Death of Kobe Bryant and the emotions facing those who are left

The world this week mourns the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant.

What makes this a double tragedy is the fact that his daughter Gianna also lost her life, along with seven other people when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed.

As I listened to the story unfold my thoughts were directed straight to the family and how they will now be suffering, for most, they will feel sadness from a distance, but for any of you who have suffered the loss of a very close loved one, the epicentre of a tragedy such as this one, is hell.

I lost my wife, Elena Baltacha-Severino, tennis star, to cancer in 2014, she was the love of my life, and was only 30 when she passed, so I have a very deep understanding of what Kobe's family will now be going through, my personal experience means I feel very close to the emotions that will be surrounding the family at this time.

Unfortunately, their emotional suffering will be deep and relentless, and as many around the world lament the loss of a man who they see a basketball god. The reality for the family, is the loss of a loved one, husband, father, son, brother. The future for his wife, Vanessa, father, Joe, sister, Sharia, mother, Pam, and daughter, Natalia, will be one of heartache and sorrow.

As I have said, I have suffered loss as the Bryant's, and yes, the world has arguably lost one of history's best ever basketball players, but I know, as Kobe's family will now experience, there are many health issues that surround a life experience such as this, physical, mental and emotional.

Unfortunately, I know that there will be thousands of readers of this column, who will know exactly what I am talking about, and when you bring this event down to the core of human emotions, we are dealing with the aftermath, Kobe has gone, but the pain of those who are left will need to be endured for many years to come!

For the family who are left, it will be a second by second life of emotional pain, pain that will unfortunately have terrible consequences, emotional, mental and even physical negative reactions.

The ripple of a life experience such as the death of a loved one is simply not just an experience that one walks away from, the pain and heartache follows you around constantly, it's a pain that you can not run away from, you can't hide from, and you can't ignore, it sits within you like a burning fire, a fire of pain that does not relinquish quickly, in fact, it stays within you, raging, consuming and affecting the mind in a very terrible way.

When this fire of pain starts to diminish, it never fully burns out, it leaves little embers, in your heart and soul, that will stay for a life time!

The health concerns for those who suffer grief, is very real indeed, and manifests itself in many ways, chronic stress, emotional issues such as depression, feelings of anger, anxiety, bitterness, sadness.

It affects many other areas in a negative way also, issues sleeping, and a loss of appetite.

Studies have shown that grieving after the loss of a loved one can weaken the immune system, can create heart problems, you are far more likely to suffer from a heart attack after losing a loved one, alcohol and substance abuse, studies show that sons and daughters who had lost a mother or father were two and a half times more likely to turn to alcohol and drugs to bury the emotional and mental suffering.

Kobe's death is heart breaking, but I hope that it highlights an area that normally is ignored during the outpouring of grief and sorrow, and this is the health danger to those who are left behind, which seems to fade very quickly into the background.

Death is a fact of life, and one we need to live with, but it is real, and needs to be faced, as I started to study the life of Kobe Bryant, it appears that he was going through a period of deep reflection in his life where he was addressing the subject of death.

Kobe acknowledged the fact that death does not only affect you when you lose someone, the fear of death can also cause problems for many young children, and this was the area that Kobe was looking to make a positive impact on, as I read his plans, I do not only lament for his family, but also for the many thousands of children who have now lost this incredible support of a basketball legend!

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