It's OK That You're Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand

It's OK That You're Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand


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When a painful loss or life-shattering event upends your world, here is the first thing to know: there is nothing wrong with grief. "Grief is simply love in its most wild and painful form," says Megan Devine. "It is a natural and sane response to loss."

So, why does our culture treat grief like a disease to be cured as quickly as possible?

In It’s OK That You’re Not OK, Megan Devine offers a profound new approach to both the experience of grief and the way we try to help others who have endured tragedy. Having experienced grief from both sides—as both a therapist and as a woman who witnessed the accidental drowning of her beloved partner—Megan writes with deep insight about the unspoken truths of loss, love, and healing. She debunks the culturally prescribed goal of returning to a normal, "happy" life, replacing it with a far healthier middle path, one that invites us to build a life alongside grief rather than seeking to overcome it. In this compelling and heartful book, you’ll learn:

• Why well-meaning advice, therapy, and spiritual wisdom so often end up making it harder for people in grief
• How challenging the myths of grief—doing away with stages, timetables, and unrealistic ideals about how grief should unfold—allows us to accept grief as a mystery to be honored instead of a problem to solve
• Practical guidance for managing stress, improving sleep, and decreasing anxiety without trying to "fix" your pain
• How to help the people you love—with essays to teach us the best skills, checklists, and suggestions for supporting and comforting others through the grieving process

Many people who have suffered a loss feel judged, dismissed, and misunderstood by a culture that wants to "solve" grief. Megan writes, "Grief no more needs a solution than love needs a solution." Through stories, research, life tips, and creative and mindfulness-based practices, she offers a unique guide through an experience we all must face—in our personal lives, in the lives of those we love, and in the wider world.

It’s OK That You’re Not OK is a book for grieving people, those who love them, and all those seeking to love themselves—and each other—better.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781622039074
Publisher: Sounds True, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/01/2017
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 10,081
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Megan Devine
Megan Devine is a writer, speaker, and advocate for emotional change on a cultural level. She holds a master’s in counseling psychology. Since the tragic loss of her partner in 2009, Megan has emerged as a bold new voice in the world of grief support. Her contributions via her site Refuge in Grief have helped create sanctuary for those in pain and encouragement for those who want to help. For more, visit
Mark Nepo
Mark Nepo is a poet and philosopher who has taught in the fields of poetry and spirituality for over 35 years. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, he has published 19 books and recorded 14 audio projects. Mark has been interviewed three times by Oprah Winfrey as part of her Soul Series radio show, and was interviewed by Robin Roberts on Good 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. Visit for more info.

Table of Contents

Foreword Mark Nepo xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction xv

Part I This Is All Just as Crazy as You Think It Is

Chapter 1 The Reality of Loss 3

Chapter 2 The Second Half of the Sentence: Why Words of Comfort Feel So Bad 13

Chapter 3 It's Not You, it's Us: Our Models of Grief Are Broken 25

Chapter 4 Emotional Illiteracy and the Culture of Blame 39

Chapter 5 The New Model of Grief 57

Part II What to Do with Your Grief

Chapter 6 Living in the Reality of Loss 67

Chapter 7 You Can't Solve Grief, but You Don't Have to Suffer 85

Chapter 8 How (and Why) to Stay Alive 101

Chapter 9 What Happened to My Mind? Dealing with Grief's Physical Side Effects 117

