Basketball Mental Skills Article

Dealing With Grief As An Athlete

“Los Angeles is mourning the loss of one of our most beloved legends and icons. Though Kobe Bryant is no longer with us, our city will never forget what he meant to us, and we will keep his legacy alive forever.” Congresswoman Karen Bass

There aren’t many things as painful for an athlete as losing a loved one.

Whether it’s a parent, partner, spouse, friend, or child, the pain can be overwhelming.

Recovery is often a slow, arduous journey, but it gets easier if dealt with property.

Grief is a highly personal experience, which means everyone experiences it differently.

However, research has revealed a few common patterns of behavior. They have been grouped into five main stages.
• Denial
• Anger
• Bargaining
• Depression
• Acceptance

Acknowledge The Lost

The most common attitude among athletes dealing with significant loss is one of – “I will get past this” or “I’m focusing on the future.”

They try to avoid the feelings, hoping it will go away, often making things worse.

The first step in your journey of healing is to acknowledge your loss.

The hurt you feel after losing someone close to you must be acknowledged before it can be reconciled.

Talk to someone you trust, someone you know will listen to your feelings.

If you’re trying to help someone who’s suffered loss, invite them to share their story by asking “soul searching” questions like “how has this loss affected you?” “where do you feel the pain in your body?”

This type of conversation will help normalize the pain, which is a vital step on the path to a recovery

Accept The Pain

Find a quiet place to be alone with your thoughts. During these moments, learn to examine your feelings about your loss. Allow your thoughts and feelings to the forefront without judgment.
Look your pain in the face and accept it.

While it is unfortunate that many of the traditions that once accompanied death are slowly fading away, there are still ways to remember those who are no longer with you.

Join a sharing circle, peer-to-peer learning group, or coaching session to help you work through your grief.

The more you pay attention to what scares you, the less power it will hold.

You heal from suffering after experiencing it fully.

Expect and Embrace Change

Loving someone changes you forever.

Losing them is just as impactful.

After someone close dies, you will be different from how you were before the event. While you’ll work towards healing, it will leave a permanent scar that marks both the love you shared and the loss you experienced.

Your self-identity, personal identity, and self-perceptions will change as you reestablish a sense of who you are.

Making peace with your loss and gathering the mental strength to carry on may require that you make space for something new to unfold and be a willing participant in the experience.

The space between your former self and new identity will be filled with many unknowns and can be very uncomfortable if you’re accustomed to having everything secure.

Taking time to reflect and connecting with family and friends or your therapist can give you helpful insight into where you are headed.

Athletes serve in a high-performing domain where they are expected to strive, be brave, and overcome – no matter what.

However, when dealing with loss, your natural response may be to retreat, pause and reflect so that you can recover. It is okay to take time off if you feel it’s necessary.

Next week’s article will be about how to stay mentally tough while you grieve.

If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out to a mental health provider or me.

I can be reached anytime at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *