I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried over the University of Kentucky’s basketball loss to Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Final Four. In Kentucky, basketball is in our blood. It doesn’t matter if you never attended or graduated from the University of Kentucky, this is the state’s team. (Sorry University of Louisville) The fans feel they know the players personally and everyone feels like they have a stake.
This team was on the way to a perfect undefeated season. Throughout the season there had been close calls, overtime games, last minutes shots and some easy blow out wins. As the team entered the NCAA tournament and made it to the Final Four, fans were expecting to make it to the championship game.
Thus, on Saturday night, as the game was in the final seconds and Wisconsin hit a three and fouls couldn’t help Kentucky get the ball back, I knew this season was over. The tears came before the game was over. I couldn’t even look at the screen.
I know I wasn’t the only fan in Central Kentucky crying. James hugged me as I cried. The final seconds of the game ticked off and then he went upstairs. As I began to turn the lights and tv off I found myself crying again. The tears came easily and felt good to be released.
It was then that I acknowledged to myself that these tears were for more than a basketball game.
Over the past few weeks, memories of my Mom and Nanny have been constant. There have been many grief triggers that I have only occasionally mentioned or even acknowledged to myself.
- My Nanny loved Kentucky basketball and often taped the games to watch again (if it was a good game). With the passing of each win in the tournament, James and I would state how excited she would be and it made me miss checking in on her after a game.
- With the approaching Easter Holiday, I found myself craving my Mom’s Deviled eggs. She would always make them for family dinners and it was always hard to not eat them all. Sadly, I never wrote down her recipe (she always did it by memory and taste).
- It was also difficult for me making plans to spend the day with James’ family on Easter. Yes, I am grateful that I have them but nonetheless it seemed to highlight the absence of my own.
- During this time two years ago, my Nanny was diagnosed with her own cancer and I’m well aware of the dates and events that were going on.
- During this time three years ago we were hopeful and beginning our IVF cycle that was at first successful.
- As much as I love Spring, it’s also the season of family events such as Easter, Derby Day (hey, it’s Kentucky) Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Memorial Day. I’ve simply been missing what I used to have.
Although I am aware that over the course of two years I have coped with many life changes and transitions, I continue to criticize myself at times.
I struggle with the thoughts that the rest of the world has forgotten what I have gone through: a miscarriage, two deaths, leaving a long term job, beginning a new job and attempting to follow my dreams. I struggle with the thoughts that others think that I am no longer grieving and feel that it is no longer appropriate to share my thoughts and feelings with anyone who isn’t a close intimate friend.
Thus when my basketball team lost, it was appropriate to cry but the initial tears opened the dam to others that I had not allowed out.
The grief counselor in me knows two years is not that long of a time and that grief triggers can occur at any time. There are certain times of the year which are to be expected to be more difficult. It saddens me that even I struggle with the expectations of what society feels is appropriate with grief.
Grieving individuals often feel they can not share their emotions with others whether it be immediately after a death or two years later. Our society prefers that we not share our pain and “get back to normal”. My hope is that by sharing my own struggle with my own normal grief emotions; others will become more comfortable with their own grief.
We will grieve for those that we have lost for the rest of our lives. This is the price that we pay for the love we have been shown and given. However, with healing and healthy coping, we are able to create a new normal.
Grief triggers are to be expected regardless of the amount of time it has been since a death. At times they are to be expected such as holidays and others are a surprise such as song on the radio, a smell or a simple memory from nowhere.
Grief Sneaks up on you when you least expect it – and then you find yourself crying over a basketball game.