© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Holiday season can be difficult for those grieving loss or feeling isolation

Woman holding yellow burning wax candle in her hands.
A woman holds a yellow burning wax candle in her hands.

The holiday season that begins with Thanksgiving and runs through New Year’s brings with it joy and celebration for many people. But for those suffering grief or isolation, or even feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to have the “picture perfect” holiday, these next weeks can be difficult.

On the “Sound of Ideas,” we discussed this topic with representatives from Cornerstone of Hope. The organization offers grief counseling and emotional support for people of any age dealing with loss.

The organization grew from founder Mark Tripodi’s own family tragedy. His only son, Bobby, died at the age of 3 in May 2000 from bacterial meningitis. “It was an absolute traumatic shock to our entire being,” said Tripodi.

He told “Sound of Ideas” host Jenny Hamel that the holidays remain difficult. “Even to this day, it’s 23 years later, this is still in our family one of the toughest times of the year.”

Personal grief and the search for help led Tripodi to found Cornerstone of Hope. The organization has a three-word mantra for anyone suffering loss: never grieve alone.

The organization offers a range of classes and other activities to help people in their grief journey.

Family-traditions are central to many people’s celebrations. When it comes to the loss of a loved one, Julia Ellifritt, a clinician at Cornerstone, says families have three options when dealing with traditions: keep everything the same, eliminate the tradition or change it. She says people need to give themselves flexibility to do what they need to do year to year.

“Grief is not something you get over. Grief is something you live with," said Ellifritt. She says while other losses can be surmounted, people do not “get over” the loss of a loved one.

“So many times people think, I want my grief to get smaller and smaller over the years. I don’t think that’s what happens,” she said. Instead she says rather than the grief diminishing, what happens is a person’s capacity to hold that grief grows allowing them to learn to live without their loved one. 

Cornerstone of Hope website

-Mark Tripodi, Founder and CEO of Cornerstone of Hope
-Julia Ellifritt, Education Director & Clinician at Cornerstone of Hope.

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."