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South Florida realtor shares 'keys to overcoming grief' into new year of uncertainty

Posted at 5:14 PM, Dec 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-25 17:14:20-05

2020 comes to a close in just one week but the CDC says there are important numbers we need to pay attention to as we prepare for the new year. A recent Household Pulse Survey shows 36-percent of people have symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. And South Floridians are finding ways to help others adapt, heal and recover.

Sue “Pinky” Benson, a realtor with the Re/Max Realty Team knows the South Florida housing market.

”It’s a great time to buy and a great time to sell,” said Benson. “And for buyers the mortgage rates are so low that even people who have cash are looking to get mortgages because the money is there.”

Benson also knows the power and influence of social media.

“I created long before Facebook Live existed,” she said.

But everything these days isn't pretty and pink. And Benson’s social media platforms now suggest it.

“The social distancing, the wearing of the mask — these are all things that are very foreign to us and we're just mourning the loss of our old lives. and a lot of people have a hard time making that adjustment,” Benson said.

It’s an adjustment Benson documented on YouTube when she visited her father in an assisted living facility this month; he mom now lives in a nursing home.

“I think about those families that are in an assisted living facility or they're in a nursing home. They have to follow the rules regardless of what everybody's opinion is. They have to follow the rules,” she said.

And Benson hopes her journalistic approach to dealing with grief helps others.

“Let's heal and stop the anger stage,” Benson said. “Let's start moving forward because when that clock strikes on New Year's Eve and we go into the new year, just because it's 2021 it doesn't mean that ‘oh, masks and social distancing are gone.’ It doesn't work that way.”

Jennifer Tomko, Clarity Health Solutions psychotherapist and owner says 2020 was the perfect storm for grief, identity and societal turmoil. And she isn't surprised by the CDC’s numbers.

“It was really, really tough,” Tomko said. “Between the politics, Black Lives Matter, COVID-19 and people wondering about how they're going to get through it. Not seeing light at the end of the tunnel, not being able to connect and the financial strain.”

Tomko says while she does believe most people are at the stage of acceptance it can differ based on the person.

“Our version of acceptance is going to be different. So one of them is, ‘I accept the fact that I have to wear a mask.’ And somebody else's might be, ‘I accept the fact that I might get COVID-19 and I think this point is more important because I’m taking the right precautions.’”

Tomko says a big part of acceptance is experimenting. Similar to the adjustments we've all made during the holiday or the new hobbies people like Benson have started. And when that doesn't work seek out a professional.

“Obviously if there's any suicidal thoughts or just desire to escape or wanting it all to be over those types of things are red flags,” she said.

To learn more about Benson's personal journey visit here:

There's a list of hotlines and other resources to ensure you're mental health is in check going into 2021.

For immediate help in a crisis call 911.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522

National Child Abuse Hotline1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453

National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

The Eldercare Hotline 1-800-677-1116

Veteran’s Crisis Hotline1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text: 8388255