The short answer is yes. The tragic death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter has left the world in shock. A lot of people are mourning him since yesterday and if you are one of them, I want you to know that you are not out of your mind, you are just experiencing what is called, the loss of a “parasocial relationship”.
Below are some of the reasons why this phenomenon takes place:
- We don’t know them, but we know them. It’s safe to say that most of us will never have the chance to met our heroes in person. However, because we spend a lot of time following their journey and their struggles and they are often a regular part of our lives (we see them in the shows and movies that uplift us, in the sports we love, creating the music that speaks to our soul…) we feel a genuine connection to them.
- They will never do or create anything new. Even though they leave a legacy behind them, the truth is that we will never get to see their future creations. And that’s a loss.
- It represents losing part of your past or youth. Maybe you used to go and see the Lakers with your dad and siblings every Sunday when you were a teenager. Kobe not only represents basketball – he was also a part of your family traditions.
- It’s a reality check about how short life can be. This one is extremely hard because we tend to think of them as immortal Gods. But the truth is that they are humans like you and me, and they are not immune to sickness, attacks, or the effects of gravity. But when someone who had the best doctors, the best pilots, the best life and all the money in the world dies, it makes us realize just how vulnerable we all are.
So if you are experiencing this type of grief, just know:
- You are not delusional – focus on the meaning that person brought to your life and decide how you want to honor that.
- This loss might trigger emotions related to other losses you suffer in your life. If you had lost your dad, maybe the loss of Kobe hits you harder because it reminds you of your own loss.
- You have permission to take the time and space to mourn that person however you want. You might want to build an altar with all the merchandise you have from him/her, go to a fan event and share that grief with other fans…anything that will help you. Or reach out to someone who will listen!
We want to send our prayers to Kobe’s family and all other victims of the helicopter crash.