Practices Mentioned xiii

Foreword xv

Prologue 1

1 The Role of Others in Our Grief 9

2 Public and Private Grief 13

3 Ritual and Artistic Expressions of Grief 17

4 Early Manifestations of Grief 21

5 Nutrient-Deficient Soil 29

6 Cultural Sensitivity 33

7 Bearing the Unbearable 39

8 Pause, Reflect, and Feel Meaning 43

9 The Terror beneath the Terror 47

10 The Pursuit of Happiness and the Unity of Opposites 51

11 Bypassing Grief, Bypassing Love 55

12 Intensity and Coping 59

13 Contraction and Expansion 61

14 The Collision of Love and Loss 67

15 Boundless and Timeless Love 71

16 Personifying Grief 75

17 Pausing with Grief 79

18 The Practice of Being With 83

19 My Heart Cried Many Tears 85

20 The Barefoot Walkabout 89

21 The Vitality of Self-Care 91

22 Self-Care and Sleep 95

23 Ways to Care for Yourself 99

24 Telling Family and Friends What We Need 103

25 Self-Care as Distraction 107

26 Learning, Adapting, and Trusting Intuition 109

27 Re-Grieving 113

28 Surrendering and Stretching 115

29 When We Fragment 119

30 Duration of Grief 121

31 The Courage to Remember 125

32 Joining Hands 129

33 The Power of Unprocessed Traumatic Grief 133

34 Silenced for Decades 137

35 Guilt and Shame 141

36 Inward and Outward 147

37 Works of Love 151

38 Waves of Grief 155

39 "Remember Me," She Said 159

40 Ritual and Microritual 163

41 Meaning through Compassionate Action 169

42 Kindness Projects 171

43 Through Knowing Suffering 175

44 Fierce Compassion 179

45 The Horse Chemakoh 183

46 The Price of Unrealized Grief and Trauma 189

47 Transgenerational Grief 193

48 Grief Broth 197

49 The Darkness Has Its Gifts 203

50 What I Know 207

Epilogue 211

Acknowledgments 213

Index 215

About the Author 221

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