“This is the moment I accept the most challenging times will always be behind me and in front of me.”- Kobe Bryant
Today we are all still in shock and full of sadness. Yesterday, the world experienced the loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, a Gianna’s teammate Alyssa and her parents John and Keri, a basketball coach at Gianna’s school named Christina, school principal Sarah and her daughter Payton, and Ara the pilot. The outpouring of grief and love for the original GOAT of our generation has been incredible. He was a great player on and off the court. Kobe showed all of us that we could go out and have 5 60-point games in a career while being an upstanding human in society and a great example of a family man. With 20 years on the Lakers, multiple trips leading our basketball team in the Olympics, and in 2018 his Oscar for the best short about a poem he wrote to his beloved support, it’s no wonder that the world is grieving his loss. He was truly one of the most inspiring people that our generation looked up to. However, yesterday as the news was pouring in, I couldn’t help but wonder why we can’t talk about death and grief more often.
I don’t know about you, but my social media accounts yesterday were full of posts and news articles talking about the loss of Bryant and his daughter. There was even a post I saw a few times about how Bryant must have felt knowing that he and his daughter’s lives were about to end and what he could have been feeling. While reading all of these posts yesterday, I couldn’t help but think about how often I see children, teens, and families who have lost loved ones. For me in my field as a therapist who specializes in grief, I see these tragic losses almost daily. Grief is something that live-in our world daily, and our society only seems to be able to talk about it when someone famous dies.
One of the saddest parts of this story, is that in a week we won’t even be talking about it on social media anymore. This week there is so much going on in politics, so much going on with the upcoming Super Bowl, so much in our fast paced daily lives, that we won’t have this tragedy on the forefront of our minds probably after Wednesday. This too brings me great sadness because once again I live in a world where I see people forgotten in their grief everyday. After the first few weeks when a family experiences the death of a loved one, the family goes home, the rush of friends and visitors stop dropping by, the cards stop coming in, the meal trains stop, then it’s just you and your remaining family sitting with your grief. I get it, people go on with their normal routines and daily lives, but this is my plug to remember to check in on people periodically, even just a text, to make sure they know someone out there is still thinking about them.
Grief is hard, grief is uncomfortable, but grief is a part of every single one of us. This is why I work so hard to spread as much awareness about grief as possible, so here are my stats again. Remember, 1 in 5 children will experience the death of a loved one before they turn 18. 1 in 12 children will experience the death of a parent before they graduate from high school. These are real children who experience death and loss and it happens daily and then get 2 weeks of attention, and then they feel forgotten. After that what I’ve named the “lasagna period” they feel alone and they don’t know what to do.
As we all work through the pain of what this helicopter crash that killed one of our generation’s icons and his daughter and their friends, I urge you to think about what is it about this loss that is affecting you? Does it bring up unresolved grief feelings from a loss of your own? Does it make you sad for the friends and families of these beautiful souls? And I urge you to think about what you can do to keep the conversation of death and loss going. Our millennial thing to do is post on social media. You can post about your experiences, you can post pictures of your loved ones or even just reach out to a friend you know is hurting. The more that we make grief a less taboo subject, the easier the grief journey of children, teens, and families everywhere. This week, even in our grief and thoughts about our global loss, I encourage you to reach out to someone you know who is grieving and just let them know you’re thinking about them.
“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.”- Kobe Bryant
Today, we are thankful for the iconic moments Kobe gave us on and off the court. We are thankful for his heart that was big enough for all, including the kiddos he spent time coaching post retirement from the sport. He was a person we could be inspired by. Today, all of our hearts are broken for Vanessa and their three other children, Natalia, Bianca and Capri. Our hearts are also broken for the Altobelli family, the Mauser family, the Chester Family, and the Zobayan family. We wish them peace and comfort in this time, not just yesterday, not just today, but for the rest of their lives.