You asked for my hustle, I gave you my heart.Kobe Bryant
Desensitization to traumatic events is a real concern.
Today’s world is so much smaller than it used to be because of our access to the internet. At minimum, anyone with a phone can reach thousands (or millions) of people at any given moment. So, it’s no wonder that when tragedy hits, we now look to the internet for info, comfort, and relief.
In this way, technology has proven to be both helpful and harmful. In times of tragedy, information can be conveyed quickly and with urgency. The right folks are warned, informed, and called into action.
Conversely, people can be so thirsty for breaking a story that the wrong information can be given to the masses. Or it can be insensitively conveyed and cause unnecessary anxiety and worry.
It was an everyday kind of sunday.
This past Sunday, when news of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death broke, I was in full on “Sunday Funday” mode. I had just come home from grocery shopping and was finishing a walk with my pup. We were chillin in the living room watching Netflix while I waited for a laundry load to finish drying when I decided to hop on social media.
While scrolling through my FB feed I began to see a few scattered posts about Kobe. Nothing explicitly saying there was an accident, just his name and expressions of disbelief. I figured it had something to do with Lebron passing his record the evening before. I had actually missed that game so I decided it was as a good a time as any to Google it.
When I typed in Kobe Bryant and saw the crash reports I was in disbelief. surely this was fake news. or a misinformed story.
But it was true… And another legend of my time was taken from us.
There was no “Kobe and I”
At age 41, I still considered Kobe to be young.
We often forget how young stars truly are because so much of their life is spent in the spotlight. We’ve sometimes seen them essentially grow up right before our eyes… not realizing that even still, they have so much more life to live.
our life has been so saturated with theirs, that we neglect to recognize their growth doesn’t begin and end in the limelight.
I grew up loving basketball. I was never really much of a player, but I enjoyed watching it and I could follow play very easily. no other sport captured my undivided attention as it could. From jump ball to final buzzer I’d watch game after game without complaint. December 25th was one of my favorite days because the Christmas day games would be on and I’d be on vacation from school. I could lounge in my bed all day eating great holiday food and watching hours of the best players play.
I’ve never had a team, per se, I much rather follow my favorite players. I was a big A.I. fan and I also enjoyed Vince Carter and (curveball..) Dirk Nowitzki. But I was not a fan of Kobe.
however, one thing you could never deny, fan or not, is the man’s drive towards excellence. And his respect for the game. Watching Kobe play was like watching art. He was committed to his craft and it was so damn beautiful to watch.
So, when news of kobe passing in such an unexpected way, it was crushing. I was in total disbelief and it just didn’t seem real. And I couldn’t quite understand why his death was evoking such a significant reaction for me. It’s true, I’ve seen many famous deaths that hit me hard.
and (of course) Stan Lee… I think that one hit the hardest.
But there was something about the death of Bryant (and his beautifully young daughter) that still has me feeling uneasy. Not sure if it’s because I know there was so much more I thought he had left to do, or that he was taken from his wife and young girls so unexpectantly.
And sure, it feels strange having such strong emotions for someone I didn’t know, but I now realize that’s perfectly natural. Trauma can affect someone directly and indirectly. In fact, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) can be caused by simply learning about an event. It can especially be problematic when that event could seemingly have happened much closer to home.
what’s more relatable than the unexpected death of a loved one?
Kobe taught me that I shouldn’t want to be the next “so and so” I should strive to be the first me. He taught me how meaningful work ethic is and the power of passion. In his openness of work life balance, I learned that I didn’t have to sacrifice my career dreams for family dreams, or vice versa. I can have healthy balances of both.
But most importantly, Kobe Bryant taught me about success. How to personally define it and work like hell to achieve it, no matter how many times you fall. And that’s why my heart is heavy.
Coping with the Loss
First of all… Protect your peace. Do this by giving yourself permission to feel all the feels. cry, laugh, be angry, and be silent…whatever soothes your soul.
And then, create boundaries.
yes, the information is out there and media outlets are saturated with stories, pictures, and video coverage of the tragedy, but you don’t have to expose yourself to it all. You have a right to limit yourself. You have the right to say when enough is enough.
For example, I personally couldn’t watch video of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe and eight other passengers. It was too graphic and too “real” for me so I simply didn’t watch it or expose myself to stories that included it.
Also, take it personally. As I said before, some people may call it strange, feeling a loss for those we don’t personally know. They may even feel that the grieving person is attention-seeking or insensitive to the people who are “really” grieving. well, that’s just not always true. Sure there are some who capitalize on traumatic events, but I’m here to tell you that if you feel the loss of a celebrity that you don’t personally know, that’s perfectly fine.
Why? Well because their art/work has helped us some time in our life. Whether it be helping us get through a difficult time or even just showing us that our dreams could be possible. In essence, people are able to enter your life without ever being physically there. By living their public life they’ve taught you valuable lessons. And similarly, these stars may remind you of the people who are actually in your life (such as family and loved ones) and have been influential.
Lastly, try to be mindful of what triggers your grief in ways that make it too much to manage. if videos with memories help you process the tragedy, then allow them. However, if they make the feelings you have more unbearable, then don’t expose yourself.
likewise, be mindful and respectful of how others are working through the grieving process. what we sometimes seem to [understandably] forget is that people process loss differently. So if your process triggers someone else and they either tell you or choose to not engage with you during their time, just respect it. much like your process is personal for you and requires no other person’s input, as is there’s and equally doesn’t require yours.
With the growing ability for news to spread widely and deeply, be mindful of your mental health. Protect your peace. and process in a way that is both healthy and needed for you (but also respectful of others).
no one should be able to tell any other person who they should grieve for or how.
Sending you Love and Light through difficult times.