Jets Great Season! Ending with a Loss
So how do you assist an athlete to integrate the experience of training and competing for almost 7 months, making your conference championship, beating all the odds and naysayers predictions but losing one step before the world championship game? The solution is understanding that we are mentally and emotionally complicated and that grief and exhilaration or euphoria and dejection can coexist. The mistake often made by well intentioned consoling efforts, when a crestfallen athlete’s terrific accomplishments fall short of the ultimate goal, is the attempt at cheering up or encouraging to look at the “bright side”. Unfortunately, this attempt to change the athlete’s dejected and saddened emotional state can actually create more misery. The athlete is aware they worked hard, practiced well and achieved much. Regardless, they are stung by the failure to reach a striven for goal. There is a necessary period of mourning-like sadness which must take a natural process over time to dissipate. Truely helpful responses resonate with the athlete’s disappointment, possible regrets, self-questioning, and even possible guilt feelings. The reaction of the athlete does not have to make logical sense or seem reasonable given the tremendous accomplishment ending in defeat or failure to attain the goal. Empathy for and validation of the athletes tragic loss must be cleary expressed. Nothing feels so right to the athlete then when they are joined in an emotional connection at a time of agonizing failure. Remember, truly being with a person as they suffer, and not trying to make them change, can be the greatest gift of caring and kindness.