Empath Health Community Partnership Specialist Kelly Siegel

At some points in our lives, we will walk in this world with loss and grief. But we are not alone. We can come together as a community to find hope and healing.

Several local deaths this year have struck the Jewish community especially hard.

“The community has had a lot of losses recently. The Temple B’nai Israel rabbi passed away from cancer and an entire Jewish family was killed in a plane crash. There was community grieving and professional grieving,” said Kelly Siegel, a member of the Temple B’nai Israel synagogue and an Empath Health community partnership specialist.

Siegel pointed her congregation to the grief counseling support at Empath Health, but they instead felt a need to bring that service in-house. She and Sandi Sunter, a fellow synagogue member and a former Suncoast Hospice grief counselor, were called to form and lead a group onsite.

“There’s a need and people seek help in different ways. We kept referring to our Empath Health locations and people were not attending. So we are providing services where people are comfortable and things are familiar. I think it’s a safe place being in their own synagogue with people they know,” Siegel shared.

The small group started meeting in October for four weeks. Participants have shared experiences, learned and received support.

“I am excited they came back. They reached out to friends who had a need and brought them. Some have lost adult children and some have lost spouses. They are struggling. It is hard for them to move on,” she said.

In the third week they planned to explore how past grief can resurface after tragic events, like the recent Pittsburg synagogue shooting and pipe bomb mailings that happened in several states.

“You keep paralyzing yourself when there are traumatic events on TV and you keep watching them over and over again. You have to be careful with emotional trauma. It (tragedies) does impact people who are actively grieving. Grief brings up old grief, so we wanted to be prepared in case people felt the need to talk about it,” she explained.

Siegel is glad to be out there supporting the community.

“You have to be in the community to listen. I know there’s a lot out there on social media and online, but people still need people,” she said.

We are Here for You

You are invited to join us for support. We offer grief counseling groups, traumatic loss counseling groups, special days and holidays grief workshops, individual grief counseling and illness support counseling at our locations. Visit our website and calendar to learn more, register or call for services.