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Mental health experts weigh in on navigating a unique holiday season

It is an unusual holiday season as thousands of Americans stay away from family, due to COVID-19. Other families embrace a new normal after losing a loved one.

It is the most unusual of holiday seasons as thousands of Americans stay away from family due to COVID-19. Other families are embracing a new normal after losing a loved one to the deadly virus. 

A therapist and psychologist weighed in on how to make it through these times that may be harder than usual.

Dr. Angela Hill is a clinical psychologist with Parkland Hospital. She says it’s crucial we rely on virtual technology if we are distant from loved ones.

“Any type of connection you can as far as the virtual piece I think is really huge because even though you are not physically near them you can still see them, you can still speak with them,” Hill said. “I think that physical connection doesn’t have to be there necessarily but that emotional connection can still be strong.”

But for many, this will be the first holiday after experiencing the loss of a loved one.

Bryna Talamantez is a therapist who specializes in grief and loss. She says you can still find ways to honor those who have died. She does this with her parents who have both passed away.

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“During the holiday season we make sure to make their favorite cookies,” Talamantez said. “One of my mom’s favorite cookies is not my favorite cookie, so we make a small batch just so we’ve made them and we have honored her in that way.”

She hopes the families who are distant this year get creative too.

“We have been encouraging people to find the things you can still do,” Talamantez said. “Have grandma and grandpa still read the Christmas Story, The Night Before Christmas if that’s something your family really enjoys. And maybe you still buy matching pajamas and you send each other a text message saying ‘Hey we’re in our pajamas are you in your pajamas?’"

But if you are struggling, that is OK. And Dr. Hill and Talamantez want you to know friends and professionals are listening.

“We have big feelings and those big feelings are OK. We are allowed to be sad. We are allowed to be frustrated,” Talamantez said. “Just being able to express what you’re feeling makes you feel a little bit better.”

“There is absolutely a need to feel connected with something or someone,” Dr. Hill said.

No matter your situation, we hope happiness finds its way to your home this holiday.

“We can still do things to still help us feel connected in some way,” Hill said. 

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