What is your life’s purpose?
To raise awareness of the need to support those who are bereaved—at any age, in any circumstances—and provide the support to enable them to rebuild their lives when they feel dead inside.
How are you living your purpose?
I’m a psychotherapist who has seen bereaved clients privately and in the National Health Service for the last 25 years. I’m Founder Patron and Trustee of Child Bereavement UK, which supports families when a child dies or a child is bereaved. I advise professional bodies and teach health professionals throughout the UK about communicating and supporting bereaved families. I’m Vice President of The British Association of Counseling and Psychotherapy. And I’ve just written a book, Grief Works, stories of how to survive when someone dies.
How did you find your purpose?
Through my childhood, I recognized that what my parents did to avoid pain was actually the main source of their pain. By the time my mother was 25, her two siblings and both her parents were dead. My father, his dad, and his brother were also dead by his mid-twenties. Neither of them talked about these significant losses—EVER. They never expressed their grief, so it remained alive and untouched inside them, which affected every relationship they had.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
Listen to your heart, let yourself try things out, let yourself fail, and don’t give up.
What resources do you recommend?
When Breath Becomes Air Paul Kalinithi
The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion
The Last Act of Love: The Story of My Brother and His Sister Cathy Rentzenbrink
Check out Julia’s appearance on the Today show, where she talked about her friendship with Princess Diana and her new book.
Or watch it on YouTube.
Julia Samuel is a grief psychotherapist who has spent the last twenty-five years working with bereaved families, both in private practice and with the NHS at St Mary’s Paddington where she pioneered the role of maternity and pediatric counsellor. She is Founder Patron of Child Bereavement UK, where she continues to play a central role. Grief Works is her first book.