Tragedy and Trauma

The basketball world learned of the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant. It was my first time seeing coaches, commentators and players openly weeping.


Reactions around the league are full of shock and disbelief. It just can’t happen.


We mourn this together.


Clips of games that were played today felt like an NBA wake. Tears, hugs, and tributes. We pray for the repose of Kobe’s soul and for the Holy Spirit to comfort his wife and family.


Mamba Forever


I listened to sports radio on my way home and it felt like group therapy. We all felt the same loss and were feeling it together.


As we grieve both of these tragedies together, there are general principles that we can discuss that relate to the general idea of grief and loss. Not everything will relate to this particular situation but hopefully, some principles are helpful.


We can be vulnerable and honest with how we actually feel


Sometimes when we face loss, of any kind, we may feel like we need to “push through” or “just be strong” and not allow ourselves to be honest with our own emotional state. It’s important to face the feeling honestly. There is no definite time for grief or loss. We don’t need to cover it up.


Acknowledge what you feel.


Understand that grief is unique


No matter the loss, we all deal with things differently. We can’t expect to react the way anyone else does because the process is simply different for each of us.


Understand that you may be impacted: These changes may occur

  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Hard time making decisions
  • Confusion
  • Distortion of time
  • Too many thoughts at once
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Feeling the world is not safe
  • Intrusive Images
  • Flashback
  • Fatigue/Poor Sleep
  • Eating/Appetite Problems
  • Stomach Pain
  • Sweating, rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness, Hypervigilant
  • Headaches
  • Back or neck pain
  • Relational
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Clinging to others
  • Alienation from friends/coworkers
  • Break in trust
  • Irritability



3 Ps to avoid (from Option B)

Permanence-This will not last forever

Sometimes in the midst of a tragedy, it can feel like there is no way forward from here. But there is. This feeling will not last forever.

Personalization- blaming ourselves

When there is loss, sometimes we can personalize that loss and blame ourselves. In Kobe’s case, if someone could have been on the helicopter but was not, they may experience survivor’s guilt. Why did I survive and Kobe didn’t?

Pervasiveness- this covers all areas of my life

This is a feeling that this loss will be applied or show up in other areas of my life. We may begin to lose hope or feel that other things in our lives have lost meaning or significance.

Look for post-traumatic growth

There is an opportunity in tragedy to find growth in our pain. Trauma may cause post-traumatic stress or post-traumatic growth. The difference is often in the direction and support after a tragic event.

Lastly- speak with someone

There is a thin line between grief and depression. Speak with loved ones but also know that speaking with a professional can be a very helpful way to get through a grief process.






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