Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving

By: Julia Samuel

Published: January 16, 2018

Publisher: Scribner


Julia Samuel is a bereavement expert in the United Kingdom. She has spent 25 years working as a grief counselor. She was also a dear friend of Princess Diana and is young Prince George’s Godmother. Because death is still such a taboo subject and the grief process is deeply misunderstood, Samuel wrote this book to share stories of those who have suffered great loss and came through it.

In her book, she shares stories of clients who lost parents, spouses, children, siblings, and those who were faced with their own looming death. These stories are like mini vignettes of their counseling sessions, covering the highs and lows of the grief process. Many of her clients suffered from deep depression, alcoholism, fear, and anger. All of these are common emotions and actions when dealing with a loss. Some of the anger that was felt wasn’t so much from the death, but how others handled the death. One woman spoke of her deep anger and hurt over a close co-worker who stopped speaking to her after her mother’s death. Her friend said a simple “Sorry for your loss” and then never spoke to her again. This loss of a close friend along with her mother hurt her greatly. We don’t know why the friend stopped speaking to the bereaved friend, but most likely, it was that she didn’t know what to say or do, so it is easier to avoid that to possibly say the wrong thing.

I’ve read many books on grief and dealing with death and while this one followed similar stories of those left behind to suffer, I felt a bit detached from the personal stories. I can’t put my finger on why, but maybe they were written a bit too clinical, being told from the counselor’s perspective and not the client. What I appreciated most was the end of the book that dealt with the coping strategies both for the bereaved and for the friends and family of those grieving. After one of my close friends died suddenly this summer, a number of people have asked me how to handle it, knowing that I used to work in Hospice. I found her suggestions to be good reminders for myself when seeing those who are grieving as well as handling my own moments when I remember my friend. Samuel offers important suggestions for those suffering and for others who want to continue to be a friend or support the family member in their home. Whether you are suffering the loss of a parent to old age, a sibling to an accident, or a spouse to a heart attack, you are never prepared for the deep emotions and loss. Having family and friends there for you is critical to surviving in those weeks, months, and years after the death.

I think if you are grieving or know someone close to you who are grieving, this book could be helpful, especially the practical steps and advice at the end of the book. Samuel is obviously a leader in grief counseling and has years of research and experience to back up her advice.

Julia Samuel – source

Julia Samuel is a psychotherapist specializing in grief, who has spent the last twenty-five years working with bereaved families, both in private practice and with England’s National Health Service at St. Mary’s Paddington, where she pioneered the role of maternity and pediatric counselor. She is founder patron of the charity Child Bereavement UK, where she continues to play a central role. GRIEF WORKS is her first book. For more, check out her website, HERE.

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of the this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

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