Sunday, May 28, 2006

They would've wanted me to....

A couple of days ago, the mother of Orioles right-fielder Jay Gibbons died unexpectedly. The passing of a loved one is obviously a very sad time - especially when it is one's parent. However, what astonished me was the fact that the very next day Gibbons was in uniform, back with the team. This case was not an aberration, as we often hear of athletes' loved ones passing and the player is back with the team in a ridiculously short amount of time. Time and time again we hear the athlete say, "It is what they would've wanted" or, "he/she wouldn't have had it any other way".

Personally, I think it's ridiculous. There is a loss that is felt whenever someone near passes on. To just jump back in the regular routine the next day is side-stepping the natural course of grieving, and one that could potentially cause the person to have trouble coping with this loss later down the road. I really doubt that any of these athletes had conversations with their loved ones before they passed detailing how long they would miss from "the game". Therefore, their guess as to what they would've wanted is just that, a guess. And, on top of that, you're depriving yourself of a very important time of mourning.

Of course, in Judaism, we have a very detailed outline for this grieving process. The process lasts almost a full year with a gradual tapering of the mourning practices. This, I believe, is the healthy way to do things. To continue to mourn and remember for a lengthy period of time, while gradually moving back in to the regular rigors of a job and family.

I was happy to see that upon Larry Hughes' brother's passing a couple weeks back, he didn't pull the whole "he would've wanted me to" shtick. Hughes, a key contributor for the Cavaliers, missed 4 games of a hotly contested 2nd-round matchup against the Detroit Pistons. Hughes realized that his brother was very important to him and someone that deserved a period of remembrance and reflection. Don't tell me that coming back the next night is the what they wanted; more than probably, you're lying to us, to them, and more importantly, to themselves.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Greg said...

Does the Torah prescribe rites of mourning to non-Jews? God obviously didn't think that it was essential for the entire world to take the same approach as Jews do. Perhaps the Jewish rites of mourning represent something specific to a Jewish worldview that make them superfluous for non-Jews.

10:11 PM, May 28, 2006

 
Blogger AlanLaz said...

Interesting point, Greg. I don't claim that the Torah prescribes these rites to non-Jews. Whatever the case is, going back to work the next day is ridiculous.

10:13 PM, May 28, 2006

 
Blogger Jewboy said...

I don't know about this one. I think it's possible that when Pauol O'Neill played in the deciding game of the 1999 World Series the day after his dad died, or when Roger Clemens pitched a gem after his mom died last year, that helped them in their grieving process. We may not be able to relate to it as Orthodox Jews and we certainly would not go back to our routine the day after a relative passed away, but perhaps Greg is right that the Jewish rites of mourning are only meaningful for Jews, and non Jews deal with it in different ways.

10:21 AM, May 29, 2006

 
Blogger AlanLaz said...

I don't think there's a significant psychological difference b/w Jews and non-Jews. They still need a grieving process as well. It is plausible to say that the Jewish rites of mourning are just for Jews, but there's gotta be a middle ground b/w the full year of mourning, and nothing.

10:36 AM, May 29, 2006

 
Anonymous fromtoronto said...

alanlaz, i agree with the psychological aspect of grieving..... a family member passed away last week, and i was talking to a nonjewish co worker, .. they were extremely impressed by the jewish way of mourning... .it's just putting things into perspective...

8:54 PM, June 12, 2006

 

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