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It's OK That You're Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand Paperback – October 1, 2017
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From the Publisher
A book for grieving people and those who love them
Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.
This book provides a path to rethink our relationship with grief. It encourages readers to see their grief as a natural response to death and loss, rather than an aberrant condition needing transformation. By shifting the focus from grief as a problem to be solved to an experience to be tended, we give the reader what we most want for ourselves: understanding, compassion, validation, and a way through the pain.
It’s OK That You’re Not OK shows readers how to live with skill and compassion during their grief, but it isn’t just a book for people in pain: this book is about making things better for everyone. All of us are going to experience deep grief or loss at some point in our lives. All of us are going to know someone living great loss. Loss is a universal experience.
Navigating Early Grief
Explore the cultural and historical reluctance to feel grief. And while it won’t change anything inside your loss, hearing your personal experience set against the wider, broken culture can help shift things somehow, offer needed acknowledgment of how hard this really is.
Tools for Living in Your Grief
Exercises to help you manage the mental, emotional, even physical side effects related to your loss, and find tiny windows of calm where things aren’t all better, but they are somewhat easier to carry.
Rallying Your Support Team
Learn how to help a grieving friend as well as how to offer your friends and loved ones guidance on how they can best support you in your grief.
The Community of After
Dive into the ways we find true support and companionship inside loss, and the ways that pain—and love—get integrated into a life lived alongside loss.
“It’s OK That You’re Not OK is a permission slip to feel what you feel, do what you do, and say what you say, when life finds you in a place of profound loss and the world seems hell-bent on telling you the right way to get back to being the person you'll never again be.” ―Jonathan Fields, author of How to Live a Good Life, founder of Good Life Project
“Megan Devine has captured the grief experience: grief is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be honored. She understands the pain that grieving people carry on top of their actual grief, including the pain of being judged, dismissed, and misunderstood. It’s OK That You’re Not OK is the book I’ve been waiting for for 30 years―the one I can recommend to any newly bereaved parent, widow, widower, or adult grieving a death.” ―Donna Schuurman, senior director of advocacy and training at The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families
“In this beautifully written offering for our broken hearts, Megan Devine antidotes the culture’s messed up messages about bearing the unbearable. We don’t have to apologize for being sad! Grief is not a disease from which we must be cured as soon as possible! Rather, the landscape of loss is one of the holiest spaces we can enter. Megan serves as our fearless, feisty, and profoundly compassionate guide.” ―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
“This book is POWERFUL. Too many grief books focus on ‘getting over it,’ but this book says: ‘Look grief in the eye. Sit with it.’ It’s OK That You’re Not OK comes at grief with no flinching. It’s intelligent and honest. It’s a message that everyone who has ever dealt with loss needs to read.” ―Theresa Reed, author of The Tarot Coloring Book
“Our current cultural norms surrounding death render us incapable of dealing with grief authentically and result in unknowingly causing more hurt and suffering to not only ourselves, but the people we care about most. It’s OK That You’re Not OK is the perfect how-to manual to help heal and support ourselves, each other, and our death-avoidant society.” ―Sarah Chavez, executive director of The Order of the Good Death
“Megan Devine knows grief intimately: she’s a therapist and a widow. In this wonderfully honest and deeply generous book, Devine confronts the reality of grieving and reminds us that ‘love is the thing that lasts.” ―Jessica Handler, author of Invisible Sisters: A Memoir and Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss
“Megan Devine’s hard-won wisdom has the power to normalize and validate the experience of grief. If you’re tired of being asked, ‘Are you better now?’ read this book for a fresh perspective.” ―Chris Guillebeau, New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of Pursuit
“Grief support and understanding that is heartfelt, straightforward, and wise.” ―Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart
“It’s OK That You’re Not OK is a wise and necessary book. Megan Devine offers a loving, holistic, and honest vision of what it means to ‘companion each other inside what hurts.” ―Steve Edwards, author of Breaking into the Backcountry
“In a culture that leaves us all woefully unprepared to navigate grief, Megan Devine’s book is a beacon for a better way of relating. It’s OK That You’re Not OK shows us the path to be companions, rather than saviors, to loved ones who are experiencing deep pain. This book should be required reading for being human.” ―Kate McCombs, relationship educator and creator of Tea & Empathy events
“Megan Devine tells the truth about loss, and in doing so, she normalizes an experience that has been censored and stigmatized. It’s OK That You’re Not OK is enormously comforting and validating. Through her life work―and now this important book―Megan leads us to a place that’s rare in our culture: a place where our loss is valued and honored and heard.” ―Tré Miller Rodríguez, author of Splitting the Difference: A Heart-Shaped Memoir
“One of the hardest things about going through hard times is trying to get and give support. In It’s OK That You’re Not OK Megan Devine guides us through tough times with grace. With loving acceptance and compassion, Megan is the new, warm perspective you need.” ―Vanessa Van Edwards, author of Captivate and behavioral investigator at ScienceofPeople.com
“Megan Devine shows us that rather than treat grief as an illness to recover from, we can approach it with warmth and understanding. This is an invaluable book.” ―Rene Denfeld, bestselling author of The Enchanted and The Child Finder
“This book is the radical take on grief we all need. Megan Devine breaks apart stereotypes and societal expectations that layer additional suffering on top of the intense heartbreak of loss. For those in grief, these words will bring comfort and a deep sense of recognition. With precise language, insightful reflections, and easy-to-implement suggestions, this book is a flashlight for finding a way in the darkest times. For anyone looking to support others in their grief, this is required reading!” ―Jana DeCristofaro, coordinator of Children’s Grief Services, The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families
About the Author
Mark Nepo is a poet and philosopher who has taught in the fields of poetry and spirituality for over 35 years. ANew York Times#1 bestselling author, he has published numerous books--including The Book of Soul, The One Life We're Given, and Drinking from the River of Light--and recorded multiple audio projects.
