Vanessa Bryant Says She Knows What She's Feeling Is 'Normal'

Kobe Bryant poses with his family after both his #8 and #24 Los Angeles Lakers jerseys are retired at Staples Center on December 18, 2017 in Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant poses with his family after both his #8 and #24 Los Angeles Lakers jerseys are retired at Staples Center on December 18, 2017 in Los Angeles.
Photo: by Harry How (Getty Images)

It’s the kind of grief that comes without an expiration date, but Vanessa Bryant knows that what she’s feeling is “normal.”

Two weeks after the tragic death of husband Kobe and daughter Gianna in a helicopter accident that claimed the lives of seven others, Bryant shared that acceptance has been the most difficult, even as she admitted that she’s “been reluctant to put my feelings into words.”

In a heartfelt Instagram message, accompanied by a video clip of the 13-year-old and her teammates on a basketball court as NBA great Kobe cheerfully plays coach, Bryant writes:

My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone. I can’t process both at the same time. It’s like I’m trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me. It feels wrong. Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn’t being able to have that opportunity?!

I’m so mad. She had so much life to live. Then I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters. Mad I’m not with Kobe and Gigi but thankful I’m here with Natalia, Bianka and Capri. I know what I’m feeling is normal. It’s part of the grieving process.


As she wrestles with unimaginable loss—“God I wish they were here and this nightmare would be over,” Bryant lamented—the 37-year-old also took the time to offer prayer and words of support for those who may be dealing with tragedies of their own, adding, “I just wanted to share in case there’s anyone out there that’s experienced a loss like this.”

A public memorial, hosted by the city of Los Angeles, is planned for Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center on February 24. The date has special meaning as the fallen Laker wore No. 24, while his daughter, known affectionately as GiGi and a rising hoops star in her own right, donned No. 2.

Editor & Writer. Carefree Black Girl doing carefree black girl things. Child of Zora, Toni, Sonia.

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My eyes are welling up with tears because her experience is bringing up some painful memories I thought I’d moved past. I don’t know how she’s even able to get out of bed, let alone address the public.

Our family experienced a similar tragedy when my sister died suddenly. It shattered the family. And just about destroyed my Dad. Vanessa is right. You can kinda process being a widow. But how do you process or accept loosing your child? My Dad couldn’t accept it because as he said “the order of life doesn’t have the parent bury their children. It’s supposed to be me in there, not my baby girl!”. Despite the fact that he had four other kids who needed him, he contemplated suicide. Fortunately he was able to find a moment of clarity, and emptied the house of all his guns. He tried therapy also. But that didn’t help much. Everywhere he went, he was reminded of her. Living in a small city, he had to drive past her house and job. Or the park they hung out at. I guess one day the grief got so bad that he just packed up all of his clothes, hopped in the car, moved 1500 miles away, never coming back. That was 15 years ago.

I don’t know if anyone else here ever lost a child. But my dad said the worst part was he kept forgetting she was actually dead. When something funny happened on TV or on the news, he would constantly find himself picking up the phone to call her to talk about it. And even on occasion he’d reach for his car keys to visit her. Stopping after it suddenly hits him again, “Oh, I can’t see her. She’s not here anymore”. He said every time that happened, it almost felt like she had died all over again, and again, and again. After happening one too many times, that was when he realized he had to move away.

I just hope Vanessa and kids get the mental help that they’re definitely going to need. And support from extended family and friends.