Families of COVID victims brace for tough holiday without loved ones

The painful loss of life from COVID is experienced by more than 23,000 families across California.
For some of the families, there is a hole, both in their circle, and their hearts.
"This has really been a devastating year for us. COVID has changed our family forever," said Carla Collins.
Collins and her daughter, Maria Miller, said the bitterness of the COVID pandemic bit their family in April. Their aunt, 70-year-old Carmen Seron, was the glue that held the clan together.
"She was always there for us," said Maria Miller. "She just left a mark on everyone."
What they thought was a simple sinus infection worsened, until a diagnosis of coronavirus. Seron was the 47th virus-related fatality in Santa Clara County.
"She died alone, and we weren’t able to be with her. And I still can’t get over the cruelty of that," said Collins.
 Her family isn’t alone in dealing with the pain of loss this holiday season.
"It’s very difficult to lose someone during the holidays because you’ll always remember that person passed on that day," said Rose Amador LeBeau.
Rose Amador LeBeau said her ex-husband, 66-year-old Noe Montoya, died this past Thanksgiving from the virus. 

A musician and actor who loved people, Montoya had a special bond with his son Robert. All were aware of the dangers posed by COVID infection and even took precautions, but destiny was not kind to this blended family.
"You can still get it that way. And it’s so dangerous. You know during the holidays, you don’t want to lose somebody, or be the cause of losing somebody. And have to think about it every year from now on," said LeBeau. Added Santa Clara University psychologist Dr. Thomas Plante, "It’s likely in the future that thanksgiving day is gonna be kind of a hard day for this family."
He said the year of the pandemic and loss of life is creating a psychological tsunami that will wash over the culture for decades.
"We see that life changed pretty much permanently in some many different ways if you study the 19-18 pandemic. And that’s probably going to be true for our pandemic now," he said.
The changes faced by these two families, and tens of thousands of others in California, leave lasting scars from a year most would rather forget.
"It will never be the same. And so that’s what we’re trying to adjust to," said Collins.