Mark has been interviewed three times by Oprah Winfrey as part of herSoul Seriesradio show, and was interviewed by Robin Roberts onGood Morning America. As a cancer survivor, Mark devotes his writing and teaching to the journey of inner transformation and the life of relationship. Mark's work is widely accessible and used in spiritual retreats, healing and medical communities, and more. His work has been translated into 20 languages, and he continues to offer readings, lectures, and retreats.
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The beauty of this book is the universal insights it offers for EVERYONE who has experienced deep grief or desires to genuinely support another in their loss. The author outlines a refreshing take on grief for the reader's consideration, one where acknowledgment and a desire to love better are critical components in supporting ourselves and each other following a significant loss (ie. death, accident, illness, etc.) She adeptly explains the model's concepts in lay terms, provides numerous examples for better understanding, and recommends practical exercises that one can use to help identify and manage the impact of grief. The quotes from her writing students are especially relevant and poignant.
I found Megan's work validating and thought-provoking, especially concepts such as her broader definition of "early grief", common platitudes (and why I feel their adverse affect), the critical distinction between pain and suffering (and how to minimize latter), grief as an experiment rather than a problem to be solved, and the vital role of acknowledgment and companionship in creating a way forward. One of my favorite sections is the appendix, an essay on helping a grieving friend, which offers carefully-crafted and readily shareable ground rules for supporting a loved one.
I'd recommend reading this book if you or a loved one are in the midst of deep grief and looking for validation, guidance, and honesty in a post-loss world. This book, and especially the associated resources available at refugeingrief.com, are powerful tools for navigating your grief landscape with love and understanding. It's permission to grieve in your way and in your time ... and this has made all the difference in my own post-loss landscape.
This is the book I wish I had read before my wife died, and person after person heaped misguided platitudes and unsolicited advice, and the world demanded words when I had none.
The best time to read this book is before you need it - chapter 9 details why, going into detail about how grief alters the mind - throws us into a wordless place, obliterates concentration, alters experiences of memory and sense of time, and viscerally commands a new perspective on what matters. It can take years to realize a new normal.
Each chapter is short, each sentence to the point. The table of contents is clearly labeled and well organized so that readers can quickly identify which pages to read to better understand and respond to a specific need or experience. This book has given me a better appreciation of the non-negotiable demands grieving places on body and mind. I let go of the misplaced effort to rush myself or others through "healing" or toward a "completion" that can never be, and now know how to be present with unbearable pain and unfixable horror.
Top international reviews
I am a psychologist and I am personally affected by grief. I have a degree that is completely useless to me when facing the reality of loss. But that’s the way we are taught. In desperation to understand myself and to learn how to contain the magnitude of my feelings I read most of the very little that is available on this topic. Useless theories, stages and disorders. I’ve also been fed with much of the current mindfulness and positivity nightmare. Our culture does not only not understand, it is also silent. Grief is uncomfortable so let’s just get it over with quickly. Ignorance hurts. Platitudes hurt. Forced positivity hurts. Unlike any other book, It’s OK That You’re not OK normalizes what is in our society wrongly pathologized in people who are in their most vulnerable state. The author is generous with her own experience, doesn’t avoid what is difficult and describes grief with its raw ugliness instead of trying to paint artificial rainbows all over it. You won’t find empty words of advice, no easy steps to grant your way “back to normal”. But it may become your guide to simply learning to be with what is yours to be with.
This should be a mandatory read for everyone who hasn’t been touched by a great loss yet. And it is a very gentle and validating read for those who have. If you are struggling, reading this book may be just the act of kindness you can show yourself.
My father died 9 months ago.
I’ve been coping but knew that something was missing - I wasn’t allowing myself to be honest about how unbearable and unrelenting grief is because it isn’t what people expect. I can now move forward - not on because that will never happen. He was my hero and I will miss him everyday. But the love and memories provide comfort.
Thank you Megan for trying to help our tormented souls.
IT IS A GREAT BOOK TO DIP INTO AND WILL HELP WITH THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE WHO YOU WILL NEVER "GET OVER"
IT IS MY GO TO BOOK WHEN I FEEL DOWN AND I HAVE GIVEN COPIES TO LOVED ONES TOO.
HOWL CRY RANT SLEEP THIS BOOK GIVES YOU PERMISSION TO GRIEVE IN YOUR OWN WAY. YOU DO NOT NEED IT BUT TODAY WE ARE JUDGED AND SOME LOSSES ARE TOO GREAT FOR PLATITUDES