Bearing the Unbearable

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“Simultaneously heartwrenching and uplifting. Cacciatore offers practical guidance on coping with profound and life-changing grief. This book is destined to be a classic . . . simply the best book I have ever read on the process of grief.”—Ira Israel, The Huffington Post

“An especially powerful book. It is not just for those who have suffered a loss. Anyone who’s trying to deal with a loss, or anyone who know someone dealing with a loss, (and in truth, isn’t that everyone?) will benefit from reading this amazing book.”—Foreword Reviews

““At a time when even the most normal of human experiences, such as grief and suffering, are being pathologized and medicated by a bio-psychiatric industry, Bearing the Unbearable is an honest and courageous examination of the most common of human experiences . . . Dr. Cacciatore’s powerful book doesn’t stop with delineating the process of grief. [It] shows grieving human beings how to reclaim the process as normal and sacred, and how to insist on defining the process for themselves, which leads to powerful healing . . . This book will become a staple in my practice, and as well as at Warfighter ADVANCE programs.” —Mary Neal Vieten, PhD, ABPP, Executive Director, WARFIGHTER ADVANCE

“In this poignant, heartrending and heart-lifting book, Joanne Cacciatore teaches how loss is transformed to peace, devastating grief to active and practical love. Beautifully, beautifully written, Bearing the Unbearable is for all those who have grieved, will grieve, or support others through bereavement.” —Gabor Maté, MD, author of When The Body Says No: Exploring The Stress-Disease Connection and In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

Bearing the Unbearable is a compelling critique of our ‘compassion-deficient’ and happiness-addicted culture that creates a pathological relationship to our feelings in general and grief in particular. Dr. Cacciatore elucidates the cost of pathologizing grief and neglecting and invalidating the emotional experience of people who have suffered horrendous loss—the way such approaches make the grief-stricken doubt themselves and feel alienated and isolated, all of which precludes healing. This book is a plea for therapeutic approaches to trauma and grief that unflinchingly respect the full spectrum of feelings that human beings experience thus providing an emotional home for our agony.” —Jeffrey B. Rubin, PhD, and author of Meditative Psychotherapy and Psychotherapy & Buddhism

"There are sentences in this luminous book that took my breath away. With penetrating insight and tender warmth, Dr. Jo meets the broken-hearted where we live: in an utterly transformed and transformational space. This is the secret potion I have been yearning for, offered from a brimming cup.” —Mirabai Starr, translator of Dark Night of the Soul: John of the Cross and author of Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation


Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief

Joanne Cacciatore

A timeless book and a 2017 INDIES Gold Medal Winner 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 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, and as a Guided Journal for Grieving.

You may also wish to explore Cards for Bearing the Unbearable: 52 Prompts for Having Conversations that Matter and Grieving Is Loving, Dr. Cacciatore’s book of poems, quotations, and reflections on loss.



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. 
This book is an amalgamation of two decades of grief and love.
book information
  • Paperback
  • 240 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 inches
  • $19.95
  • ISBN 9781614292968
  • ebook
  • 240 pages
  • $16.99
  • ISBN 9781614293170
about the author
Bearing the Unbearable

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 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.

Other books by Joanne Cacciatore:
Bearing the Unbearable
Cards for Bearing the Unbearable
Grieving Is Loving

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