Other than the poor play calling there is a big reason why our players are having such a hard time with mental errors both on offense and defense. It is called grief and … compound grief. We have not taken into account the tremendous affect that death has taken on our team this year.
It started with the tragic death of their teammates this Summer. Young kids trying to deal with those deaths at a time they thought they were invincible. Suddenly football is not the most important thing in the world and you loose your edge.
No matter how they think they are back to normal they are not and will not for months to come. It affects their attention spans, their ability to make good decisions, to make decisions at all some times, and difficulty completing tasks, and it is a tremendous drain on their energy level and endurance.
Then you add the death of a mother of a young man they love and admire, Mrs. Prosch. It is like having a scab ripped off your knee, and compound grief begins, PTSD grief starts and all the emotions of those Summer deaths boils up like it just happened all over again.
When a team normally shows the most improvement between the 1st and 2nd game they come out and regress due to this second grief. Then a couple of weeks later a trainer/coach dies just before the LSU game, compounding the grief again on the team and coaches. And the next week was the funeral that some players and coaches attended, but all had to face death again and the emotions once again.
In this microwave society that expects us to get over grief in 3 days and get on with life, it does not just disappear in a few days or weeks….it takes months and months. Even when people think they are over things and back to normal months later people will testify that they didn’t know how affected they were in every aspect of their lives until they come out of the fog.
It has only been a few short months, from my observation as a professional chaplain for hospice and a hospital, I am observing all the side affects of compound grief in this football team. Slow learning new schemes, stupid penalties, making the same mistakes over and over again after being coached up over and over again, loss of edge, physically and emotionally depleted in the 4th quarter.
These kids are fighting hard and don’t give up but the side affects of this compound grief are preventing them from playing like they normally would and like we and the coaches expect them to do.
The coaches and fans are shaking their heads in disbelief, pulling their hair out. But unfortunately it is going to take a lot more time before they get it back together; maybe by the end of the year against GA and Bama. Yet, don’t count on it, and there is nothing the boys or coaches can do about it but keep plugin’ away and let time and the grief process take its course.
In hospice we visit the family regularly for a year to 18 months after a loved one dies, 3 – 4 months will hardly scratch the surface of the compound grief this team and coaches are facing, it will take time. Brother Chet is probably doing all he can, but it will take time.
As a trained professional with death and dying, when my dad died and then his brother 3 days later and then a week later when I went back to work at the hospital and experienced many deaths over a 3 day period I had had enough death for a while. I had been used to covering 10 floors and remembering every patient and visit to chart at the end of rounds, but after my compound deaths I had to write myself notes when I left each room so I could do my charting.
I had to do that for six months before I got back close to normal and I was trained how to handle grief. Can you imagine how affected out team and coaches have been. It’s the reason we are where we are…..it will take time before we get back to where we should be.
Let’s support our team and coaches because they will be back and their extraordinary difficulties will make them even better than they would have been.
We are fortunate to have Coach Chizik, a strong Christian with great Character, leading our young men at this time. All things happen for a reason. Chizik is probably here more for this time than he was here for our National Championship.
Tags: Auburn Football, auburn Tigers, deaths affect Auburn players, effect of grief on competition