Teeming With Grief: Sports Teams’ Need for Resources and Support During Bereavement

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology
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  • 1 California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA, USA
  • | 2 The University of Wisconsin—Green Bay, Green Bay, WI, USA
  • | 3 West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA
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Although there is awareness of the impact of grief on survivors’ well-being, almost no research exists on the impact of death on sports team bereavement. The present study surveyed 40 members of athletic teams (coaches, staff, and athletes) from various levels to determine what happens in the aftermath of a team member’s death. Findings of the survey indicated that many of the respondents experienced acute grief responses affecting performance, which memorialization and community support was helpful whereas the news media was often not. In addition, a need for appropriate resources and a school bereavement policy specific to student athletes was seen. In line with the dual process model, the responses indicated use of both emotion focused and restoration focused coping. Implications of the findings suggested that addressing bereavement needs for athletes, and their coaches was tantamount to mitigating some of the complications associated with disenfranchised grief.

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