There are times in life where we will lose a person we love, and life after that can be hard no matter what the circumstances. But when that person is connected with something you love, like playing golf, getting back to it may feel more like a painful reminder rather than the joyous event that it used to be.
Though it may be a good idea to set the clubs aside for a while, chances are getting back to the course will ultimately help you feel more connected to your loved one while creating positive experiences for you as you heal.
Here are some ways to get back to the course after facing a personal loss.
Take your time
There’s no need to rush. Feel your feelings and process the profound loss you’ve experienced. It’s important to give yourself space to feel what comes up and not rush back into life as usual, otherwise you simply postpone dealing with the loss and your feelings can show up in unexpected, and less-than-ideal, ways.
When we’re feeling sad and down, it’s normal to want to stay put, but getting outside and connecting with nature can be a nice place to begin healing, or to distract yourself in a healthy way. You don’t need to head to the course yet, just head outside. Fresh air, movement, and feeding your soul through nature all help with the healing process.
Connect with other loved ones
Chances are, you’re not the only one feeling this loss, so stay in touch with others so that you can support each other, recall positive moments, and further process the loss you’re going through. Connection is a basic human need and sadness can make us retract so staying connected with others is important on the path to healing.
Imagine yourself playing golf
Close your eyes and imagine yourself on the course, but know that this may be emotionally challenging. Perhaps your loved one joins you in your imagination; that can feel like a lot to handle, but the idea here is to see yourself playing again, which can move you toward getting back out there and feeling good despite any sadness or other emotions. Start with just a few moments and build up over time. When you’re feeling more comfortable imagining yourself playing golf, you may be ready to head back to the course.
Drive over to the course
Hit some balls at the range, just have lunch, or simply walk around, depending on how you feel and where you are in your process of healing. It’s okay to shed tears as you whack balls. In fact, it might be therapeutic. Depending on your beliefs, you may want to talk to your loved one while you’re there, especially if this is a place you felt connected while they were alive. Starting small with your return to golf is a good way to desensitize yourself a bit and learn to handle the emotions that may emerge.
Try nine holes (or less)
When you’re up for it, head out for a short round. It’s up to you if you golf alone or with others but if you’re part of a group, set the stage ahead of time that this could be an emotional outing for you. If you need a break, or feel you can’t continue, that’s okay. There’s no urgent timeline here, but playing a bit of golf allows you to experience important thoughts and feelings that come up in the grief process, and even though it may be hard, you give yourself an opportunity to work through these.
Let yourself feel your feelings
Working through loss is a process and not a linear one. You may handle your first round “well” and then break down when you get home, or you may have been on an emotional roller coaster for nine holes. Whatever your experience, feel the feelings. Trying to skip over the emotions, ignoring them, or downplay them typically only causes you more struggle down the road. Experiencing the emotions will help the negative ones hurt less and the positive ones to shine through even more.
Get back out there
As you continue to heal (and remember, there’s no timeline), continue to add golf back into your life gradually if need be. You may want to continue to talk with your loved one while you’re out there, bring a memento with you so that they’re too, or simply aim to enjoy the game that you used to with them. Golf is something you enjoy, so it’s important to get back to a place of enjoyment with the game that means so much to you; your loved one would want to see you happy.
No matter how you approach getting back onto the course, in time, you will find joy in the game again. It may take more time than you’d like, and you will likely have ups and downs with your emotions, but golf will be there for you when you’re ready.