Reviews

Book review: Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving

Psychotherapist David O’Driscoll reviews Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving

Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving

Julia Samuel

Penguin

£12.99 | 282pp

ISBN: 9780241270745

As a psychotherapist specialising in loss and bereavement, I am always asked for a recommendation on the best general introductory text on grief. I am immediately conscious of the vast literature on this subject. While this book does not feature people with a learning disability, I have no hesitation in saying it is the best general guide to grief I have read. There is so much to admire in this book. 

The author Julia Samuel has extensive clinical experience working for many years as a psychotherapist in the NHS and as founder of the Child Bereavement UK her knowledge shines through. 

The book is structured with five main chapters, each with three case studies. These case studies are moving and are at the heart of the book. The five chapters are focused on the deaths of partners, parents, siblings, children and finally on facing death ourselves. The book ends with some practical suggestions and resources.

Samuel is encouraging about non-professional people doing the simple things like taking time to listen, and just being with a patient. Most of all, what I enjoyed is the delightful way it is written – which makes this a joy to read, despite the subject matter.  

I think it is destined to become a classic. 


Reviewed by David O’Driscoll, psychotherapist at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust

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