How can I help?
Just a short while ago, I received some very disturbing and sad news. I have a pair of twins that play on our team who are 10 years old. I just received word that their mom passed away. There are no details at this point as to her cause of death. My concern now, is how can I help these boys through this difficult time? They do have a dad so I know that they at least have family to be with. However, I can only imagine what these two young boys are feeling at this point. Our team will play on even if the young boys don't return, but my concern, at this point, is for them. A couple of the hierarchy have already mentioned doing something as a possible fund raiser and I'm going to have all the kids on the team sign a card. If you've had a situation like this, I'd like to know what else you might suggest.
Tough one. Death is a tricky thing. Everyone deals with death and dying in a very unique way. The stages of grieving are consistant but the length of time that it takes to hit each one will vary. IMO, the best thing you can do is let the family know that you are available and willing to help out where ever you can.
After the intital stages, helping out with simple things like a ride to practice can be huge. If you are sincere in your offer, they will ask for help at some point.
It may help to read up of the different stages of grieving. A lot of stuff available on the net.
Good Luck. This is a process not a quick fix.
All I can say is that when I had my surgery I had several folks bring me meals.
Personally, these next few days are going to be a blur for them with not a lot of time for the little things like making meals. I would ask the team to make some frozen stuff they can whip up in the Microwave or oven in a few minutes and then bring it over to them as a team. It shows you care and that they are still part of the team even in such sad situations. Don't hang around just offer the food and tell the dad to call if he needs anything. ;D
Not MPP... ONE TASK! Teach them! 🙂
The mother of one of my players died about a week before we started pre-season practice. She had been fighting cancer for a while, so it wasn't unexpected, but difficult nonetheless - no daddy around, but a large extended family of relatives; my player and his siblings are now living with their mother's parents. A bunch of coaches (including myself) and players went to the funeral. After our first game, I gave that player a game ball signed by all the players and coaches. Other than that, we've just tried to handle everything as business as usual - providing a piece of normalcy in an otherwise very traumatic time in this boy's life.
On a side note, I think (depending on your relationship with the family), that you're better off just doing things (like the suggestion to take over food) rather than saying, "Let us know if we can help." A lot of people will never ask for help, but they'll gladly accept it if it's presented to them. In addition to food, offers to have the kids over (give the surviving spouse some alone or down time), or take them out for a bite, or stuff like that has been greatly appreciated by the families that I know who have been through similar situations.
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I havne't gone through this with any team I've coached. However, I was a cub scout leader for a year and had a kid whose dad passed away. I talked with the other boys in our group. The kids ended up making their own sympathy cards. That way, they could approach it in their own way (I proofread of course). I had someone give him these cards outside of our meeting time so that we could be as "normal" as possible when he returned to our group.
And then the bombshell came less than a month later when his mom passed away too. That was brutal. We didn't do anything as a group but I did get the service information to the parents of the boys in our group so they could what they wanted.
If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't say anything. I'd show up to whatever services they have, let them know you're there, tell them you'll see them at practice. If they return to the team, don't change anything. The distraction will be the biggest thing you can provide.
I'd like to know what else you might suggest.
Dedication game, possible fund-raiser.
"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."
The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."
I had this situation happen 2 years ago with my team.
I'm sure like many of you, we are all a big family in the team. I was just beside myself with greif for what my player was going through. The day after I sat my team down after practice and discussed what had happened. I let them know that I considered them all my sons and if they're hurting, I'm hurting...even got a little teary eyed. The boys really felt that and I was sure proud of them for their compassion for their brother.
We discussed that if/when he does come back, he might or might not be the same kid. We won't ask him any questions about what happened. If he wants to talk about it he will, and we will listen. We will treat him just as we did before, but we will understand if he were to act out with emotion.
I got word from his mom that he would return for our next game. The boys wanted to set up a play to get him a TD run (he was a guard) and we worked all week preparing one for him with our strongest RBs blocking for him. He did end up coming to the game. We all made our way to the stands to watch the first half of the previous game. The kids all put their gear down and started finding places to sit around the player. Not much was said, but you could deffinately feel the support they were giving him. Usually it's a mad house with everyone running around and being crazy. That day they just sat there in a tight group quietly watching the game. There were a couple of hugs and pats on the shoulder. That was one of my proudest moments of being a coach.
We did end up successfully running the special play. He ran off the field with his fist in the air, huge smile, and some tears. It was a pretty emotional moment. We put a new ball into the game and had everyone sign the one he scored with.
These boys are still playing together at the Midget level. They all have a really tight bond even though they all go to different schools and don't see each other much in the off-season. His mom said that the team helped him through that time tremendously.
I've been on both sides of this coin unfortunately. Kids parents (plural) died in car crash while I was coaching, and I also lost my best friend in my 10th grade year right before football season. So far I think the ideas have been great. But the answer to your question I think is simply to ask it and mean it.
How can I help? That may be all you need to say. Just remember no one really hears advice or silly crap that we come up with to try to encourage. Normally you will be turned down at first - "Thanks coach, but we are gonna get through this"... That usually means "Thanks coach, but I can't even think straight enough to know what I even need." That's when I think you let it go but only for a while and you check in again in a week or two and make it something you follow up on. The real stuff comes out many months later when everyone else's life goes on normally.
One of the moms is going to purchase a football so we can have everyone sign it. I'm also going to organize the parents to make different foods.
Believe it or not, the kids were actually at practice tonight and acted like their usual selves. The funeral is not until Saturday and because of the timing, they probably won't be playing even though they want to. More than likely, the reality of the situation hasn't set in yet.