The initial shock of a loss can freeze time. It’s like everything comes to a screeching halt, while your mind tries to comprehend what you just heard. Your brain is searching to find the time and space between reality and what feels unreal.
My initial response to hearing of the tragic helicopter crash killing Kobe Bryant, his 13-year old daughter Gianna, and 7 other individuals, was this must be fake news. I’m sure many others were in utter disbelief. Wanting to push the information away. We often want to avoid tragedy because it’s painful and sometimes confusing. We may be filled with frustration, rage and irritation.
Tragic loss can increase our anxiety and impair our perception. We may struggle to wrap our minds around what we have just heard and seek to find meaning in what feels like a meaningless event. We may become hypervigilant and overprotective of our loved ones. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. We may want to isolate and get away from everything and everybody. We may have moments when we settle in our new normal, but oftentimes its short lived. Especially in the early seasons.
Sometimes the death of a celebrity can trigger a personal loss. Once your grief becomes activated that pain can feel all too familiar. You may find yourself reflecting on and replaying past events connected to the loss of a loved one. Especially if you didn’t have the adequate time, space, and resources to grieve. You could find yourself in an inconsolable state experiencing all of those suppressed emotions with a vengeance.
It’s important to highlight that grief is not linear, so your experiences cannot be categorized in a sequential manner. The feelings you experience when grieving can show up in any order at any given time. You can sometimes find yourself feeling everything at once. There is no set order to how you may experience grief.
On my recent interview on The Rickey Smiley Morning Show (RSMS), I answered a few questions pertaining to the loss of Kobe Bryant. I will share them below.
Why is this hitting me so hard I didn’t even know him personally?
I think it’s important to recognize that we don’t just grieve people we know we grieve individuals we experience. So those who feel the weight of this loss can more than likely remember an experience associated with Kobe. Whether it was watching him play, pictures of him interacting with his family, being motivated by his drive and pursuit of excellence. We had an experience with him and that experience is connected to our personal stories. This may also be hitting us hard because we can empathize with what it might be like to lose a child, to lose a parent at a young age, to lose a spouse, or to lose a close friend.
I also think it’s important to highlight when we experience the loss of a celebrity it is magnified; a large number of people are impacted because the bigger the influence, the bigger the loss. The loss of a celebrity also magnifies the reality that no one is superhuman. We all are fragile, vulnerable, and the loss of an icon solidifies the fact the we will all eventually die.
Why is self-care vital during times like this?
When we are grieving, we get so wrapped up in our grief that we can disconnect from reality. It can feel like a dream or better yet a nightmare. Sometimes we forget to check in with ourselves and connect with others. One thing as a Therapist that we look for is our client’s ability to attend to their basic needs. Are you taking care of your basic needs like resting, showering, eating? This can be difficult because when we experience a personal loss our daily routines are so intertwined with the memories of our loved ones. The simplest things can serve as a painful reminder that they are no longer physically with us. That’s why caring for yourself is so important because when these simple things start to decline typically your mental health and physical health is soon to follow.
How can I mourn the loss of someone I didn’t know?
Mourning the loss of someone you didn’t know is in some ways similar to mourning the loss of someone you did know. Granted we cannot compare our grief to those who were closest to Kobe, Gianna, and the other passengers, and we shouldn’t. It is important to recognize how we are feeling. Allowing ourselves to feel whatever we are feeling. Giving ourselves space to be whatever we are and feel whatever we feel. I think is very important that we don’t minimize the grief of others. And furthermore, we need to stop telling folks who are grieving to “be strong.” If you have endured a loss you are already strong, Crying, showing true emotions, and showing your vulnerability doesn’t invalidate that strength.
How will I know when it’s time to seek help?
I think everyone and anyone can benefit from a relationship with a Therapist. In cases like a celebrity death it’s important to pay attention to how long your sadness lasts, how intense your feelings surrounding this topic linger, and how frequently you’re thinking about this loss. Overtime your symptoms should gradually decrease. If they don’t there may be some underlying issues that you could benefit from speaking with a professional about.
If you’re having a hard time navigating life after loss, I’m here to help! Feel free to call my office and schedule your free consultation today.