Grief As a Learning Experience

Feb. 15, 2024
Older woman crying

Psychologist Mary-Frances O’Connor and director of the Grief, Loss and Social Stress (GLASS) Lab at the University of Arizona can be praised for pioneering one of the first neuroimaging studies, which found that losing a loved one causes disruption - not only to our life - but also within our brain. O’Connor has continued to dive deeper into these bonds and disconnects, with recent research now focusing on the biological mechanisms underlying grief and further illuminating prolonged grief - a state in which people don’t seem to heal, instead staying immersed in their loss for years.

O'Connor Headshot


In her book The Grieving Brain (HarperOne, 2022), O’Connor breaks down how brain circuits and neurotransmitters are affected by love and loss, and how we can use them to navigate our grieving processes. O’Connor gave an interview about how deep connections with others permanently change our neural wiring, and how we can learn to be more like ourselves again as our brain tries again understanding our routines and surroundings after a loved one is gone.

Read the full Q&A at the Scientific American website

Updated: 02/28/24