How to support a player with a bereavement
Bereavement is something everyone will face at some time in their life. It affects everyone in different ways. Is someone in your team experiencing grief or loss? Let’s understand more about how you can support your players.
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What is bereavement?
Bereavement is the experience of losing someone or something important to us. This could be a family member, friend or a pet. You may also hear bereavement described as grief. Grief is a range of emotions we go through as we adjust to the loss. You can find more information on bereavement and grief and how it can affect people, at Mind.
Bereavement is something everyone will face at some time in their life. It affects everyone in different ways. We often find talking about death and loss difficult. It can be hard to know what to say or how to support someone recently bereaved. But your support can mean a lot to the person feeling negative emotions. Supporting your players through loss is important for their mental and emotional wellbeing as grief can affect their game and quality of life.
Here are some tips for supporting your players who are grieving:
Acknowledge the loss, and don't avoid contact
Feeling worried about saying the wrong thing to someone who's experienced loss isn't unusual. But avoiding a grieving person can make them feel more alone or sad. Reach out to the bereaved person and ask them if they want to talk. Let them know you'll listen when they're ready.
Ask them how they'd like you to stay in contact
Grief can affect people differently, and people may want to communicate in different ways. Please don't assume you know how a bereaved person feels or how they want to communicate with you. Ask them what they prefer: a text message, phone call, or you dropping by to see them face-to-face.
Give them space
People experiencing grief may need time alone or with the people they choose to support them. Understand that some people don't want to share their grief with everyone, so respect their privacy. Give them time, and just let them know there's no pressure on them to respond to your messages or calls, and that you're there if they want to talk.
Be flexible and patient
Think about training schedules and commitments. Grief can affect a player's focus and energy. Your players may need time to return to their regular schedules and commitments. Be patient with them.
Encourage team support
Encourage your players to look out for each other. They'll check in with each other, especially during difficult times such as after a death or loss.
Talk to players about looking after their mental health as well as their physical health. Discuss self-care like getting enough sleep, nutrition, and exercise. This will all help with grief.
Make seeking help a norm
Challenge any stigma surrounding mental health support and encourage players to talk to each other, ask for help, and seek professional help if needed. Signpost to support services such as their GP or charities like Mind or Cruse. They offer specialist grief and bereavement support.
Supporting your players through grief takes empathy, patience, and a commitment to their emotional wellbeing, both on and off the field. But in creating a safe space where people can talk about their feelings, football can be a positive environment that helps players through their grief.