By Brooke Katz

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Many tend to think of Christmas as a time of joy and cheer, but it can be a very difficult time for some. That’s especially true during the backdrop of a pandemic.

“Unfortunately this Christmas and last Christmas a lot of deaths have occurred during the course of COVID,” said Dr. Kenleigh McMinn, a clinical psychologist with Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. “There are a lot of people who might be celebrating their first Christmas without a loved one.”

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Dr. McMinn said it’s not just the loss of loved ones, but also the loss of traditions brought about by the pandemic.

“There are a lot of people who may just because of COVID not be able to travel to go be with their families,” she said. “All of that can kind of contribute.”

She said just checking in on your loved ones can go a long way. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask if there’s anything you can do for them. You can also try starting new traditions that can be done over long distance, like FaceTime opening presents together.

If you’re dealing with grief, Dr. McMinn said to remember it’s not one size fits all. Grief can look different from person to person. Give yourself grace.

“Know that what you’re feeling and the fact that you’re struggling is normal,” she said. “It’s okay to not feel happy around the holidays. A lot of people feel like they need to kind of push themselves or force themselves to put on a happy face to kind of celebrate that’s not necessarily the case. That may not be what you need.”

She said it’s important to take time for yourself if you need it. If you’re not in a celebratory spirit, don’t be afraid to decline the invites.

“Just recognizing it’s okay to just say no, you don’t have to explain yourself necessarily,” she said. “If you need to, just kind of take time away. Be off social media, maybe not even respond to text messages for a little while and that’s okay do what you need to do to give yourself a break.”

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Dr. McMinn suggested the following resources:

GriefShare – Grief Recovery Support Groups – GriefShare

The Compassionate Friends Non-Profit Organization for Grief

Home (childrengrieve.org)

Home | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Home | Mental Health America of Greater Dallas (mhadallas.org)

SAMHSA’s National Helpline | SAMHSA

Mental Health Resources – Mental Health First Aid

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