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Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,031 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Death affects us all. Yet it is still the last taboo in our society, and grief is still profoundly misunderstood...

In Grief Works we hear stories from those who have experienced great love and great loss - and survived. Stories that explain how grief unmasks our greatest fears, strips away our layers of protection and reveals our innermost selves.

Julia Samuel, a grief psyc
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Penguin UK
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  1,031 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very well written book, about how people cope with grief and loss. It's split into different sections... death of a partner, a parent, a sibling, a child, and gives us 3 or 4 examples of how people have reacted and eventually coped with grief. In addition, there's a really helpful chapter at the back about what we can do on a practical level when we experience bereavement. Some of it is obvious, but there are some very good ideas too. It's well written, with compassion and respect. I think it ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I started reading this book in the immediate weeks following the sudden death of my father, when I bought and read several books on grief, desperate to fix what is so obviously unfixable.

Author Julia Samuel does an excellent job of compassionately reminding the reader of certain inherent truths: we will all lose someone who will die, and we will all die ourselves. We suffer when we can't accept the truth of how things are. At the same time she points out how deeply unprepared most of us are as
Bookphenomena (Micky)
Written for the lay person and probably aimed at those experiencing grief, GRIEF WORKS is an approachable and manageable book of grief tales with some theory woven discreetly through. I imagine that those who are in the early midst of their grief journey may not read this cover to cover but dip into it and read the elements that they want. The book is in sections looking at different types of grief experience, such as, those who have experienced the death of a partner, or a parent or a child. Th ...more
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: character, story
I read this book because I heard a talk by the author on Dan Snow's history hits. I would suggest going and listening to this first.

This is an impressive book, and although I have finished it, and returned it to the library, it is one which I want to reread and mull over more. This book highlights the need to talk about death in whatever way is most needed by those who grieve. It is a series of stories of different people grieving. At times this is a very sad books to read, and a little awkward
Alice Chau-Ginguene
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very good book about grieving. With a very sanitized view to death in the western world, we are nearly not allowed to show any grief and expected to move on very quickly. I am Chinese, we treat death and grieving very differently. I am often shocked to see my European friends have to 'get on' with their lives after someone's passing. Every time I mentioned my late mother in law, I have been told to 'move on', which is very bizarre to me. In my culture, talking about the deceased is a way to re ...more
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 face
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book felt more like a psychologists memoir than a compilation of stories on how other people are working through their grief. At one point Samuel even writes, "I was struck that I was sitting opposite someone of my own generation who would probably be dead within the next 6 months. My mortality felt fragile." Really? 1) She's supposed to be focused on the person who is paying her for help. 2) Her feelings should be irrelevant unless the book is a memoir. The reflections at the end of each c ...more
Diana Moreno
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book just a week after my father passed away.
It helped me to accept what happened faster, I'm still in the process of recovering, but at least thanks to this book and plenty of meditation I'm managing better than expected everything.
It breakdown why you might be going through some of those feelings. That kind of it's helping me at the moment.

I highly recommend it to anyone who lost a loved one.
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Heartbreaking stories of love and loss, and the courage of people surviving after the death of their loved ones. Well-written with insightful learning on grief. Definitely recommend.
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I finished reading this collection of varied stories related to different forms of grief; when a loved one dies, when a parent dies, when a sibling dies, when facing your own death and when a child dies. This last chapter was the only one I didn't read as it felt too close to home with having a 9 month old myself. I don't think I would have been able to handle the emotions it was likely to raise.
Each story is different as are our individual responses to death and how we grieve. The self-awaren
Rosie Vaughan
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Having lost my dad just over 6 months ago, I wish I had read this book at the beginning of the grief journey! The tips at the end of the book were especially useful.

You can tell that Julia Samuel seriously knows her stuff and theory is subtly woven into accessible language. What struck a chord with me was her observation that one of the most painful things about grieving is the lack of understanding and bravery from friends and family of addressing the elephant in the room. The person has died,
Reads like a diary of a psychotherapist. Not what I was expecting or needing. Perhaps I'm looking for a cure for grief or a quick fix. It doesn't exist. Honestly, I don't think you can get help for grieving from a book, but I suppose for some this may provide some comfort knowing that others suffer from unbearable grief. This book also further proves everyone grieves differently. For me all I need to know are the steps in grieving (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) and have s ...more
Haya Dodokh
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Take this from a motherless daughter who wants her friends to understand her grief more - READ THIS BOOK!
it will help you understand your grief and how to deal with it, or if you know anyone dealing with grief, it will help you to understand them and be a good friend to them.
Simple and beautifully written!! it’s divided into sections dealing with the death of a partner, a sibling, a parent or a child drawing from case studies over a twenty five year period but is so compelling in its narrati
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent resource for anyone experiencing a loss, or if you want to support someone who has experienced a loss. There's technical information about the experience of grieving for a loss, as well as practical advice and a list of other resources you can turn to - both online and in books. ...more
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Profoundly helpful...even well after the grieving begins
Closer to 3.5, but I rounded up to 4.
This is a very gentle book about grief. The majority of the book are case studies of people who have experienced certain types of grief (death of a parent/sibling/child/their self), with reflections at the end of each section with some exercises as well as information about that type of grief. If you're looking for something with more hard facts or multiple step-by-step exercises, this isn't it. But if you want something to make you feel less alone in your gr
Connie Holt
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be so helpful to me as a bereft person. I appreciated the suggestions for others on how to support the grieving. I loved that it is research based.
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading a few books by Cathy Rentzenbrink, I realised I possessed little knowledge on grief. I picked up this book because I wanted to better understand the topic and learn how to help others if they were bereaved.

