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The Memorial That Shouldn't Be

Unsplash | Fred Kearney
By Robert Safir

The helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other passengers, produced a shock wave heard around the world. Sure, celebrities in sports, movies, television, and other categories have occurred and have been difficult to handle. But in the case of Kobe, it still feels unreal to many people. Why is it that it is so difficult to wrap our heads around this tragic event? And will this feeling subside with time - or is it here to stay?

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Gettyimages | David McNew

Grief is an intense and complicated process. No matter who it is that has passed, there will be many unexpected emotions that come into play. Shock, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance, are the main ones. What adds to the intensity may be the sudden shock of someone who was so vibrant, so alive, so present - and then, nothing. Gone. Vanished from the earth. We ask ourselves, how is this possible? Consider the emotions that Vanessa Bryant must be experiencing, with the additional burden of losing her daughter, Gianna.

Gettyimages | Aaron J. Thornton

The grief is also amplified by the number of victims that day, including Mamba Academy coach Christina Mauser; player Payton Chester and her mother, Sarah Chester; player Alyssa Altobelli and her parents, John and Keri Altobelli; and Ara Zobayan, the pilot. Even if the cause of the accident eventually comes out, it is no consolation to them or to us for that matter. It's too big to fit into your brain. So ask yourself, are you more accepting of this tragedy today than you were on January 26, 2020?

Gettyimages | ROBYN BECK

It's no wonder there have been so many tributes to these people since that day, not just at Staples Center, but all around the world. The number of videos - made by professionals as well as fans - is staggering and still growing. His contribution to the game of basketball is legendary, but there's more to the grief everyone feels than just sports. It's Kobe, the man. And many people who knew him - or did not know him - have a sense of how great a human being he was. That's why the upcoming memorial on February 24, 2020, a memorial we wish did not have to happen, is perhaps the best way to honor the Bryants and to soothe our own souls.

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