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

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  509 ratings  ·  70 reviews
If you love, you will grieve—and nothing is more mysteriously central to becoming fully human. 

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
Paperback, 248 pages
Published June 27th 2017 by Wisdom Publications
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Average rating 4.49  · 
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Zoey Zimmerman
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It has taken me quite a long time to put into words how I feel about this book. I've had kind of a dual/parallel experience as I've worked through it. I can relate in many ways to the words that Dr. Jo has written because I have lost two children. My daughter, Jada Soleil, and my son, Jordan Vaughn, were killed by their father, who then committed suicide. The 7-year-anniversary of the worst day of my life is just two weeks away. As I read Bearing the Unbearable, at the end of each chapter, I wou ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, grief
One thing I learned when I lost my mom is that grief is overwhelming, and that no one in common society really talks about what to do with it, or even what it's like. There's this idea I had, that I'm pretty sure I pieced together from books and movies and TV, that after a few months of grieving you should start to feel more normal, and that about a year later you should have "processed" most of your grief and be ready to be you again. Well. I can tell you that after almost two years of grieving ...more
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief is a beautifully written, wise and wonderful book! It is for anyone who has ever grieved, or is trying to help others who are grieving. Lest you think this is a sad, depressing, hard-to-read book, I found it to be affirming, empathetic and even uplifting. A quick read, I was so engrossed I finished it in one sitting!

I highly recommend this book to everyone!

Many thanks to Wisdom Publications for sending me a copy of this boo
Joshua Anderson
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was an emotional read for me. And I don’t think I can quite capture what the book is, because that would depend on each reader, but I will try anyways. There are a collection of stories about people who have lost their loved ones and there journey of grief with Dr. Cacciatore. While you can find ways to help/live/work with your grief, you may not learn that from each chapter, but for those chapters that are more difficult to empathize with, you can at least sympathize with them and gain fur ...more
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A phenomenal book! Healing, and both optimistic and realistic. I highly recommend this one. I borrowed it from the library but will be buying a copy of my own as I want to reference it often, highlight and underline the heck out of it, and treat it like the personal gift that it is.
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book that I will read again and again. I found it to be comforting and helpful in understanding my grief.
Brian White
May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read several books on grief since my son passed away last year and this one is by far the best. Her thinking and approach on addressing grief is so refreshing and real. I wish I had read it earlier. I hope no one “needs” to read this book but if you’ve had something traumatic happen to you I highly recommend it
Terri W
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book will move your soul in the most meaningful, heartbreaking and beautiful ways. Read this. If you have lost someone that you love dearly, read this book. If you love someone who has lost someone that they love dearly, read this book. If you want to be a kinder human and you want to know what compassion looks like in action, read this book. Dr. Jo's ability to capture the gut wrenching depths of horrific despair, while simultaneously calling upon tenderness, love and presence is unprecede ...more
Yvonne Flint
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just the right words at just the right time. The author speaks of grief from personal and professional experience and wisdom, giving me affirmation that my own grief habits are neither unusual nor prolonged. Grief is inescapably part of love and both change you permanently.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think it was somewhat helpful, but I was put off by the authors constant talk of her grief at her loss of a baby 12 years ago with no mention of her love for her other three living children.
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5ish stars, rounded up. RTC.
Kira Clark
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a merciful antidote for all the harmful messages I’ve internalized about grief and the shame I was feeling about my own sense of isolation throughout my grief. Every time I read it I felt a sense of warmth and connection. Wishing you all compassion for yourselves as we carry our grief with us throughout the rest of our lives.
Jody Detwieler
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Compelling book about the ways humans experience traumatic grief and how to best cope with unfathomable loss.
Phenomenal book. I read this in less than 24 hours. Not since reading “Healing Through the Dark Emotions” in 2013 after the devastating and sudden loss of my best friend have I come across a grief book that touched me so deeply and helped comfort me over another heartbreaking and sudden loss of another friend (this one by suicide). I really connected with this book, so much so that I teared up while reading parts of it and downright cried later on in the evening last night after reading for awhi ...more
Alicia Munoz
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have carried this book everywhere with me since I started reading it. As a bereaved mother of twin boys, walking through my grief journey can be challenging to say the least. Dr. Cacciatore's words resonate deeply and provide a map to help me with my emotions of grief. Her stories teach us how to be with our grief and how to share space with other bereaved individuals. I have used Bearing the Unbearable as a reference book in my Masters level course work and as a tool for support group facilit ...more
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It took me a little while to start this book. I've been dealing with a lot of other stressors in my life right now and felt like I didn't have room to look at my grief. However, my grief made it clear to me that I had to make room--or else. Soooo, I started the book and finished it pretty quickly.

Dr. Cacciatore's fourth baby was stillborn, causing a grief which set her on a path to helping others. She has taught, worked as a counselor, and published her research widely.

Having read several grief
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Joanne Cacciatore's Bearing the Unbearable is a strong support for anyone in the throes of grief. For me, this has been the most helpful book, yet, with her gentle, unassuming approach and welcome suggestions. She shares her own difficult path of grief as well as those of some of her clients and friends. She became great friends with Elisabeth Kubler Ross who wrote the classic book, On Death and Dying, which defined typical stages of death and dying that many encounter. How she became friends wi ...more
Terri Demontrond
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book about loss and grief in presence. Rich in wisdom. Absolutely life changing!

