Just as Oprah loves bread, I love the Olympics (and bread). The spectacle, camaraderie, the majesty of sport, the underdog stories, the dedication, the cultural appropriation, the tense geopolitical interactions (looking at you Pence), the scandals, the Tony Harding, I LOVE IT ALL!
The 1988 Jamaican Bobsled team had me feeling ire mon! In 1994, after figuring out where the hell “Lillehammer” was, I was all I, WONDERing if I, Tonya really knew about the hit on Princess Kerrigan. #teamtonya
The 1998 Nagano Olympics were giving me all the feels when Tara Lipinski, won not one but two gold medals (one for skating, and one for her awesome bangs) at the young age of 15. I was only 13 at the time, but figured if I started that day with 6 hours of practice and an intense daily hair spray regimen, I too could totes be ready for the next Olympics.
I have mad love for the summer games as well. The 1996 Magnificent Seven gymnastics team were a symbol of all that’s American and great in the ’90s. Then the Fab Five in 2012 and the Final Five in 2016 carried the torch for a new generation…you know, except for that whole ensuing Larry Nassar drama. Dr. Nassar falls into the aforementioned “scandals” category, and I did say I loved it all. Anyhoo, in 2008, I legit broke my toe watching the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing as the Chinese drummers got me so grooving I banged into my coffee table. I was in tape and hobbling for a week #truestory.
So needless to say I am a superfan! Bryan was too; it was one of the many things we bonded over. In fact, I was still okay with dating him even after I found out former Tonya Harding bodyguard and Kerrigan attack plotter, Shawn Eckardt, changed his name TO Brian Griffith!! I mean we figured the “Brian” was spelled different so it was cool. Plus, #teamtonya.
However, these days, I find myself focusing on a different kind of Olympics, the ones defined as the “Grief Olympics”. There’s many articles on this phenomenon, and the general sense is there is no Grief Olympics, that’s everyone’s experiences are different, and whatever the worst pain someone has experiences, that’s his or her worst pain and it’s all relative. While I understand that, I’m still not cool with people comparing my grief to the grief they feel when losing a pet (which has happened), or when a guy ghosts them. Because guess what? My husband pulled the ultimate ghosting act. There’s no one there for me to drunk text angrily after a few bottles of rosé and a few hours of Celine Dion karaoke.
Don’t get me wrong, I do have more empathy for everyone’s experiences. I think my main goal in writing this is that those who are lucky enough to have not experienced great loss, should be okay with that as their truth and not try to rush in and compare their own experiences to mine or someone else experiencing great loss when talking.
As a PSA to all those trying to help someone else grieving: it’s OKAY to not be able to relate and it’s OKAY to say that. Just listen if you’ve got nothing truly on that level to add.
I speak on this from experience. I’ve medaled in various events in the Grief Olympics including mass shooting survival, grandparent death, father death, close family members diagnosed with chronic and terminal illnesses, and of course spousal death. Now the thing about these olympics is there is no gold, silver, or bronze. Just like the millennials at their little league games; we all get the same medals for participating. So while I’m racking these up and grieving more than many, I also remind myself that I’m lucky in a lot of ways, and not grieving nearly as bad as others out there. I guess that’s the shitty things about these olympics; the parade of nations never ends, and there’s always an athlete with more medals than you.