Watching the A's the past few games has triggered some intense feelings in me. Perhaps it's the last several seasons of high expectations that came crashing down with the reality of the mediocrity on the field. Maybe it's pinning my hopes on the preseason prognosticators picking the A's to be the dark horse to win it all. Whatever the case may be, I find that I am grappling with these very real emotions, and I sought help. I found the below, and I wanted to share it with others, in case there are those of you out there, like me, find yourself dealing with the very real emotions of grief.
The breakup of a marriage or long-term relationship, or realization that your team may not be as good as hoped, can trigger similar responses in a person. Each person mourns a loss differently. However, there are 5 common stages of grief a person goes through when mourning the loss of a relationship, or a game, or an entire series. These were adapted from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, 'On Death and Dying', with a forward by Bob Geren, manager of the Oakland Athletics.
You may not experience these stages in one fluid order. You may go through some of the stages more than once. Sometimes an event will trigger you to experience one of these stages again. For instance, cleaning out the basement and finding an old jersey of your long ago traded favorite player, or hearing the bullpen coughed up another lead. The five stages of grief are:
1. Denial – The "No, not me" stage.
This stage is filled with disbelief and denial. For example, if your team makes more errors than runs and you still expect them to win, or thinking that Rich Harden will pitch in consecutive games.
2.Anger/Resentment – The "Why me?" stage.
Anger at the situation, your favorite player and others is common. You are angry with the player or team for causing the situation and for causing you pain. You might feel anger at your team for losing, or the player for sucking. You may feel anger at that player for booting easy ground balls or choking in pivotal situations.
3. Bargaining – The "If I do this, you'll do that" stage.
You try to negotiate to change the situation. If your team is collectively batting .202, you might bargain with God, "I'll be a better person if you'd just help Suzuki hit .300". Or you might approach your team who is considering moving to San Jose and say "If you'll stay I'll change".
4. Depression- The "It's really happened" stage.
You realize the situation isn't going to change. The death, break-up or losing happened and there is nothing to bring the other person, or the game, back. Acknowledgement of the situation often brings depression. This could be a quiet, withdrawn time as you soak in the situation, or consume mass quantities of cheap liquor in the parking lot of the coliseum.
5. Acceptance – The "This is what happened" stage.
Though you haven't forgotten what happened you are able to begin to move forward.
Suggestions when you find yourself suddenly faced with the reality that your team is not as good as hoped:
-Avoid long term legal decisions. If you are in an emotional state its better to put off long term legal decisions until your thinking is less cloudy.
-Drive carefully. It's easy to become distracted when you are grieving so use care when you get behind the wheel. (NOW they tell me)
-Seek support for your kids and yourself. Your kids are grieving along with you and will need support. It might be wise at this point to have separate grief sessions apart from your children if you're experiencing anger and resentment. Contact the Oakland A's Grief Relief Resource Office.
-Maintain rituals. The children most likely will feel insecure and abandoned at first. Maintaining the same patterns of holidays, birthdays, Saturday outings, tailgates, etc. will give them a sense of normalcy and consistency.
-Nurture yourself. You need to care for your spiritual, emotional and physical health. No one else will do it but you. Take care of yourself as well as you take care of your child. Eat bacon, exercise and take vitamins. Allow yourself to grieve and give yourself as much time as you need to adjust to what has happened.
A word to my friends out there who may be experiencing these emotions: There is hope. Come down off the ledge. Jumping from the Value Deck will not help the bullpen hold a lead, or bring Jack Cust back. Remember, tomorrow is a new day, and no matter what you are going through, it's nothing a 20 game winning streak can't cure.
There's lots of baseball to play!