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Words That Heal (Especially After That Big Loss Last Night)

     If you stayed up late last night to experience the end of the big College National Championship game, you saw a nail biter and a fantastic finish.  For those of us who didn't have a team in the fight, it was pure entertainment.  But for the Georgia students who fought in that battle and lost, it was a bitter pill to swallow.  They likely woke up this morning feeling like they were having a hangover.  
     Any sports fanatic will tell you that a loss to the team is also a loss for them personally.  They feel similar (not necessarily the same) pain as the players even though they haven't stepped a foot out, in or on the field, court, track or pool.  It stings pretty badly.  Even though Alabama won this time, they know all too well what it feels like since they experienced the same defeat last year against Clemson.
     So how do you get  past the pain?  What can you say to assuage those melancholy feelings that stick around for the next few days and even months?  These questions can be posed about any situation where loss has occurred--not just sports.  Whether it's the loss of a job, the loss of a relationship, the delivery of some type of bad news, those emotional lows make it hard to face the next day effectively.  Regardless of the type of loss, try these three things:
  1. Acknowledge the pain with the individual.  In other words, be empathetic.  You can say something like, "I know you're struggling right now because no matter how you look at it, losing sucks!" I think Cam Newton said it best when he said, "Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser."
  2. Be sympathetic.  Though you may not have caused the loss the person is experiencing, let them know you're sorry for what they're going through.  And say just that, "I'm sorry you're having to deal with this.  I wish I could do more to help."
  3. Give them a big hug (with their permission, of course).  Experiencing a loss produces a feeling of loneliness even if there are a million people around.  Because people experience loss differently, some people may feel like no one understands how deeply they are affected.  When words fail us or even if you were able to express both empathy and sympathy, our nonverbal language also makes the difference.  Letting a person know you fully support them through this trial can be comforting.  The biggest comfort is encircling that person in your arms and saying, "I got you."
We got you Bulldogs!

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