On the show this week, I’m delighted to be joined by Julia Samuel. She is a British psychotherapist who specializes in grief and bereavement, and founded the UK Child Bereavement charity, that works with children who are grieving, as well as those who are grieving the loss of a child. She is the author of Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving.
Julia is a truly delightful person and I really enjoyed getting to speak with her. At first blush, grief may seem to be a strange topic to be covered on a show about joy, but, I see the two emotions as beautiful bookends to each other. Both states are vulnerable in their own ways, both grief and joy are deeply personal things, and each of us experiences them in our own ways.
What I love so much about Julia Samuel’s book is that she honors and understands that the journey of grieving is different for each person, and that it’s different based on who you have lost in your life. She chose to divide the book up into sections based on the person’s relationship to the deceased.
Julia explains in the interview that she chose to do this because grief is different for each person, and because she wanted the book to be a companion for people who are grieving. She made it easy to pick up, easy to read a bit at a time, easy to see yourself in one of the people she shares about. She also includes the explanations, from a clinical perspective, of what is happening in the bereavement described – the patterns, what to expect, how you might feel. It’s a book crafted for people when they are experiencing something that makes them feel separate, disconnected, alone, and isolated, and gives them support and insights during a difficult time.
Julia and I talk about:
- Her first love of swinging on her garden swing as a child Starting Child Bereavement UK, and her work as a patron
- Her early influences, including the bereavement of her parents
- Her love of personal connection, and how that led her from a role in publishing to becoming a grief and bereavement counselor
- The roots and starting point for her book, Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving
- Why people shut down and isolate when they grieve, and why they judge themselves on a right or wrong way of grieving
- Why allowing yourself to feel the emotions of grief is important
- How to feel the emotions of grief and loss without being overcome by it
- The impacts of losing important figures like Princess Diana to society, and why so many people are deeply stirred by these tragic losses
- How a country processes the loss of children in tragedies like school shootings, as it raises the questions of “the existential cruelty of life”
- How Julia reacts to resistance, by continuing on her path
- How to jump start your joy: by enjoying her grandchildren’s giggles, getting in touch with nature, and watching romantic comedies and The Amazing Miss Maizel
Julia Samuel’s Website
Julia Samuel’s book, Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving on Amazon
If you are grieving: Julia’s 8 pillars of strength (a free download)
On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elizabeth Kubla-Ross
Waking the Tiger, by Peter Levine (a book on healing trauma)
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel on Amazon Prime