• The Grieving Brain

  • The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss
  • By: Mary-Frances O'Connor
  • Narrated by: Callie Beaulieu
  • Length: 8 hrs and 1 min
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (133 ratings)

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The Grieving Brain

By: Mary-Frances O'Connor
Narrated by: Callie Beaulieu
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Publisher's Summary

A renowned grief expert and neuroscientist shares groundbreaking discoveries about what happens in our brain when we grieve, providing a new paradigm for understanding love, loss, and learning.

For as long as humans have existed, we have struggled when a loved one dies. Poets and playwrights have written about the dark cloak of grief, the deep yearning, how devastating heartache feels. But until now, we have had little scientific perspective on this universal experience. 

In The Grieving Brain, neuroscientist and psychologist Mary-Frances O’Connor, PhD, gives us a fascinating new window into one of the hallmark experiences of being human. O’Connor has devoted decades to researching the effects of grief on the brain, and in this book, she makes cutting-edge neuroscience accessible through her contagious enthusiasm, and guides us through how we encode love and grief. With love, our neurons help us form attachments to others; but, with loss, our brain must come to terms with where our loved ones went, or how to imagine a future that encompasses their absence. 

Based on O’Connor’s own trailblazing neuroimaging work, research in the field, and her real-life stories, The Grieving Brain does what the best popular science books do, combining storytelling, accessible science, and practical knowledge that will help us better understand what happens when we grieve and how to navigate loss with more ease and grace. 

©2022 by O’Connor Productions, Inc. (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Grieving Brain

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting thoughts

I was very interested in learning about my grieving brain.. I have lost a brother to suicide, both my parents and both my sons, only children. I also had another loss, of a marriage after 20 years. So a long life of grieving since I was 10. I was sad that Dr. O'Connor, as a grief specialist, hardly touched on child loss. Although they were both in their late 30's, they were my children, my only ones. I can say even after my other losses, the losses of my children was the most devastating. Even after 9 and a half years, I still feel devastated. Complicated grief for sure. I would have been interested in how I go on with this loss. I'm 71. So if you lost a parent or both, or a spouse, I think this book would be of help. Child loss is so different, especially when it was one's only child or only children.

11 people found this helpful

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3rd Edit Review, back down to 1 star.

3rd listen. Not easy. If I wade through long stretches of scientific fact/theory and hypotheticals, make it to a brief real-world but seemingly superficial example of an exercise, I my Grieving brain says “yeah, I can see that.” But it’s a real chore.

I have no doubt that a retreat helped executives recover from grief and get back on track after losing their jobs. In the real world, I have no doubt that the author’s experience learning to appreciate flowers helped them with their own grief, which at this moment my exhausted grieving brain recalls as maybe being the result of losing their husband? Or their cat? Regardless, if the author spent any time talking ABOUT their lost loved one, then I would have been provided with something I could grab on to.

About this book I will say that if your life is crushed from the heart, gut and mind crunching type grief of losing loved one, my grieving opinion is that listening to hours of this scientific chatter (which this book is all about) may not help you in the least. In fact, it may leave you frustrated and aggravated.

So I’m adjusting my rating of this book back down to one star. Essentially it is an Ivy league-level dissertation, citing Ivy League studies, a few briefly described examples (both real and hypothetical) in a narrowly focused form about what (I guess) goes on in our brains when we are suffering grief. I thought maybe that perspective would be interesting to me, and maybe it would be, but not in the way it’s presented in this book.

4 people found this helpful

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Absolutely awesome

This is not a self help book, not an entertaining story . This book is awesome if you know grief personally but you want to understand what’s happening to you: I absolutely loved this book. It gave me understanding and hope.

3 people found this helpful

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Boring!

Nothing helpful. Very acedemic, Nothing surprising at all either. Such an important subject, too bad this was so disapointing.

3 people found this helpful

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Open to Hope Foundation

We have been in the grief and loss business for over 30 years. It’s seldom that We Find such a wealth of information in one place in the area of a grief, loss and recovery. This book is filled with new information and ideas on the grieving brain. We have learned things that we have never thought possible to learn in a new venue. We have lost a child/siblings and a spouse/dad and thank you so much for the new ideas and information in this book and in this area. You’ve done a wonderful job of bringing scientific knowledge to the lay reader and listener. Congratulations on this great accomplishment. Dr. Gloria Horsley and Dr. Heidi Horsley

3 people found this helpful

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  • JB
  • 02-16-22

Compelling and full of interesting perspectives

This is a really enjoyable read for a very broad audience. It's science forward without being inaccessible. The book and ideas are very approachable because of the effortless involvement of humor and personal vignettes. A surprising amount of areas are covered and woven into the narrative, which all seem well integrated and add to a nice comprehensive picture. I was deeply touched at times, and that worked extremely well in combination with being challenged in my understanding. It leaves enough room to ask a lot of important questions. thanks for writing this!

3 people found this helpful

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Simply brilliant

Having experience intense grief in my 20’s - first the loss of a best friend and second the sudden loss of my first husband - through to the grief I am experiencing now at 50 for the sudden loss of my mother - this book is so enlightening. It has helped me understand the process my younger self went through and why the process of grieving my mother - while intensely painful at times, feels different. I cannot rate this book highly enough. Our brains are indeed marvellous ‘machines’.

1 person found this helpful

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very thoughtful

very insightful and well thought-out. the last few paragraphs about her mother brought me right back to my mom's death. 😭 touching and relatable way to end the book. Definitely a good read.

1 person found this helpful

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Narrator sounds like AI

I really wanted to listen to this book. I couldn’t stand to listen to the narrator. It sounded like artificial intelligence was reading.
I bought a physical copy so I could get the information I wanted but that requires I sit and read. Something I find difficult at this point in my process of grief.
Please for the love of God find a better narrator for this book and replace on my account the new version for the one I bought.
Listening to someone read a book on grief should be relaxing and comforting. Instead it just makes me annoyed.
The book itself from what I could stomach listening to and what I have been able to read is fabulous. Understanding the physiological aspect is necessary to grieve with any sense of purpose.
I recommend the book but not on Audible.

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I liked the informative views she took

However I wish she would have delved into
More of the actual studies she did on people bereaved.

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  • Mrs A.J Gaze
  • 02-13-22

Great

brilliantly explored pushing into the latest understandings about grief and the meaning it has for us all

1 person found this helpful

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  • Liz
  • 11-13-22

Great book - from a Grief Therapist

I have consumed pretty much every book available on grief and for the first time in a long time, I learned new information in this wonderfully presented book. I had to listen multiple times in several parts, to fully grasp what was being said.
At first I found the robotic reading very grating, but I soon got used to it and was able to listen beyond that to the material itself. Pity it wasn’t read by the author! Nonetheless, I do highly recommend this book which I am about to listen to again!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-01-22

Great books and lots of new learning

After loosing my grandmother who brought me up and was a mother to me I have ready many books on grief however this book made a lot of practical sense and easy to understand. I would highly recommend for those who want to understand their grief much better. All the best and hope you all find strength

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-19-22

Very enlightening and helpful

Would recommend this book to anyone with a recent loss of a loved one who is struggling with grief.