The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss by Mary-Frances O’Connor

In 2021, I lost my mother, and the waves of grief that periodically overwhelm me make me feel as if I’m drowning in the loss. Mary-Frances O’Connor’s book, The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss, was recommended on some site or other and I just knew I would have to read the book.

The Grieving Brain is a mixture of detailed scientific processes and discoveries and personal stories, no less detailed, centered around how we experience grief. It appears that on some level, our brains are unable to understand how someone who had become irrecoverably part of our DNA is no longer in the same plane of existence as we are. That inability to fathom this concept remains even after we have begun to build a new life, one that no longer includes our beloved. Our brain needs to be retrained, as it were. 

This is not a comfort book per se. The author makes no bones about not having the right answer on how we can go on with life while grieving. However, understanding that these intense feelings are part of our core structure and that we are not alone in our experience of loss, well that does do something to momentarily ease the pain.

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