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Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving Hardcover – 15 April 2017
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Fascinating. A wise and compassionate book full of insight and understanding that would help anyone experiencing grief, or those surrounding them. I am so glad this book exists. -- Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of 'The Last Act of Love'
What an amazing book! I absolutely LOVE it. Intelligent, empathetic, modest, funny, and learned - it's an amazing feat. -- Rabbi Julia Neuberger
A wonderfully important and transforming book - lucid, consoling and wise. -- William Boyd, bestselling author of 'Sweet Caress'
Julia Samuel's wise, compassionate voice speaks out on every page of this exceptionally moving book offering courage and hope: emotions that are sometimes inaudible and and unattainable to those who grieve. Her exceptional understanding of the way human beings think/love/mourn makes Grief Works an invaluable guide to understanding the complex emotions around death. Through the inspirational stories of those many people she has helped, both the dying and the surviving, Julia Samuel dissipates fear and demonstrates the extraordinary resilience of humankind. -- Juliet Nicolson, author of 'A House Full of Daughters'
The stories of [Julia's] clients are set out with such eloquence, sensitivity and insight and I learned something from each one of them. I liked her honesty about how difficult it can be for a therapist to find a way into communication with someone who is in the throes of grief, and how much the therapist can doubt herself. And the way she teases out the slow, arduous process of recovery is truly heartening. I don't often read a book which offers such direct and generous support. -- Helen Dunmore
The book will allow us to stop feeling awkward and uncertain about death - and why we should talk honestly about grief ― Guardian
A moving guide to dealing with grief - a rigorous, researched but above all readable study of how to deal with death, dying and grieving. The book is self-help at its most philosophical, practical and profound... Anyone who has every struggled with the obscure, muddled, vulnerable, uncertain, fearful, elemental process of bereavement, or facing their own mortality, should find this book of help-- Helen Davies ― Sunday Times
This invaluable guide gets to the heart of grief, showing how a simple act like making a meal for someone who is bereaved, or sending a card with memories of the deceased, can make all the difference ― Sunday Express S Magazine
Psychotherapist Julia Samuel's case studies provide vital and compelling insights into bereavement (...) fascinating and affecting ― Observer
If a single book could help you to be kinder and more compassionate, could expand and deepen your understanding of other people (and possibly yourself) and make you less afraid of dying in the process, you would surely be eager to acquire it at once. Well look no further, for Grief Works is that book ― Spectator
Brilliant -- Mariella Frostrup
Samuel turns out to be a remarkable writer (...) what is impressive is that such harrowing material should result in such a readable book ― The Oldie
A very helpful book ― The Lady
A brilliantly insightful look at the complexities of bereavement ― Daily Mail Ireland
- Publisher : Viking; 1st edition (15 April 2017)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 296 pages
- ISBN-10 : 024127074X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0241270745
- Dimensions : 13.8 x 2.9 x 20.4 cm
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I purchased this book just under a year ago and think I may have read the chapter ‘When a Sibling Dies’ having lost my brother just under three years ago. I couldn’t bring myself to read the rest of the book until a few days ago; the author herself acknowledges for some individuals who have been bereaved, it can take a long time to even concentrate on reading. But I’m really glad to have read this book cover to cover. Some of the case studies will resonate with readers more than others; for me the stand out cases in addition to those covered in the chapter on sibling death were ‘Phil and Annette’ (parents grieving the death of their child), and ‘Barbara’ (suffering kidney cancer and coming to terms with her own impending death).
Chapter endings offering the author’s ‘Reflections’; the chapters on ‘Understanding Grief’ plus ‘Pillars of Strength’ covering how we the bereaved can help ourselves were extremely useful and I’ll probably refer back to these sections again.
I think Phil (‘Phil and Annette’) hit the nail on the head in describing grief - "‘It’s something that you go off and do on your own. It’s quite lonely. We all share in the family grief, but the grief I feel as an individual doesn’t happen at the same time as theirs, and isn’t the same as anyone else’s. We’re each wired differently, and one of us might feel the same thing with a different intensity at a different time. But in the end you have to deal with it yourself.’"
This was not an easy book for me to read cover to cover and I think if you are going through bereavement yourself, you have to be in the right frame of mind to read it and to really benefit from not only the author’s guidance but also from the experiences of the individuals the author is writing about. Individuals who have been so incredibly frank and honest recounting very personal experiences of their own grief.
The author doesn't claim too much for her work - some clients she helps a lot, others a little and some are much easier to relate to than others - but the stories make clear the value of her working life.
I did wonder to what extent the case histories are all of grief 'complicated' by other factors of one kind or another - after all there will be some reason why some bereaved people seek counselling and others do not (though some of this, as the author points out, having to do with expectations of particular age groups for example). I wondered: do we all really need this sort of provision whenever we are bereaved (in an ideal world). That would be a large client population. Perhaps many can simply gain enough support though from reading books like this one.
If you work as a counsellor, I would highly recommend this, and it would probably be a very useful book to have if you have recently been bereaved and are either waiting for counselling or want to explore other avenues first.