Chapter 10 Grief and Anxiety: Calming Your Mind When Logic Doesn't Work 133

Chapter 11 What Does Art Have to Do with Anything? 149

Chapter 12 Find Your Own Image of "Recovery" 165

Part III When Friends and Family Don't Know What to Do

Chapter 13 Should You Educate or Ignore Them? 181

Chapter 14 Rallying Your Support Team: Helping Them Help You 197

Part IV The Way Forward

Chapter 15 The Tribe of After: Companionship, True Hope, and the Way Forward 215

Chapter 16 Love Is the Only Thing That Lasts 229

Appendix: How to Help a Grieving Friend 237

Notes 243

Resources 247

About the Author 249

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It's OK That You're Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
9168968 More than 1 year ago
Unlike countless books flooding the market on how to “get over,” “get through,” or “get beyond” the most profound thing that will happen to you, it’s important to have someone telling you that loss isn’t something that needs to be “fixed.” Meghan Devine is that person and her book, "It’s OK That You’re Not OK" is your permission to grieve and feel like life sucks in whatever way your life’s been impacted in losing someone. When she tells readers that “out-of-order death or a life-altering event enters your life, everything changes,” she’s spot-on. I know this firsthand. In 2017, my only son was walking across America when he was hit and killed in Florida's Panhandle region. As a poet and activist, he had begun a cross-country walk in the fall to raise awareness about the effects of climate change. This was his second cross-country walk—his first one he completed in 2010 in 81 days!. His death has been devastating to me and my wife. We have been living with the fall-out from losing an only son, which was the gut-punch that thrust us into a place we never imagined we would be. There are a few great books that deal with grief and loss realistically—both of Joan Didion’s books are amazing. I’ve read a couple of others that are good in terms of honesty about the impact that comes when a tragic death occurs. There are also a myriad of self-help books with syrupy bromides about how to "get over" your feelings of loss and feeling adrift. Megan’s book takes a reality-based approach in detailing the kind of loss I’ve been living with for more than a year. I am grateful to her for writing it and validating many things I’ve been feeling since January, 2017, but often felt that maybe being angry, or bitter, or not wanting people’s “prayers” made me abnormal, whatever the hell that means during a time like this. Detailing the inability of others to approach the grieving, thinking that the best approach is for them to put it all behind you. If you love someone more than life itself, do you want to put that person and all the memories you have of them behind you? And losing an adult child (or a parent, a partner/spouse, or best friend) means you have a flood of memories. To be asked to “get over it” feels like yet another violation, as if you are being forced to abandon the person you loved who is no longer here. I wish I’d found this book sooner—like a month after my son was killed. While I had trouble reading the first few weeks afterwards, by four weeks, I was craving books that could help me, not make me feel worse. This is a book I’m now recommending to others. I’ve bought extra copies so I can give them to people right after the floor of their life falls away when someone close to them dies or is killed. I’d suggest you do the same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Megan Devine hits the proverbial nail on the head when it comes to grief. "The way we deal with grief in our culture is broken," she writes. And so begins her book, It's OK That You're Not OK. As a mental health practitioner and someone who has recently experienced a major loss, this book spoke to me on many levels. Megan begins by describing the history of grief and models used to explain it. She then delves into what to expect in the early stages of grief, and how to cope with different types of loss. The book is easily accessible in that you can skip to any chapter that is relevant to you. The language is clear and easy to understand, as is the message. Grief is something that may be a universal experience, but is not easily spoken about universally. Grief is like the dusty old skeletons we have hiding in our dark closets, and Megan Devine encourages us to take them out, clean them up, and sit with them in the light. Because as much as we would like to try anything to escape grief, we can't, if we want to remain an emotionally healthy human being. And we shouldn't, because, grief isn't something to be ashamed of, but rather something to be acknowledged. Megan's book convinced me that I am not going "crazy." that I am not alone, and that I have every right to feel what I am feeling. Not only does she provide advice for the grieving, but she also suggests tips for those who are friends or loved ones. This book is one that should be read by everyone. especially those who are lost and feel like there is something wrong with them. You are grieving. There is nothing wrong with you. It's OK that you're not OK. Grief is not something that can be fixed, only carried, and Megan's words have helped me to carry it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thankfully found Megan through a HuffPo article she wrote about why the stages of grief don’t work. I found her website and immediately was drawn to her authenticity and poetry. This book is a must for everyone, because we will all be affected by profound loss.