Kobe Bryant

‘Work Through It, Rather Than Avoid it:’ Expert Offers Advice on Coping With Grief Over Kobe Bryant’s Death

The death of Kobe Bryant is triggering an outpouring for grief, and not just from those who knew the basketball legend personally

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To understand the immense love for Kobe Bryant, you just have to look at the growing memorial outside the staples center in Los Angeles.

“I've been watching him since he was, since I was a little girl, since 10," said Ruby Sanchez, a fan.

She cried real tears over his sudden death, despite never seeing the basketball star in person.

“There are so many celebrities that we feel connected to and when they die, it is a real loss and it’s okay to actually grieve that loss,” said Dr. Colleen Cira, a license clinical psychologist in Chicago.

Dr. Cira says the reason many who didn’t know Bryant personally are in mourning is because of empathy.

In the wake of NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s death, clinical psychologist Colleen Cira talks to NBC 5’s Lauren Petty about how to grieve when a public figure passes away.

“The ability to relate as a mother, as a wife, to what that would be like. The empathy can be really overwhelming,” Dr. Cira said.

Empathy for not just Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, and their three surviving daughters, but for the families of the other lives lost in the crash.

NBC 5’s Lauren Petty asked Dr. Cira what she recommends for people who are almost surprised at the grief that they’re feeling. Dr. Cira recommends you, “actually work through it rather than avoid it.”

She recommends reaching out to others who share your reasons for grieving, whether it is as a spouse, a parent, or even as a sports fan who lost a childhood idol.

“I think it’s really important for people to find their group who are grieving for similar reasons and to really share in that safe space,” said Dr. Cira.

And remember, children may also be impacted by this loss. Hearing that Kobe Bryant’s daughter and two of her teammates died in the crash, may trigger fear, sadness and questions about their own mortality. Dr. Cira recommends you take your cues from your child. If they bring it up to you, she advises you answers any questions succinctly, honestly and age appropriately.

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