In the summer of 2013, about a year after my beloved daughter ended her life, I found Dr. Joanne Cacciatore. I explained to her that I couldn’t find a way to cope. I didn’t know if I could survive with the deep and dark gaping hole her death left behind. Dr. Cacciatore showed me a level of compassion and presence I didn’t know existed. I’m so grateful for the time we spent together as I learned about grie
William B
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help
“Bearing the Unbearable” by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore is an essential book for anyone who is suffering from grief.

I was given this book as a gift from a dear friend of mine who knew this was a guide that will help me during the grieving process.

After losing my mother, I was finding ways to cope because her loss was unexpected. I felt that I was pushed out of a helicopter without a parachute and I was flailing in midair with no directions as to where to land or what to do. After reading Dr. Joanne’
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Chances are, if you’ve searched out this book, it’s because you’re grieving the loss of someone deeply important to you. Joanne Cacciatore is a bereaved mother, and like almost everyone, I can’t imagine a loss more profound than the loss of a child. Having not experienced that myself, I read Joanne’s book partially to learn how I could better love and support the precious people in my life who have lost their children.

And learn, I did.

I learned how to embrace those who are grieving, and to be
Michael Akers
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inspirational and Eye Opening Book

My beautiful, beloved wife passed away two and a half months ago. We have been married for 25 years. She was 62 and I am 65. We were still deeply in love with each other when she passed from a massive heart attack. I have read several books recently trying to understand and help my broken heart, and to understand the excruciating grief I am experiencing. Dr Cacciatore has opened my eyes not only describing the intense components and emotions of grief, but also w
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has helped me understand and accept traumatic grief after my sister's death. I've read several other books aimed at helping people overcome particular losses, in my case suicide loss, but none of them have been as comprehensive and well-written as this one. Joanne Cacciatore is a deeply compassionate person, and that comes through in every sentence. She's straightforward when talking about death but describes grief so accurately and eloquently that you can't help but feel held and unde ...more
Jaylynn Thomas
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief" by Joanne Cacciatore is a self-help book. It has helped me in many ways through the process of grief. This book reminds people of what it is to fully love. Dr. Joanne Cacciatore gives people the consent to let grief be what it is, to let grief be a process and allow it to express itself. In this book, Dr.Cacciatore also tells stories of her patients, who they've lost, and their grief process.

This book has taught me to be m
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We should not have to be given permission to grieve, and yet, in the society in which we live, grief is often hidden, mocked, anesthetized, or rushed along. In this book, Dr. Joanne Cacciatore gives the reader permission to let grief be exactly what it needs to be. By opening her heart and telling her story, she allows the reader to more fully experience his/her own grief and explore it in ways that feels at times daring and bold. Cacciatore takes the inevitable human experience--death and grief ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I really liked the author and her writing. Loved the story about the horse and the chapter about the dog. Appreciated that the chapters were short. But overall I just don’t do well with books that are comprised of “case histories.”

I’d love a book only about Joanne and more of the synchronicities she experiences and wisdom she’s gained. But I grew impatient reading the variety of other-people stories, which often included unflinching mentions of their traumatic losses. And I felt a bit overwhelm
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grief, nonfiction, memoir
None of us is immune to loss. Sooner or later, we will all lose someone we love. What next? How do we go on? Bearing the Unbearable meditates on this topic: for the griever, for the people who love them, and for professionals.

While this book applies to the loss of any loved one, it focuses particularly on the grief over losing a child. Given our culture's taboo on even imagining such devastation, this book is a balm especially to the bereaved parent's heart.

And, despite the sobering topic, this
Robert D. Cornwall
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Losing a loved one is always difficult, especially when that loved one is a child. Joanne Cacciatore is a psychologist, professor, and Zen Buddhist priest. She writes out of her experience of having lost a child in infancy, and from her experience with clients who have lost loved ones. There are 50 brief chapters, most under two pages, which introduce us to aspects of loss. She makes clear taht there is no easy path, and that it is not something "we get over."

Although the author is Buddhist, an
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you, or anyone you know, is going through the grieving process after losing someone to death, I would heartily recommend reading this book. Cacciatore is a renowned grief therapist and educator and this book reflects that. I cannot remember reading a book on any kind of recover that is more pertinent than this one. Grieving is hard, and is made harder by the many ways that society misunderstands and tries to rush people through the process. This book provides a much needed remedy to this prob ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book to everyone, I would. falling into the stories of loss and heartache and resilience found in it's pages, causes my heart to soften and eyes to open, knowing so many grieving people like this also walk around in life near me. Jo gives understanding, brings solace, and so many times I had tears running down my cheeks and warmth added to my soul. Anyone reading this will have their heart expanded, their minds open to growing in empathy and their souls more willing to step ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is easily the best book I have ever read about grief, and I have read quite a few! Read this book if you are grieving, if you love someone who is grieving, or if you are simply human. Dr. Cacciatore has a wonderful style of writing that draws you in by sharing the experiences of others, and validates the wide range of emotions that come with losing someone we love. I worked for many years as a perinatal bereavement counselor, and I am currently a hospice social worker. I have been recommend ...more
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58 likes · 19 comments
“To fully inhabit grief is to hold the contradictions of the great mystery that loss shatters us and we become whole. Grief empties us and we are filled with emotion. Fear paralyzes us and we lend courage to another. We mourn our beloved's absence and we invoke their presence. We cease to exist as we once were and we become more fully human. We know the darkest of all nights and in so doing can bring the light of our loved ones into the world. We are the paradox. We are the bearers of the unbearable.” 3 likes
“When we love deeply, we mourn deeply; extraordinary grief is an expression of extraordinary love. Grief and love mirror each other; one is not possible without the other.” 1 likes
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