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Bearing the Unbearable book cover
June 2017
Wisdom Publications

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Bearing the Unbearable

Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief
Joanne Cacciatore

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 52 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.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" should 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.

The book is the Gold Award winner in the 2017 Indies Book of the Year Award from Foreword Reviews.


Joanne Cacciatore is an associate professor in ASU's School of Social Work. She received bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology from ASU and her PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 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.

Praise for this book

“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

“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"