Getting Grief Right: Finding Your Story of Love in the Sorrow of Loss

In 2015, when the New York Times ran Patrick O’Malley’s story about the death of his infant son — and how his inability to “move on” challenged everything he was taught as a psychotherapist—it inspired an unprecedented flood of gratitude from readers that continues to this day. What he shared was a truth that many have longed to hear: that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Illuminated by O’Malley’s own story and those of the many clients that he’s supported, Getting Grief Right shows us how the commonly used “stages of grief” approach can trivialize our sorrow, treat it as a mental disorder, press us to “get over it,” and worsen our suffering with shame and guilt when we don’t. With sensitivity and support, readers will explore grief not as an illness, but as the continuing story of our connection to the one we’ve lost, to be fully felt and woven into our lives.

Book Highlights

  • What’s Wrong with Me?
  • A Therapist Grieves
  • The Cage of the Stages
  • The Way Forward Through Stories 
  • On the Right Path
  • No Person’s Grief the Same
  • Know Thyself 
  • How Death Comes
  • Attachment and Grief 
  • Your Story 
  • The Culture of Positivity 
  • The Expectations of Others

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About The Authors

Dr. Patrick O'Malley has been providing grief counseling and education to clients, volunteers and colleagues for more than 35 years. He has also served as a consultant to physician practices, attorneys and businesses, and has several professional publications on grief and professional ethics. He lives in Fort Worth. Read more:

Tim Madigan is an award-winning Texas newspaper journalist and author of four books, including The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921; I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers; and Every Common Sight: a Novel. He lives in Fort Worth. Read more:

Advance Praise

"A must read for anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. When it comes to professionals, Dr. Patrick O'Malley is the best of the best. This book is a special gift to the world and sure to become a classic.” 

Dr. Ken Druck Author, The Real Rules of Life: Balancing Life’s Terms with Your Own; Courageous Aging: Your Best Years Reimagined

"Avoiding clichés and shattering the idea that grief marches through some predictable and lock-step set of ‘stages,’ O’Malley instead understands that every experience of grief is personal and unique and that every griever has a story worth telling. This book is immensely valuable, both for those who grieve and for those who want to offer them true consolation..”

Thomas G. Long Coauthor of The Good Funeral: Death, Grief, and the Community of Care

"Getting Grief Right offers both individual mourners and grief groups a restorative approach to handling grief, while preserving memories of our loved ones. O’Malley and Madigan . . . offer a template for the reader’s grief journey that works in both private and group settings. I highly recommend the book’s study guide for anyone interested in honoring their own grief journey or eager to help others who have recently experienced loss.”

Candi Cann, PhD Associate professor of religion at Baylor University and author of Virtual Afterlives: Grieving the Dead in the Twenty-First Century 

"With profound compassion and juicy storytelling, Patrick O’Malley offers those of us whose lives have been shattered by loss permission to mourn our loved ones with all our hearts and find our own transformational stories in the crucible of our authentic life experiences."

Mirabai Starr Author of Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation; translator of Dark Night of the Soul (John of the Cross)  

"Getting Grief Right is a compassionate, wise, and practical guide that gives space for our grief to tell its own story and be as it is. A very valuable, up-to-date resource for anyone wanting to consciously navigate this challenging inner landscape."

John J. Prendergast, PhD Author of In Touch: How to Tune In to the Inner Guidance of Your Body and Trust Yourself; psychotherapist; adjunct professor of psychology (retired), CIIS

"Patrick O’Malley touches an issue dear to my heart and mind: the importance of telling the truth about loss, which is really the truth about love . . . [H]e normalizes grief, offering it back to the griever to explore and define their own experience within the wide frame of health and wellness.”

Megan Devine Teacher, speaker, psychotherapist, and author of 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

"Patrick O’Malley has created a subtle, honest, and delicate understanding of living a life of grief. Getting Grief Right is not a list of stages or rules . . . Grieving does not end, O’Malley softly notes, but the stories that we tell about those we have lost turn the grief right back into the love from which it springs."

Rita Charon, MD, PhD Professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center; executive director, Program in Narrative Medicine; author of Narrative Medicine: Honoring The Stories of Illness  

"O’Malley validates my experience of ministering for forty-five years to grieving people: they want to, they need to, talk about and remember their loved ones who died. He helps us understand what is unique about each person’s grief story, and how our grief story is our ‘therapy.’"

Fr. Charles Calabrese Chaplain, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth

"Dr. Patrick O'Malley is a very wise, compassionate storyteller . . . He helps us understand that to mourn and grieve is as natural as breathing. We ask, ‘How long will it take?’ Dr. O'Malley says, ‘How deeply did you love?’ This book is a masterpiece that will touch your heart and soul with healing powers.”

Peggy Bohme Cofounder of The WARM Place grief support center for children (Fort Worth, Texas)

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