This isn’t really something people talk about, but I think it has pertinence in a lot of people’s lives and whether we like it or not, as much as we talk about leaving our personal issues off of the mat, it does effect our training and our time at the gym.
Grief can be caused by a variety of situations- it’s the sorrow of losing someone, either (usually) through death, or sometimes emotionally through say a divorce or break up after a long relationship. Anyway, anyone who knows me is well aware that I hate talking about personal things (in general- it’s not you, it’s me, I promise), but I’ve had experience with both kinds since I’ve started in jiu jitsu. Well, I haven’t divorced anyone- two outta three ain’t bad, right? Anyway, the recent loss of a family member prompted this topic.
It’s interesting because we talk about what to do and how to cope with physical injuries- a dislocated joint, a torn ligament. Sometimes we do talk about how emotions effect our jiu jitsu, but more in the light of how to deal with the dejection of defeat: rarely do we talk about managing the very real and painful loss of someone close to us, and how to come back from that.
Obviously your experience may vary, but personally I have felt a bit of an internal struggle. Physically I’m fine- everything is in more or less working order, no different than it was the day before. Emotionally however the entire landscape has changed:again it could vary depending on what stage of grief you’re in and a variety of other factors, but let’s say for the sake of argument you’re in a place where it feels like that part of your brain that says, “hey, come on, let’s do this thing!” has decided to take a nap and/or has been wrapped burrito-style in a big, wet, heavy blanket.
The ultimate thing is that it’s ok to be sad: it’s ok to acknowledge these feelings. Bottling them up, ignoring them at best won’t make them go away, and at worst will end up creating a bigger problem than just dealing with them in the first place.
It’s also ok to take some time off of the mat: I would say just let your instructor know what’s going on. If you suddenly disappear that’s cause for concern, but I feel at this point everyone knows what it feels like to lose a loved one, and if you let your coach know what’s going on they should give you the space and time that you need. And if they don’t, it may be time to re-evaluate what kind of gym you are spending your time in.
When you feel like it’s time to get back to training, don’t just throw yourself into training just as hard as you were before. Again, experiences may vary but grief really isn’t something you can turn on and off like a faucet: it’s more of a thunderstorm that rolls in, and eventually out. Give yourself time to work back into the routine of things and most of all be patient with yourself: sometimes emotions can take a lot out of you, make you more tired than you may realize. Treat it like coming back from an illness such as a cold or flu- take it one step at a time before you go full speed ahead.
And finally understand that many people, including your teammates, have gone through the same thing. If you feel comfortable enough, talk to some of them- jiu jitsu is a community, and your teammates I’m sure do care. Or at the very least will be a little more understanding if mid-training you suddenly curl up into a ball and start crying out of nowhere.
How have you dealt with grief and training in the past? Let me know- otherwise, have a great day everyone.