MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There is good that’s coming from the current state of isolation.

It was supposed to be a well-timed getaway for Chris Turner, an Alabamian turned Minnesotan.

“You know I’m 1,100 miles from my family and I only get to see them a few times a year and hadn’t seen them since Christmas so I was looking forward to going to see them,” said Turner.

COVID-19 canceled the trip, but not the family fun; for the first time, they set up a family Zoom session.

“I got my two sisters and Mom and Dad on the line and we just sat for an hour and we just sat and cracked jokes,” said Turner.

She said she was surprised how authentic the experience was.

“My nephew who likes to annoy people in real time is back there aggravating his Mom in real time and doin’ things you’re like okay that’s just like normal,” said Turner.

Psychiatrist Cheryl Bemel says video conferencing is good for mental health. When you talk with someone on the phone it’s not the same as when you can see them in person; you can’t see their expressions.

“When you connect with your community and see each other’s faces it activates serotonin,” she said.

Families who live together are also growing in communication – sharing dinner and deeper conversations.

“As difficult s this time is it may be a renaissance of deeper interaction as we pare down,” said Bemel.

Bemel suggests families talk about heavy subjects, like end of life care, or health wishes. She says her biggest hope is that after this experience, families will continue to regularly have real, in the moment conversations.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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