Sports psychologist explains an Olympic athlete’s feelings of grief

May 23, 2024, 1:06 PM | Updated: Jun 6, 2024, 3:30 pm

Therapist talks about mental health for athletes in the olympics...

The Olympic rings and cauldron from the 2002 Winter Games are pictured at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Less than 75 days until the Summer Olympics begin in Paris and one of the most important aspects of training revolves around the athlete’s mental health.

Anxiety and stress may be felt before the Olympic Games, but sports psychologist, Dr. Natasha Trujillo says an athlete’s feelings of grief are common when the games end.

“A lot of people only assume that you can grieve if there is some sort of death loss and that is simply not the case and for an Olympic athlete the end of the Olympics,” said Trujillo.

Facing feelings of grief

“At the end of the Olympics, there’s really only one winner. There’s one person… or one team that gets that top spot. So, when you think about grief, everyone else that participates suffers a loss,” Trujillo said.

She explained that athletes work for years to get to that level and when they miss their goal, they suffer a big loss.

According to Trujillo, the best way for athletes to heal from grief is to be patient and talk openly about what they are feeling.

“The only way to handle grief is to be with it, and go through it and sit with it, which is really really hard for athletes because they’re productive.”

It’s important, said Trujillo, to remember that these athletes are human.

“Olympic athletes are people too and the rest of their lives don’t stop because the Olympics is happening. So, each athlete is a little bit different but they all have a baseline mental health to begin with. So they’re not going to be immune to things that the rest of us aren’t going to be immune to as well.”

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Sports psychologist explains an Olympic athlete’s feelings of grief