Bearing the Unbearable - Praise

Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief

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

 

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240 pages, 6 x 9 inches

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ISBN 9781614292968

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ISBN 9781614293170

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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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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“In today’s happiness-focused world, expressing the unbearable grief of losing a loved one may seem taboo, but disavowing your misery is the last thing a person should do. So writes Joanne Cacciatore, an expert on trauma and bereavement and a Zen priest who herself lost a child. If we wait too long to address the pain of grief, she says, it can ‘become toxic and poison our very souls.’ In Bearing the Unbearable, Cacciatore argues that opening up to grief, as painful as it is, allows us to experience a greater sense of belonging, warmth, and love. Using real-life examples from her experience counseling sufferers of traumatic grief—and from her own journey after losing a baby daughter—she leads readers down a path of renewal. This book won’t help us bypass the pain of grief. Instead, it will give us ‘a safe place to feel, to be with our understandably broken heart,’ and then, after confronting grief, to ‘reclaim our fully human wholeness.’”Lion’s Roar

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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, author of Meditative Psychotherapy and Psychotherapy & Buddhism

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“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
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Bearing the Unbearable is a truly remarkable book. Its author, Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, who herself suffered the heartbreak of losing a child more than 20 years ago, has devoted her entire professional life to work with traumatic bereavement, and her book brims over with the rich emotional wisdom she has acquired in the course of this work. Her aim in her work and in her book is not to exile, diminish, or ‘cure’ us of grief. For ‘when we love deeply,’ she contends wisely, ‘we also mourn deeply, for extraordinary grief is an expression of extraordinary love.’ Her aim, on the contrary, is to give us a home for grief, to help us to be with and surrender to it, to dwell in unbearable sorrow, whether it be our own or another person’s. Loving and grieving are inseparable and constitutive aspects of our humanity, and one cannot emerge from a close reading of Bearing the Unbearable without feeling more deeply human. I strongly recommend it both to those who work with the traumatically bereaved and those who suffer from such bereavement themselves.”—Robert D. Stolorow, PhD., Founding Faculty Member at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis and at the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity, author of Trauma and Human Existence 
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“Joanne Cacciatore’s amazing and emotionally demanding new book, Bearing the Unbearable, is an experience more than a book. In recounting many many cases from her extraordinary therapy practice devoted to helping people who are undergoing severe grief mostly after the death of a child, the book offers the reader an experience that, like grief itself, is painful but for which one will be deeply grateful afterward...With the courage and wisdom of the author to support the reader through its many many vivid and memorable examples, Bearing the Unbearable takes us on a journey through some of the purest and most piercing distillations of grief, yielding details and distinctions that increase understanding of processes that are usually invisible...Cacciatore reminds us that some terribly painful things are also terribly normal and human. Her mapping of the terrain of grief reveals the absurdity (and offensiveness, even with the best of intentions) of formulating ‘diagnostic criteria’ for pathological grief that claim to be universally applicable yet fail to take into account even the most basic context and nature of the loss...Cicero, a Roman Stoic...tells the story of Anaxagoras, who, upon being told of the death of his son, said simply and tearlessly, “I knew that I had borne a mortal.” ...the book does persuasively and importantly challenge the idea that the goal of helping people grieving extreme loss is to throw grief off and divest oneself of it or protect oneself as did Anaxagoras, not only because in many cases that is impossible, but because it is the wrong path to healing.”—Jerome Wakefield, PhD, Professor NYU School of Medicine, author of The Loss of Sadness
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Bearing the Unbearable: How difficult this is in a culture that denies and distances itself from the well of sorrow. This book is a wise guide, intimate and tender, fierce and wise, reminding us what it means to fully love. Cacciatore invites the dead to come close by and help us to live again, even in the face of the unbearable. She knows the territory of loss and has returned with essential guidance for a people who no longer remember how to navigate the sacred terrain of grief. This is a holy book, riddled with insight and compassion. It will bless all of us in our times of sorrow.”—Francis Weller, author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief
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“This book represents an approach to grief that moves beyond platitudes and cliche. It offers a way to truly grow through grief that is not a moving beyond but is more of an organic decaying and recycling of the soul. It offers hope for those who feel like their loss has disconnected themselves forever from humanity and the circle of life. There is something for everyone in this garden that will restore and rejuvenate. I would highly recommend this book!”—Doug Bremner, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Emory University and author of The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg and You Can't Just Snap Out of It

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“When we feel pain, our natural instinct is to do something to make the pain go away. But what can we do if the pain is unbearable and will never go away?  Joanne Cacciatore learned about this kind of unbearable pain when she suffered the death of her own child.  In her book Bearing the Unbearable, she tells us in a deeply personal way about this experience of unbearable traumatic grief and what she learned from it about healing, and she also tells us, in a series of very moving personal stories, what she has learned  from her life’s work helping others in their healing. She learned that, while our instinct may be to make the suffering go away, our deepest need is to feel the suffering, to experience it fully, as often and as long as the suffering demands to be felt. Because it is only by deeply and repeatedly feeling our suffering that the process of healing can occur. As Joanne describes it this healing is a profoundly mysterious process in which the suffering doesn’t change but in the process of not changing is paradoxically transformed  into healing. So bearing the unbearable is not impossible. It is the only way to heal. But how exactly does that healing happen?  One aspect that Joanne emphasizes is that in the process of fully experiencing our unbearable suffering we come to accept the unavoidability of the suffering and our own helplessness in it, and in that acceptance we discover a new compassion, first for ourselves and then for all our suffering fellow human beings. Another aspect is that we cannot and should not feel so much suffering alone; that to heal we need to be able to feel and express our suffering to another person who understands and accept it and feel it with us. Ideally, it should be a person  who can continue to understand, accept, and feel it with us  throughout all the weeks, months, and years that we will continue needing to feel it.  Such a person is a true healer. Such a person is Joanne Cacciatore.”—Elio Frattaroli, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the book Healing the Soul in the Age of the Brain