Author: Julia Samuel

Publisher: Scribner

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8153-5

Julia Samuel. Author of Grief Works, is a patron founder of the children’s charity Child Bereavement UK. (2017, inside back cover) This is her first book. Samuel is a psychotherapist that specializes in grief. She has spent over twenty five years helping families come to terms with grief and had a pioneering role in developing maternity and pediatric counseling for England’s National Health Service at St. Mary’s Paddington.

The introduction talks about how Samuel began her work as a grief counselor and what she has learned since practicing this profession over the course of nearly three decades. She states that “As humans, we naturally try to avoid suffering, but, contrary to all of our instincts, to heal our grief we need to allow ourselves to feel pain; we need to find ways to support ourselves in it, for it cannot be escaped.” (2017) She is correct in this assessment. Grief is a natural part of life and learning how to deal with it positively is simply not easy.

The book is divided up into sections according to the loss suffered. I.e. losing a partner, losing a parent, losing a sibling, and losing a child, as well as, facing our own mortality and what can help. The reader is easily able to skip ahead to whichever section pertains to their particular grief and learn how to better cope. There are case studies highlighted in this book from her counseling that may mirror some of the things you or your family/friends are feeling that might trigger ways to move through your grief and get out whole on the other side.

Grief can be overwhelming and all consuming. People deal with their grief in varying ways. Many times people do not know that there are people and services that can help them deal with their losses and make sense of their lives after the loss of a loved one. To which Samuel says, “You will have seen that I haven’t offered neat solutions or quick fixes, which would be more palatable and fit better with our relentless desire to solve everything; instead I have shown the extraordinary courage of many different individuals who have found a way to endure the pain of their loss, accepted the support they needed, learned to help themselves, and started to live their lives again.” (2017, p.234)

This book can serve as a self-help template, but should not take the place of a quality therapist. It is her [Samuel’s] hope that you, as a grieving person might be someone, “…who has been brave enough to read this book, you have, I hope, found these stories inspiring and replaced your fear with confidence…”. (2017, p.235)

I have dealt with much grief in my life and like the author, know it is not easy to overcome those deep feelings of loss. This book invited me to look inward and to walk through those emotions attached with loss and to heal those wounds. While this topic is not pleasant, at least not for most people, it is a real part of life and living. Read it, take what lessons help you to come to terms and heal so that you are able to live your life to its fullest even when faced with devastating loss.