I put my head down and swept as hard and as fast as I could. I knew the rock was light. My eyes were half closed and I swept that rock until it stopped. And probably for another couple of seconds until I actually realized it had come to a stop. But it stopped short of where it needed to be for us to win that all-important semi-final game at the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
My head dropped in shock. I shook hands with all of the opposition members (or at least I assume I did because being in shock I don’t actually remember).
I stepped over the backboards while the other team celebrated their win over us, the defending champions.
I saw the TV camera coming toward me. I took a deep breath and walked away to grab my stuff and get to the locker room as fast as I could before the tears started to flow.
I immediately went back and forth through the first few stages of grief as I walked backstage. Shock, denial and anger.
Now you might say, grief, really? Come on! But it’s true.
Grieving is not only a process you go through when you lose someone important in your life. It is a process you go through when you lose anything important to you, or when something doesn’t go as planned or something changes. Even if it is a positive change, you might find yourself going through the stages of grief. Sometimes you move through it in a matter of seconds and sometimes it can take months or even years. And that is more than okay in any situation.
I learned years ago that this is a normal, acceptable and really important process in many aspects of life, even in sport. It is an important emotional process to go through which ultimately for us, allows us to learn for the future.
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And so here I am days later and I am still grieving. Thoughts go through my mind like, “I can’t believe it,” or “if only…,” and “what if…” statements or “what meaning is there for us in losing?” Everything happens for a reason, but we don’t know the answer to that yet.
All I can do right now is continue to cycle through the stages of shock, denial, anger, sadness, bargaining and ultimately I will move into acceptance and our lessons.
You might also say, “come on, Jill, have some better perspective. It’s just a game.” But you know what? It is a game, but it is my job and my passion. I am lucky I get to come home to a great husband and the best, most fun-loving kid and that does make it better because they are the most important, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have valuable feelings to experience and lessons to be learned from this.
And this is not to devalue any grieving that people do over death or anything else. I am simply pointing out that these emotions are okay and acceptable for anyone in any situation.
We bounced back the next day to win the bronze medal game against our fellow Manitobans. And yes, we are proud of that given how difficult a game that is to play and given that it maintains our streak of being on the podium every time we’ve been to the Scotties.
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Team Canada poses for a selfie on the podium at the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts where they won bronze. Jill Officer
Team Canada poses for a selfie on the podium at the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts where they won bronze.
But when we went there to defend our title and win gold again, it is tough to take.
So I will continue to process and move through all these emotions, this grieving process, but I will continue to be grateful for the life that I have both in and outside of curling.