• Amber Boyd, LMFT

The Layered Experiences of Grief

Grief...such a complicated concept. It is dealing with the loss of something or someone, but it does not speak to the pain and how it shows up and out when it comes. It comes in waves, in thoughts, in routines, in feelings, and in the different areas of our lives that we don’t expect.

Lately, there has been a lot of loss, including one of a famous LEGEND (in his own right), Kobe Bean Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant (13) and 7 others who have families that are missing them right now. It was like the air was popped out of a balloon, like someone that I knew personally. It brought up so many things:

  1. Feelings of watching Kobe play as a kid (when I wasn’t that into basketball yet) and being amazed by his skill.

  2. I was touched by how he showed up for his daughters but on this particular day, he was planning to go coach at his camp, where his daughter and two other players who were in the helicopter, ultimately lost their lives.

  3. The relationship that I have with my father and how the hashtag #GirlDad makes me think of him (as he has all girls as well). I was as emotional that day as I was when we watched Armageddon together (which I refuse to watch now because I am a bucket of tears).

As a basketball fan, we lost who is one of the greatest players of our time, but the idea of a family losing some of the most important people to them: a husband, a father, a sister, a daughter, and there were others in that helicopter, who are mourning and ranging within one or more of the stages of grief. There are several stages of grief:

  1. Shock & Denial

  2. Pain & Guilt

  3. Anger & Bargaining

  4. Depression, Reflection & Loneliness

  5. The Upward Turn

  6. Reconstruction & Working Through

  7. Acceptance & Hope

I have many thoughts about how this not only goes for folx who have been passed on, been violently stripped from us, or could be living but the relationship is not present and even this list is not exhaustive.

If we were to think about the relationship that Kobe’s oldest daughter had with him, vs. the youngest, it is a different type of grief but grief nonetheless. It’s a loss that is painful and unimaginable for two young ladies at this time in their lives.

Grief Has More Than One Face

I started thinking more about loss, how it is so incredibly layered. That we can lose a person but another thing that we do not discuss is the loss of things that we may or may not get back: mobility, strength, access to our senses, relationships (both romantic and platonic), etc.

We don’t give these experiences the same level of care because some of these things can be expected, like getting older and not being able to do the same things that you were able to in the past. But the idea that they are out of the blue and how difficult it can be to adjust to the new normal is something that has its own layer of painful.

For example, I think about folx who were once able to drive is completely dependent on another person for whatever it is that they need, can create a cycle between the different stages of grief.

I think about those who have relatives, who may be living (or not) and the idea of not having a relationship due to some circumstances that you may or may not be able to control. It is a loss that does not always have the words to describe other than a longing and desire to be close but limited ways to satiate that desire.

Some Ideas to Address Grief:

  1. Therapy: Therapy can be used as a tool to manage and express the range of emotions that takes place when grief is present.

  2. Groups: Grief and loss groups can provide a space to discuss this longing or desire to be close with others who may be dealing with similar things.

  3. Honoring: Finding ways to honor those who have passed or the things that we may have lost that has impacted our lives.

  4. Journal/Write a Letter: By externalizing the experience to be outside of oneself, one can speak to that person or that thing by putting in a place other than just their mind.

  5. Give yourself some kindness: As a society, we have a habit of asking people to get over things quickly. Be kind to yourself when you don’t feel that you have “successfully” grieved.

Thank you for taking the time to explore my thoughts and if you are looking for some additional resources, I have some listed on my website:



IG: @HealingThroughAuthenticity


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