Grief moves in and out of our lives. It arrives and passes like the rain.

When holidays, anniversaries and other meaningful days come around, you may feel another layer of grief reminiscing about past traditions and your loved ones who are gone. How can you shift from sadness to comfort?

One source of support is our Surviving Special Days and Holidays free workshops happening October through December at our three service centers. Any adults or children (grades Kindergarten to 12) who are grieving the deaths of loved ones may join together, share stories and emotions and learn strategies to cope and thrive.

One of the workshop speakers will be Dwight Douglass, a licensed clinical social worker and bereavement counselor for Suncoast Hospice. He says planning ahead for holidays and other special occasions is crucial so they become manageable.

“Take control of the holiday or the New Year, so it doesn’t control you. It’s okay to not feel like celebrating a holiday, but it’s important to find a way to honor it so you can still feel connected to your loved one(s),” Douglass explained.

He remembers the story of one mother who helped comfort her children during the first Father’s Day without their father. The mom presented them gifts of household items that their father had collected over the years.

“They were missing him and really hurting. It was such an honored time to remember their father. It was a wonderful way for them to take hold of their grief,” he shared.

One of the children’s workshop facilitators will be Tracy Horn, a licensed clinical social worker and bereavement counselor for Suncoast Hospice. She says the workshops help children express their feelings, participate in activities and find new ways to honor their loved ones.

“The holidays are special times for families and traditions. We’ll help the children process and make new memories without their loved ones present. This gives them a safe space to let go of a little pain and let in some joy. It’s okay to have happy times at the holidays, too.”

Tarra Ofosu, of St. Petersburg, keeps her mom’s (Phyllis Savage Woodard’s) memory alive for her two boys during Christmas and other special days. Woodard died in our hospice care in 2003 and the family found healing through our grief counseling and support.

“Christmas was her favorite holiday. She would cook a big Christmas breakfast at our house. We had a big tree, our house was decorated and we played music. My kids have never met my mom but they know her spirit. I tell them stories. Sometimes on her birthday, we get a cake and get together. At Christmas, I try to keep it special for my kids because my mom always kept it special for us.”

Join Us

The first Surviving Special Days and Holidays workshop will be held on October 31, 2018 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Garden House at our Clearwater Service Center, 5771 Roosevelt Blvd. Visit our calendar for more dates or call (727) 523-3455 for more information.

Registration is required only for the children’s workshops. Call (727) 523-3455 to register.