Be kind to yourself while grieving through the holiday season

Empath Health Spiritual Coordinator Elaine Cragel shares tips for those struggling with grief during the holidays. BY KAREN DAVIS-PRITCHETT M.Ed. | Empath Health Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion The holidays are usually a time of great joy, a season of ritual and tradition for families. Between decorating a tree, lighting the menorah, singing […]

Be kind to yourself while grieving through the holiday season
Empath Health Spiritual Coordinator Elaine Cragel shares tips for those struggling with grief during the holidays.

BY KAREN DAVIS-PRITCHETT M.Ed. | Empath Health Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The holidays are usually a time of great joy, a season of ritual and tradition for families. Between decorating a tree, lighting the menorah, singing carols, lighting the kinara, baking cookies, enjoying a feast and visiting friends, the holidays are filled with memory-making activities.

The holiday season can also be stressful. It may be challenging for those of us who are grieving. It is common for many of us to feel lonely, sad, or depressed even though the holidays are filled with joyous celebrations.

Suncoast Hospice and Empath Grief Care, both members of Empath Health, are resources for those struggling with grief during the holidays. On Nov. 16, Empath Health presented a Facebook Live program entitled “Remembering a Loved One During the Holidays: A Virtual Memorial Service.” The recorded presentation is available on Empath Health’s Facebook page.

During the program, Empath Health Spiritual Coordinator Elaine Cragel shared that the anniversary of her father’s death was the next day. She acknowledged that just getting through the holidays is enough for some.

“You’re doing what you need to do to take care of yourself,” Cragel said. “I’m dealing with a mixed bag of emotions and grief at a time when the expected emotions include peace and joy. We all try so hard for others. Why can’t we try hard for ourselves? So, take some deep breaths and remind yourself it’s OK to not be OK. But it’s also OK to smile.”

Grief is a journey and unique to each person, no matter if this is the first holiday season without a treasured loved one or if the loss occurred several years ago.

Empath Health Community Partnership Specialist Keosha Simmons offers the following tips for coping with grief during the holidays when she performs community presentations on the topic.

  • Allow yourself to grieve. It’s OK to feel sadness during the holidays. Give yourself permission to experience your emotions.
  • Create new traditions. Consider starting new holiday traditions that honor your loved one’s memory or bring you joy.
  • Lean on support. Seek help from friends, family or a therapist. Talking about your feelings can be therapeutic.
  • Set boundaries. It’s OK to decline invitations or activities. Prioritize self-care.
  • Practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that healing takes time.
  • Memorialize your loved one. Light a candle, create a memorial ornament or write a letter to your loved one to remember and honor them.
  • Volunteer or help others. Giving back can provide a sense of purpose and connection during difficult times.
  • Take care of your physical health. Eating well, exercising and getting enough rest can help you better manage grief.

Empath Health offers free grief support to people who live in Pinellas County through Empath Grief Care as part of its Full Life Care mission. Call 727-523-3451 for more information about individual and group counseling. Contact Keosha Simmons at 727-512-9599 to schedule a Grief Conversation presentation for your church or social organization or as part of your community event.