Peter J. Economou, Ph.D.
January 27th 2020
How can you feel loss from someone you never met? I think the west coast, much of the United States, and people around the world are experiencing that today. The sudden and tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and 7 other human beings has rocked the planet. While people connected with sport are more likely to feel this, especially those in the basketball worlds, there is a common experience in the suffering created by loss. This emptiness that leaves us wondering when our mortality will come knocking, or when someone we love so dearly will no longer be a phone call away. Rather, those people enter an unknown.
Death is one of the most mysterious human experiences. I have lost several grandparents and aunts and uncles, a close friend and former college teammate, animals… and it is never easy. Each loss is unique and fosters new reflection on what the meaning of this life is. What is left for me to achieve, does achieving even matter, who do I want to tell I love them, which grudge will I let go… Kobe is arguably one of the most talented and successful athletes. So he could not die at 41-years-old. His 13-year-old daughter couldn’t also die so young. And all the other parents and children on that helicopter; they too couldn’t leave this earth in that blink of an eye.
None of us are free from entering that unknown and mysterious space of death. Today, live as though you are not guaranteed tomorrow. As the night gatha in Buddhism teaches us, “this night your days are diminished by one, do not squander your life.” May you find some peace today, and please allow space for the sadness and reduce your attention to social media. Grieving is an individual experience so allow your mind, body and spirit to experience this life, in this moment, today.