The Neuroscience of Grief with Mary-Frances O’Connor

Beyond the emotional experience of loss, researchers are now discovering what happens in our brain when we grieve. In her new book, The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss, neuroscientist and psychologist Mary-Frances O’Connor, PhD, shares a fascinating scientific perspective on the universal experience of grief, providing a new paradigm for understanding love, loss, and learning. O’Connor has devoted decades to researching the effects of grief on the brain, and makes the cutting-edge neuroscience accessible so that we can better understand what happens when we grieve and how to navigate loss with more ease and grace.

In this conversation we discuss:

  • How our brain approaches grief;
  • Seeing grief as a type of learning;
  • Why grieving takes time;
  • New grief different from old grief;
  • What happens when we get stuck in grief;
  • Using mindfulness with grief.

You can listen to our conversation wherever you stream podcasts (Apple, Spotify, iHeart Radio) or listen here:



Mary-Frances O’Connor is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, where she directs the Grief, Loss, and Social Stress (GLASS) Lab in investigating the effects of grief on the brain and the body. O’Connor earned a doctorate from the University of Arizona in 2004 and completed a fellowship at UCLA. Following a faculty appointment at UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, she returned to the University of Arizona in 2012. Her work has been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, and Psychological Science, and featured in Newsweek, New York Times, and Washington Post. Learn more at maryfrancesoconnor.com.



Kristen Manieri is certified as both a habits coach and a mindfulness teacher. Her book, Better Daily Mindfulness Habits: Simple Changes with Lifelong Impact, was released summer 2021. She specializes in: stress reduction, energy management, mindset, resilience, habit formation, rest rituals, and self-care. As the host of the weekly 60 Mindful Minutes podcast, an Apple top 100 social science podcast, Kristen has interviewed over 160 authors and thought leaders about what it means to live a more conscious, connected, intentional and joyful life. Learn more at kristenmanieri.com/work-with-me.

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