Tackling grief – the last great taboo

Grief counsellor Julia Samuel MBE will lead a discussion about the way we handle bereavement as part of the Pureland Series at China Exchange on November 7.

“Death is the last great taboo,” says Samuel, who set up the support and education charity Child Bereavement UK, “and its consequence, grief, is profoundly misunderstood.”

Samuel has worked for more than 20 years at St Mary’s Hospital in London, counselling families through baby loss and child death, and recently channelled that expertise into a book called Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving, published in March 2017.

Her work has led her to explore all the effects and stages of grief, from processing loss to coping with its practical and emotional results. One crucial point she makes is that: “Time takes on different hues in grief: grieving takes longer than anyone wants or expects, we cannot fight it.”

For this event, which is supported by the Pureland Foundation, Samuel will be joined by ITV news presenter and journalist Tom Bradby and Victoria Milligan, who lost her youngest daughter Emily and husband Nick in a speedboat accident in Cornwall in 2013. Milligan will be offering her own experience of sudden double bereavement and exploring how those left behind make a future not just for themselves, but also for remaining family. “I know that I will never fully get over what has happened to me,” she says, “but I also know that the only way my children and I will have a future is by working our way through the pain of grief.”

The Pureland Series aims to enrich lives through creativity, spirituality and self-expression. It is a showcase for the vision and work of the Pureland Foundation, which supports social, spiritual and emotional wellness through art and music.