Julia worked with unimaginable form of loss for the past 25 years (loss of children). She has several pearls of wisdom to share with us in this time of uncertainty when one cannot imagine a tomorrow (literally).
In this dialogue, Julia and I talk openly about the shocked of our current circumstances in the face of Covid-19 pandemic. Living losses that people are experiencing (jobs, finances, personal freedom, mind-space, relative certainty, our partners as we knew them and so on). We acknowledge that while we are all in this, everyone’s experience of it is different and equally valid. We are all in shock and are experiencing fear on so many levels. As humans, whenever we face an unknown stimulus, we experience a rush of fear. That is usually the initial reaction we get. We each learn how to cope and manage this feeling based on our mental capacities, sociocultural context, resources available and belief system. In the midst of this global pandemic, one can only image different shades of emotions including anger that are present as we are experiencing the ultimate threat to our mere existence. We talk about how to be responsive as best as we can rather than stay in a reactive state.
Julia invites us to be kind to ourselves, take it one day at the time and shares parts of Niebuhr’s serenity prayer “Accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other”. She wants us to slow down and first notice whatever that we are feeling, then naming the emotion and through this offering the release that we need to come out of our tunneled vision that is focused on the current disaster around us. She talks about giving permission to yourself and others to be, to experience and express their emotions the way they is meaningful to them without judgement and without trying to make meanings or sense of the current situation. Julie has worked with hundreds of people through various losses and knows that some of the coping mechanisms that encourage us to look away would be harming us in long run. She invites us to gently step into the pain that we are experiencing to be able to gradually name it, feel it fully, express it, release it and move forward with it.
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About Julia Samuel, MBE, Msc, MBACP (Snr Accredited) UKCP Registered Psychotherapist
Julia was Psychotherapist for Paediatrics at St Mary's Hospital Paddington, the post she established in 1992, where her role for 25 years involved seeing families who have children or babies who die, and where she trained and supported the staff. In 1994 she worked to help launch and establish The Child Bereavement UK and as the The Founder Patron was involved and in many aspects of the charities work, having a key role in fundraising, strategy and training. She has stepped back from active involvement now. In 2016 Julia was awarded an MBE in recognition of her services to bereaved children and in 2017 Middlesex University awarded her an Honorary Doctorate. In 2017 Julia published Grief Works which was a bestseller in the UK and has been published in 17 countries. In March 2020 she published This Too Shall Pass: stories of Change Crisis and Hopeful Beginnings and is a Sunday Times bestseller. She also has a private practice where she sees families and individuals for many different issues.