Weathering the storm: Four who worked through their traumas

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Sheila Hancock

After writing a memoir, The Two of Us, about her life with John Thaw (who died from cancer in February 2002), the actress worked almost constantly, appearing in TV programmes from Bleak House to The Catherine Tate Show and the West End production of The Anniversary.

Maureen Lipman

The Christmas after Lipman's husband, the dramatist Jack Rosenthal, died in 2004, she starred in a pantomime with Sir Ian McKellen, and had soon completed Rosenthal's unfinished autobiographical screenplay. "I had about eight months when I didn't really do anything," she later said, "then I thought, 'I've got to get on with it.'"

John Bayley

When the writer's wife, Iris Murdoch, succumbed to Alzheimer's, he coped by writing two books about the experience – the first of which became a bestseller and a film. In 1999, the year of his wife's death, Bayley was awarded a CBE and remarried.

Nigella Lawson

Lawson was writing for The Sunday Times when she met her first husband, John Diamond. It was his idea that Lawson write a cookery book. "I find it hard to sleep," she said at the time, "so I am often in the kitchen at 2am, sieving pumpkin..." Ten weeks after Diamond's death from throat cancer in 2001, she was filming another series of Nigella Bites, and has since presented two further series and written their accompanying books.