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Tiger Woods To Face A Tough Challenge- How To Teach Young Athletes To Recover From A Loss

Posted by: Dr. Granat on May 6, 2006

One of my patients is a young golfer who is hoping to get an athletic scholarship to


a prestigious university. Like Tiger Woods and his dad, this young man is very

close with his father. His father taught him golf and they play a golf together

almost every weekend. They both feel they are each other’s best friend.

During a recent session, he asked me what I would tell Tiger Woods to help

recover from the loss of his dad. Obviously, my patient identified with Tiger’s

loss, was frightened by it and wanted a little guidance from me.

Over the years, I have counseled many people who have lost loved ones and there

are a number of things I talk with them about to help them heal and overcome

their sadness.

First, it is normal to be sad, angry and hurt. In fact, these feelings should remind

you of how special the person was to you and how much you loved and enjoyed them.

Second, in a way, Tiger was lucky because he and his dad had a chance to say

their farewells to one another over time, since they knew they he was quite ill. In some

ways, a sudden and shocking death can be harder to recover from than one that is

imminent. My step father, who was a gem, died very suddenly and it took my family

and me a long time to recover from the loss of this wonderful person.

Third, when you lose a loved one, it is important to connect with the people who love

love you and can support. Spend a lot of time with your good friends, family and loved


Some people find comfort in prayer and religion because they provide tools for

reminiscing about the person you have lost and vehicles for saying good bye

and for honoring those who have died.

Also, a death, for me, is a reminder to enjoy life now.

If Tiger Woods were my patient, I would remind him that time heals most

wounds and that it will take some time to get over this loss and adjust to life

without him. It is a time to embrace his relationships with his mother and his


There is also a little tale that I tell patients who are experiencing a loss.

I told this story to my patient. Perhaps it would be helpful to Tiger Woods

and maybe it will be helpful to people reading this column who are

trying to recover from their own loss or disappointment.

You know when you were a little boy or a little girl, you probably fell down

while running or while riding your bicycle. And most likely, you bruised your

knee or your elbow. And your arm or your leg probably bled. It may have

bled a lot.

Then your mom, dad or a neighbor came along and gave you a hug and

comforted you. They washed out the wound and applied an antiseptic

that stung a bit. When it was placed on your wound, you may have felt

like you were going to have to feel a little worse before you could feel

better. Then your caretaker applied a band aid that was just the right size.

This helped you to feel less pain, safer and more secure.

The wound may have felt worse for the next day and even a few more days or

weeks. You probably had to change the band aid every day or so. And you

may have had to wash the injured area often.

But in time, the wound began to heal, even though you may have

scratched at it times, like most kids do.

But after some more time, a scab formed, all the bleeding stopped and the

old skin was replaced with some new skin.

After a little more time, the pain subsided almost completely. You still

had some good days and some bad days with your wound.

Now the pain from some wounds may not ever go away completely.

But, sometimes healing, eighty or ninety percent is sufficient for us to carry on

and feel generally okay.

As you can see, the mind heals from emotional losses and wounds in

much the same way that it heals from certain physical injuries.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist and Licensed Marriage And Family

Counselor in Bergen County, NJ. He can be reached at For
more information, visit

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