Kobe's Death and Our Grief
Kobe Bryant died on January 26, 2020, in a tragic helicopter crash, he was 41 years old. To add insult to injury, it was later learned that his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and six other passengers were also riding the helicopter when it went down. Kobe Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa and three surviving daughters. To Kobe’s family and the families of the fateful passengers (John Altobelli, Kerri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Ara Zobayan, and Christina Mauser) we render our deepest condolences.
Millions of people immediately felt the loss of Kobe Bryant, indeed many of which are basketball fans; still, millions more were not. His life and death could not be bound inside the 94 feet by 50 feet rectangle. How is it the case that so many feel his loss like a family member?
To put it bluntly, for the past 20 years, he represented the physical epitome of the best of us…greatness. On the court, his work effort and desire to win were unparalleled. Off the court, his love for his family and positive impact business interests vastly overshadow any unflattering headlines, whether self-inflicted or otherwise.
NBA Career Achievements:
5 NBA Titles * 18 NBA All-Star Teams * 9 Time NBA All-Defensive First Team
NBA Dunk Champion * LA Lakers All-Time Leading Scorer * 24 50-point games
$650M 20-year Career Earnings * 33,643 career points, # 3 all time
Scored 60 pts in final NBA game * 19 triple-doubles * Academy Award Winner (Short Film)
Why We Grieve for Kobe Like Family and the Stages of Grief
Over the last some 20 years while we spent time with our family and friends at home, work, over meals, during good times and bad, we discussed this man regarding his personal and professional life. Those memories and associated emotions came rushing back to the front of our consciousness when we were made aware of his passing, surprisingly so for many. Nevertheless, this is the case, now we must deal with, and those emotions…the grief. It is instrumental at this time to understand the stages of grief. Grief is defined as deep sorrow, especially in the aftermath of a friend or family member’s death. There are stages of grief; five commonly recognized stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
Denial. Your conscious mind essentially puts the brakes on the emotional processing of the tragic event which caused the grief. In the similar the soldier on the battlefield experiences a numbing shock-wave following the close explosion of a grenade, your mind seeks to protect you by dampening heightened emotional triggers to buy processing time.
Anger. Often the second emotion you feel is anger and the many questions that said “anger” bolsters. Who can I blame for this tragedy?, Why don’t people understand what I am going through?, and How could this happen? are typical questions to ask oneself. Only too often be left with feeling that it is not fair. When you are angry, it lets you know that as painful as it may be, you have surpassed Stage 1.
Bargaining. It is natural in dealing with the loss of a loved one to try and cut a deal with others and a higher power to make the pain stop. In this stage, there is nothing you won’t do to make the pain go away. Ominous statements are made like, “God, if you make the pain go away, I will be a better person. It is at this stage that we feel our frailty and helplessness.
Depression. In this stage, it becomes clear that bargaining did not make the pain go away, and the reality of the situation becomes heavier than ever. Additionally, you may feel a profound sadness and want to perhaps cut off friends and family, with socializing being the last thing on your mind.
Acceptance. In Stage 5, you don’t understand everything, but you no longer resist the reality of the situation and the process in which you find yourself. In this stage, the tragedy of the situation hurts a little less, and you are able to function a bit more. May we all when dealing with the passing of a loved one find ourselves at this stage as expeditiously as possible.
Dr. Timothy Crable, PhD., M.B.A., is co-owner of Fruition Counseling and Consulting Services, LLC. Fruition CCS, LLC is a veteran owned teletherapy private practice focused on the mental and behavioral health of individuals, families, adolescents, and organizations spanning 5 states. Additionally, he is a a retired U.S. Navy Chief with 25 years of experience taking personnel and programs to success. He spends much of his time operating as a motivational speaker, policy researcher, college professor, business consultant, ethics and equal opportunity corporate trainer.