As the world mourns the loss of the great Kobe Bryant, we must also think of his wife and three girls he left behind. How will they cope? I don’t know Kobe, but from what I’ve read, he was an unusually devoted dad. So good that he was flying his daughter to a basketball tournament. When we see photos of him with his daughters, the expressions on their faces tell the whole story: they adored their dad.
I hurt for his three girls because they no longer have the giant in their lives—the one who would show them what being loved by a man looks and feels like. He won’t be there to take them to basketball games, father-daughter dances or greet their boyfriends on a first date. He was a dad who loved and protected his daughters. Anyone who messed with one of his girls would pay a hefty price because she was, after all, the daughter of a legend and a very ominous looking dad.
I’ve worked with a number of girls who have lost their fathers, and I have a sense of what Kobe’s daughters will go through in the next ten years. They will experience tremendous grief but no more so than any other daughter. To them, Kobe wasn’t a famous legend, he was just dad. Over the next years, they will feel tremendous pain. They may cry and scream or swallow their grief and keep on with life. Friends will hover and say, “How are you doing? Are you alright?” I ask these questions to girls in my office who are grieving, but they really are rhetorical. Of course, they’re not doing well. They’re alive, but not feeling right in any sense of the word. But we ask these questions because we don’t know what else to do. Loved ones and friends will want to take their pain, but unfortunately, they can’t.
The next couple of years will be filled with intense pain. They have lost the man they were closest to, the father who would show them how to excel, the giant who would shower his love on them and teach them how to live a good life. They will lose his comfort and huge arms that held them when they were sad. The loss of their father in the present is hard but they have lost their futures with him. Even though they are young, they know this. Years are lost. And this will take years to get over.