This past Sunday I was taking my daughter to practice driving. We were driving down the main road here in town and my wife and I were texting (my daughter was driving) and she sent me a text, "Did you hear Kobe Bryant died this morning in a helicopter crash?"

At first, I thought maybe she fell victim to an internet hoax. As a side note, what does it say about our society that we actually live in a world where we have to consider the possibility that someone may have purposely started a fake story just to see if it would go viral?

image from en.wikipedia.orgUpon checking the news, I realized it wasn't a hoax. It felt like a kick to the gut.  A man I never knew, never met, never even saw play in person and it took my breath away.

I am a firm believer that if we're going to make sports players our heroes, they should be second tier heroes. Elevating someone simply because they can put a ball through a hoop or use a piece of wood to send a leather ball over a fence seems inherently tricky to me.

But, there is something transcendent about sports. Something that many connect with on a visceral level.

The responses were interesting as always to me, when a celebrity passes away. There is always someone willing to tell someone else why they shouldn't be grieving the passing of a celebrity.

That seems beyond silly to me, it seems downright unhealthy.

Because in grieving someone we never met, we are afforded the opportunity to remember those we have met and lost. We are given the opportunity to grapple with our own mortality.

We all only get so many trips around the sun (thank you, Kenny Chesney) and we don't know when the last trip has started or ended until it's done.

Someone once wrote that if we number our days we will have a heart of wisdom.

Even as I type these words, I feel a level of sadness for Kobe and his daughter. For his family. Maybe you don't.  I think that's probably OK too. I'm not sure it's healthy if you're telling other people that they shouldn't be mourning.

And for the many, many people that do, that's OK too. In fact, it's an opportunity.

It's an opportunity to examine our own life. I once read that it is better to go to a house of mourning than to a party. I couldn't understand what I was reading at the time. As I have aged, I think I understand it better. Mourning the loss of someone else helps us to all realize that death is coming for us all.

We will all die.

What we do between that day and this day is completely up to us. 

It's an opportunity to reconcile broken relationships. The idea of reconciliation is something that many people give up on. I hope that changes. We can attempt to reconcile, of course it takes two people and maybe the other person isn't ready or willing but at moments like this. Moments where in all of the business, and chaos of every day life, we are given the chance to stop, pause and reflect are a great time to consider what broken relationships we might be able to mend.

It's an opportunity to cultivate gratefulness. Take the time to remind your loved ones that you love them and that you are thankful for their presence in your life. You might not get another chance. Take stock of your life and express gratitude for all that is in it. This might be starting a gratitude journal or writing someone note. Whatever it is, do it.

We know that gratitude does many wonderful things for our brain and actually improves our quality of life.

It's an opportunity to feel like you have to be happy all of the time. I often tell clients that they need to develop an ability to experience and sit in "dark" emotions. Those feelings and emotions that are not happy and excited are also part of the human experience and are necessary for a healthy life. Give yourself to sit in them. Give yourself time to just live with them.

For reasons that I can't quite explain I feel a sense of loss with Kobe's passing. I feel grief for all of the lives lost that day and for the family members left behind with the devastating pain trying to make sense of it all. I hope that I will take this feeling of a sense of loss and grief to examine my own life and grow.

May we all.


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