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Publisher's Summary

In this thoroughly revised and updated classic, a renowned psychologist shows that mourning is far from predictable, and all of us share a surprising ability to be resilient

The conventional view of grieving - encapsulated by the famous five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance - is defined by a mourning process that we can only hope to accept and endure. 

In The Other Side of Sadness, psychologist and emotions expert George Bonanno argues otherwise. Our inborn emotions - anger and denial, but also relief and joy - help us deal effectively with loss. To expect or require only grief-stricken behavior from the bereaved does them harm. In fact, grieving goes beyond mere sadness, and it can actually deepen interpersonal connections and even lead to a new sense of meaning in life.

©2009, 2010, 2019 George A. Bonanno (P)2019 Basic Books

Critic Reviews

"Bonanno, the most productive and influential bereavement researcher in America today, has changed the scientific landscape in the field of grief and bereavement." (Camille Wortman, professor of psychology, Stony Brook University)

"Fascinating and readable...a sensitive and sensible view of loss." (New York Times)

"This is a valuable book for Bonanno's application of the scientific method to a field that badly needs it." (New Scientist)

What listeners say about The Other Side of Sadness

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  • Lbart09
  • 23-12-20

If you are suffering, this is not your book

Most people get over bereavement and traumas without professional help. Most people are resilient or highly resilient are the author’s well-documented points.

I’ve lost my husband in the last few months and have a hefty ACE (the author uses Potential Tramautic Event PTE) score. For the 15-25% who don’t just get over it, this book might make you feel worse. I agree with the author about not medicalizing normal human events, but neither our height-drama society or our for-profit healthcare system support a natural recovery.

If you have someone in your life who just needs to bounce back from death, trauma, etc. this book will help prove your point.

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  • Tzachi dan
  • 15-08-20

The antidote to pop science bogus fragility makers

Bonanno simply uncovers our innate capabilities to cope well and shatters the silly ill founded idea that we are fragile by nature.
Every young anxious person in the world should listen to it.

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  • Bodhigirl
  • 23-07-20

The audible version...

Troubling tone of voice, as if complicated bereavement were a stupid concept. It may be more agreeable to read the text but the vocal is very judgemental.
Some interesting ideas.

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  • Maya
  • 02-07-21

Not for someone struggling with grief

This book has made me feel worse just within two chapters. It focuses on people dealing and getting over grief asap. As if it's a normal and reasonable response. I've just lost someone very close to me, suddenly and unexpectedly. I've been in agony for weeks. I struggle to simply exist. This book puts my unbearable pain into a margin of small % of people, who are clearly too weak and do it wrong. Apparently I'm not as resilient as a human should be. The author is arrogant and clearly hasn't experienced a loss of such a magnitude himself. I wish I've never reached for this. The reader has also got a very judgemental and "I'm so much better than everyone else" tone of voice.
If you are suffering from grief - don't even bother with this. This book is made for people who are interested in the subject, without having actually experienced the pain that comes with it.

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  • Emmet Cooke
  • 10-08-21

Sounds like software

Read as if for the very first time; without any understanding of the context.

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  • Luan Nguyen Thanh
  • 16-11-19

This is not a self-help book

"All emotions, including sadness, are short-term solutions. If we remain in a constant state of sadness or feel sad for too long a time, we run the risk of ruminating and withdrawing from the world around us. If we express too much sadness, we begin to alienate the very people whose help and support we most need.

Fortunately, nature has provided a built-in solution. Rather than staying sad for long periods of time, our experience of emotions comes and goes. It oscillates. Over time the cycle widens, and gradually
we return to a state of equilibrium."

This is not a self-help book. The author did not tell you how to cope with loss but rather helped you understand scientifically the human nature, psychology and cultures behind bereavement and loss. From there, it is you who will decide what you would do and how.