Grief Works gently breaks the silence surrounding the subject of death by introducing it through a series of sections, which consist of scenarios the author (a grief psychotherapist) has encountered, followed by reflections. If you want to start the daunting conversation about de
Vicki Duncan
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve heard Julia Samuel talk on a few podcasts over the years and I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages.

Julia puts her 25+ years of being a grief psychologist to great use in this book, breaking down what grief can look like to someone who has lost a child, partner, parent or sibling along with some great advice and guidance as to how we can be there to provide support to our loved ones who are suffering in what can be the bleakest of times.

It also talks about facing your own death with
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
In our household, death and dying are not 'taboo' subjects. This is largely because much of my volunteer and professional work is with people who are near the end of their life; experiencing grief; or are bereaved. I made a comment about something grief-related at dinner one night and my then 13-year-old rolled his eyes and said "Yes, Mum, we know it's okay to talk about death." Not sure he appreciated the fact that in some families, it's not okay to talk about death.

Similarly, I know a family t
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nf-self-help
This book was highly recommended by a guest on the "What Shall I Read Next?" podcast as a book that was enormously illuminating about the ways people grieve and how best to help them. It both delivered and disappointed. The importance of books like this is reflected in this startling statistic: 15% of all psychological disorders (at least in the U.K.) have unresolved grief as their source.

The author is a British psychotherapist with the NHS and private practice. The format of the book is to divi
this review is for the audiobook edition, narrated by the author. (i do own the paperback, so plan to read it, to process it more fully.)

look, the title tells you the subject matter, so going into it you should be expecting an emotional experience. it was certainly that for me. literally, i was in full-on ugly cry before the end of the first chapter/patient's story. the first two chapters, in particular, hit (apparently) too close to home. i've owned the paperback for a little while - i have no
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Practical information by Samuel from 25 years as a grief psychotherapist. She divides the book into sections with advice for understanding and helping (1) when a child dies, (2) when a partner dies, (3) when a parent dies, (4) when a sibling dies (5) facing your own death.

* An anniversary is a marker of time, and there is an intensity to it.
* Over time life grows around the loss.
* Even when we're in the middle of the grieving process, we will have moments of pleasure or happiness.
* When the reco
Marianne K
I really expected to like this book as I've am still in the process of working through the grief process albeit not the death of a person but the death of a marriage. The chapters about loss all highlight three people and how they handled or I should say didn't handle their grief hence the need for the therapist author's help. Maybe I was looking for an easy fix, or more help, but the take away is simply to get through grief you can't evade it, or anesthetize it away through drugs or alcohol, bu ...more
Nicole CeBallos
Jun 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The author speaks about different case studies from people she helped. I found it to be helpful and I wish I had read it after my grandma died. The main takeaway is that there is no wrong way to experience grief. It's different for everyone and it may never go completely away and that's fine. ...more
Sam Law
Read More Book Reviews on my blog It's Good To Read

This is a book that goes to the heart of the human condition, and a book that everyone should read at least once. Grief is an integral part of humanity, and how we do and don’t deal with it has serious consequences, for those around us, and equally for our own mental health. The author writes with precision, and a deep well of humanity.

The author takes case studies from her own clinical experience, and has it broken down into gen
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This will be the easiest book review I've written yet. If you're looking for one book to read on the subject of grieving and how to help yourself and others through it, this is not the one I'd recommend. It has more specific individual case studies and what these patients told the author, but... it has far less practical advice and information about grieving than the book I do recommend: On Grief and Grieving, by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

If you read my review for the Kubler-Ross book, you know why
Miriam Downey
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read my full review here: https://mimi-cyberlibrarian.blogspot....

Grief Works by Julia Samuel is a profound look at the process of grief. Samuel is a grief counselor, and the helps she offers comes from the stories of the grieving people she has met. Her approach is to listen and offer guidance only when necessary. In explaining grief, she makes a provocative statement that has stayed with me. “The process is in the movement—the back and forth—between the loss and restoration. Sadness, tears, ye
It's always uncomfortable when you are underwhelmed by a book about real people's sad experiences but the honest truth is that this book fell rather flat for me. I might ascribe that to 'reading and listening about death and dying' fatigue but I'm aware that someone I know (who I believe has worked as a bereavement counsellor) felt similarly about it, after we had both been impressed by Kathryn Mannix's With the End in Mind. And on the same day I finished it I've dived back into the excellent Ca ...more
Chloe Alby-Koop
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book, and have had some great conversations with friends and coworkers about their experiences with grieving the deaths of loved ones since reading.

I loved the way the book was split into sections - by the relationship of the clients to the person that had died. There were sections on the death of a spouse, of a child, a parent, a sibling, and also coming to terms with your own death. The book covered diverse experiences of loss - expected and sudden, peaceful and traumatic,
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Julia Samuel is a grief psychotherapist who works with bereaved families, both in private practice and at St. Mary's Paddington Hospital in London. She is the founder of the charity Child Bereavement UK. Grief Works is her first book. ...more

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“Grief doesn’t hit us in tidy phases and stages, nor is it something that we forget and move on from; it is an individual process that has a momentum of its own, and the work involves finding ways of coping with our fear and pain, and also adjusting to this new version of ourselves, our “new normal.” 2 likes
“Love from others is key in helping us to survive the loss of a particular love. With their support, we can endeavor to find a way of bearing the pain and going on without the person who has died—daring to go forward to trust in life again.” 1 likes
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