GRIEF WORKS by Julia Samuel
Kirkus Star


Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving
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A psychotherapist shares stories and advice from her 25-year practice as a grief counselor.

The death of a beloved family member, partner, or friend is an experience that will affect everyone at some point, yet communication surrounding the process of mourning can be awkward. Many individuals remain in a state of denial until the reality of losing someone hits them head-on, and while the pain triggered by the loss may eventually be minimized, ultimately there’s no getting around it. In this moving and insightful debut, Samuel offers an accessible handbook for anyone undergoing this experience, eloquently steering readers through the progression of understanding and accepting pain in order to move on in their lives. “In continuing to deny death,” writes the author, “we are inevitably denying the richness of life….Loss is intrinsic to the human experience….But in order to live truly, to experience life fully, we need to be able to accept that. We sometimes need to sit with pain and to accept discomfort. And at the far end of the spectrum of loss is grief, which is one of the greatest manifestations of psychological pain that we can go through.” The book is arranged in sections focusing on the nature of the loss—partner, parent, sibling, or child—with case studies of how individuals found some level of solace through their own approach to a particular grieving experience. In a later chapter, Samuel touches on facing your own death, and the final culminating section, “What helps: the work we need to do to help us grieve and survive successfully,” includes constructive advice for those who want to offer support. As a guide for the newly grieving, the book succeeds on many levels, and the author’s compassionate storytelling skills provide even broader appeal.

Though often touching on profoundly sad situations, Samuel’s stories and reflections consistently hit an authentically inspiring note.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5011-8153-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2017


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