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
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 info@StayInTheZone.com. For
more information, visit StayInTheZone.com