Many celebrities have written a ‘My Story’, but television personality Jeff Brazier's first book this summer is creating more anticipation than most – and could be ‘your story.’
The presenter, whose relationship with reality star Jade Goody created headlines a decade ago, has been penning The Grief Survival Guide. Due for publication in June, it’s set to be no showbiz memoir, but a handbook about coping with bereavement. It’s been inspired by Jeff’s own experiences of fatherhood after the death of his former partner, Jade, and with added insight as the life coach he has since become.
Jeff Brazier talks about the invaluable role of child bereavement charity, Grief Encounter
During the process of writing the book, Jeff has engaged with fans and followers on Twitter, asking them to share their own experiences of loss and grief, as well as family issues they have had to overcome in the wake of someone’s death.
Since Jade died aged just 27 from cancer in 2009, Jeff’s priority has been quietly raising their two sons, Bobby, now 13, and Freddy, 12. Keeping the boys well away from the spotlight, his focus has been to look after them a safe and loving environment, as they have grown up without their mum.
Jeff, who is also an ambassador for children’s bereavement charity Grief Encounter, became a qualified life coach in 2014. As a newspaper columnist and a blogger, he’s been movingly frank about the challenges (and joys) of single parenthood. Among them have been the checks and balances involved in maintaining a loving discipline as the boys grow up, whilst identifying behaviours connected with their grief and loss and how it affects them as they get older.
Opening up in the Huffington Post in 2012 about bringing up two boys without their mother, he said: “I’m under no illusion who my children would rather have here bringing them up, and in moments of anger and frustration they have once or twice reminded me as such.
“But all I can do is remain focused in my role as all-and-everything, to get them through it and to take the effects of their loss on the chin.”
In the wake of the Government replacing a longer-term Widowed Parent's Allowance with the new 18-month Bereavement Support Payment, Jeff has also joined forces with Grief Encounter and other bereavement charities including Widowed and Young, as part of a taskforce to raise greater awareness of the financial and emotional hardships faced by families bringing up children following the death of a parent.
He explained: “If I look back to when it was 18 months after the boys lost their mum, that was when they were ultimately right in the eye of the storm. They really did not know where to put themselves and I remember feeling particularly helpless. That was the time when I needed support the most - whether it was from my friends, from support groups, or whether it be financial benefits from the Government.”
Trial and error
In both his writing and TV appearances, Jeff's been honest about how bringing up two bereaved children has often been a process of trial and error. What he’s learned to date will surely be a good companion for others also coping with bereavement, who are similarly feeling their way along in the dark.
Although Jeff says, ultimately, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution to living with and managing grief, his Grief Survival Guide will offer practical advice on everything from preparing for the eventuality of death, on dealing with grief, how to support family and friends, and moving forward.
He told publishing industry journal The Bookseller: “Writing this book has brought me a privileged view not only of grief in its entirety, but how we react as humans when processing loss.”
While he was writing the book, Jeff welcomed conversation and insight from Twitter followers who’ve found their own ways of coping with bereavement and the often-unexpected ways it can change our lives.
Throwing out questions and even conducting straw polls,more than 1,500 people responded, when he posted: “I’m writing about ‘acceptance in grief’ today. I see it as a fundamental ingredient to moving through the stages. Where are you with yours?”
He said: “If the book is as fascinating to read as the subject is to research, it'll help many navigate through grief.”
The Grief Survival Guide: How to Navigate Loss and All That Comes With It, is due out on June 29, published by Hodder & Stoughton.