- Updated: 27 January 2020
… and in my other job, hospice chaplain and grief counselor, I see a lot of death. Mostly the expected death of a loved one on hospice. As you might expect, every death is unique and every family member will grieve in their own way. But yesterday, as the news of Kobe Bryant’s tragic and unexpected death became known, a societal grief was observed.
The term “legend” is quite appropriate when you consider this young man’s accomplishments in the NBA and in the international market of sports. But, as a society processes the loss, there is a much smaller group of people experiencing a profound and complicated grief… his wife and surviving children. I pray that they will receive help that is timely and effective.
While I have never been a big fan of the basketball legend, I am keenly aware of the positive influence that has grown from his prolific career as an LA Laker, and thus aware of a local and global grief that is being experienced by many. So, how should I handle this loss? I suggest these three means:
Humanly. This was a death of a fellow human being… he had family and friends and fans. His loss will be felt by many and, it should be acknowledged as a shared loss. While I never met, knew or even liked the superstar athlete, I share in his humanity and recognize the profound loss of so many who had met, knew and loved him.
Compassionately. To have compassion is to share in the suffering. While society grieves and the news covers how he will be memorialized, it will be right to share others suffering. Listen to how fans choose to remember their hero and give affirmation to their grief. A shared grief is better than a reasoned answer. Grief is emotional, not logical.
Respectfully. Whenever I officiate at a funeral and there is a time of sharing, I always instruct mourners to share encouraging memories and stories. Unpacking unfinished business, grievances or any number of negative thoughts is not helpful to family, friends or, in this case, a huge number of fans. Have respect for the bereaved.
I pray that these means of dealing with loss will be helpful to you… in this or any other loss you experience.
For His glory,