I never imagined I would ever write a book, mainly because I didn’t dare believe I could. I’ve always felt that I wasn’t clever, leaving school at 16 and not going to university meant I tagged myself as unacademic.
Anyway it turns out I can and I bloody well did. I still don’t fully believe it myself. The fact that I did was thanks to the belief and persuasion of other people, which meant I gave myself the chance; I don’t think we can ever underestimate the importance of being believed in by others, how that can transform the often limited view of ourselves, that can get fixed from a very young age.
This may seem an inappropriate analogy, for someone who is as happily married as me - but it did feel a bit like having an affair. I was completely obsessed with it, every moment of every day I was preoccupied with what I would write next, untangling memories that had got stuck, finding better words to describe processes. I woke early and wrote before breakfast, I wrote on the train, aeroplane on holiday plus every spare moment I wasn’t counselling or teaching. My husband would say I had my ‘book face’ when we were walking or eating or sitting together, when I was far away from him whilst I was right beside him. He was patient….thankfully…
The stories of my clients grief came pouring out of me, I loved writing every word. I felt as if they had been sitting in my being, like a film on iplayer, waiting for me to press play. And the more words I found to describe their processes the more I realised I’d learned from them over these decades. It clarified for me the message I want to get across, how much I want to move the dial in our understanding of grief and bereavement.
If you read it, I would love to hear from you - tell me what I have missed out, got wrong, what you like love resonates with you - anything - and I can improve the paperback version to include your views.
Julia Samuel March 2017