Photo of Joanne Cacciatore leaning on a farm gate


For more than two decades, I’ve helped those who have experienced life’s greatest tragedies learn to be with and integrate their losses and stay connected to their beloved ones who have died.
For more than two decades, I’ve wept with countless families from every cultural, ethnic, and religious group around the world.
For more than two decades, I’ve studied the effects of these losses and trained others on how to be compassionate toward that which cannot be cured.
For more than two decades, I’ve learned from the greatest teachers of all: our beloved ones who have died. Dr. Joanne Cacciatore

Bearing the Unbearable:

Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief

A timeless book and a 2017 INDIES Gold Medal Winner for Self-Help

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.


Bearing the Unbearable
An online course

In this course, Dr. Jo expands on her bestselling book Bearing the Unbearable, revealing how grief can open our hearts to connection, compassion, and the very essence of our shared humanity.

If you’re walking the path of grief after losing a loved one, this course is for you. The course offers a warm support system of proven methods for coping with grief that you can return to again and again, no matter what you’re going through. You are not alone on this path.


Bearing the Unbearable
A Guided Journal for Grief

In this journaling book, grief expert Joanne Cacciatore provides support and guidance, as writing prompts, for anyone experiencing traumatic loss and grief. This beautifully designed book offers 52 writing prompts for exploring grief and journaling about those whom we’ve lost. Writing about those we’ve lost can be part of a contemplative practice, alone or with therapists, family, friends, or with a grief support group. However you use this journal and its writing prompts, please take the time to write from the heart, really be with each prompt, dive deeply—and do so with a spirit of love and compassion for all beings, including yourself


Cards for Bearing the Unbearable
52 Prompts for Exploring Grief and Having Conversations that Matter

Here are 52 cards with prompts for exploring grief and starting conversations about those whom we’ve lost. These cards can be used as part of a contemplative practice, as journaling prompts, by or with therapists, or used in community with family, friends, or with a grief support group.


Grieving is Loving
Compassionate Words for Bearing the Unbearable

In the style of a quote-a-day collection, this book distills down the award-winning book Bearing the Unbearable into easy-to-access small chunks. Featuring brand-new material, including new prose and poems from Dr. Jo and other sources.

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

Podcasts & Other Content

Embracing Grief: Meditation, Journaling, and Self-Reflection (#189)

In this episode, host Daniel Aitken and Dr. Jo discuss:

• her bestselling book Bearing the Unbearable and the new companion journal;
• the process and benefits of journaling;
• the benefits of meditation and self-care;
• her work with the Selah Carefarm and the benefits we can learn from animals;
• the impact grief plays in our lives; and
• much more!



Bearing the Unbearable

In this episode we meet Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, Zen priest and leader in the field of traumatic grief. We explore with Joanne her path to Buddhism and her work with the bereaved. She tells us how encounters with animals like her rescue horse, Chemakoh, have helped her open both to her grief and to compassion. Joanne shares with us her own transformative experience of grieving for her young daughter and how this set her on the path to work with other bereaved families. She helps us deconstruct the myth that it is a failure to grieve, and guides us to look at ways that we can relieve unnecessary suffering around the experience of loss and the fear of our own or others’ emotions. In this way, she explains, grief can be a transformative experience that expands the heart rather than contracts it.




Dr. Joanne Cacciatore is a tenured research professor who studies traumatic grief at Arizona State University and spearheads the graduate Certificate of Trauma and Bereavement. She graduated with her doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2007. Since 1996, she has worked with and counseled those affected by traumatic death, using nature-based, mindfulness approaches. She started the first therapeutic carefarm in the United States, Selah Carefarm, based on green-care and has 41 domestic and farm animals there that she rescued from abuse, torture, neglect, and homelessness.

She is the founder of the MISS Foundation, an international nonprofit organization with 75 chapters around the world aiding parents whose children have died or are dying. She also began the Kindness Project in 1997 as a way to help many grieving people honor their beloved children, siblings, grandchildren, and others who have died.

Her research has been published in almost 70 peer reviewed journals such as The Lancet, Death Studies, British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Social Work Education, Journal of Mental Health Counseling, Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, International Journal of Nursing, Birth, Social Work, and Families in Society.  Her bookBearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief, won the Indies Book of the Year Award in self-help for 2017.

Dr. Cacciatore is a medical consultant and trainer who has presented grand rounds and provided individual and agency consulting and training all around the world. She is the recipient of the prestigious Hon Kachina Award, the Sr Teresa Compassionate Care Award, the Empathic Therapist of the Year Award, Arizona Foothills Arizona Women Who Move the Valley Award, and the Parents of Murdered Children Father Ken Czillinger Award.

On a personal note, she is an outspoken ethical vegan (meat/fish free since 1972) who hikes barefoot and is a voracious reader.

Her entire body of work began on July 27 of 1994 when her baby daughter died. Since then, she has committed her life to the service of others suffering traumatic deaths.

She is a mother to five children, now all grown, “four who walk and one who soars.”