Thomas Robinson is taking a leave of absence from playing basketball for the University of Kansas after his mother Lisa Robinson, suddenly died at age 43. (The cause of her death to be released next month resulting from an autopsy.) Robinson recently lost two grandparents as well.
The mature sophomore forward is going back to his native Washington, D.C. to care for his nine-year-old sister, Jayla, the last surviving member of Robinson's family.
Reading about Robinson, and his admirable concern for his sister, struck a chord in my own life. I remember in 1996 also trying to deal with the sudden lost of my sister, a family friend, and my mother-in-law, who I adored, all within the first two months of the year. I was grown then, but it also brought back memories of my father being stabbed to death by a stranger when I was in college.
No one can tell you how long to grieve. Grief is an individual journey. However, I can testify that in all my sudden losses, what helped me tremendously was being able to run five miles a day, and play basketball while I was still grieving.
Exercise not only reduces stress, but it helps to improve your mood to be able to cope during tragedy. The difficulties and setbacks one experiences dealing with the after math of death is overwhelming. However, exercise helps you to get through those tough times , and feel hope in the middle of darkness.
There is no doubt, when death occurs in your life, you feel depressed. One Duke University study indicated that, for mild and moderate depression, regular moderate exercise was even more effective than taking medication. According to the study, exercise helps for both short term and long-term results against depression.
It was no wonder that Robinson returned to the court two days after burying his mom. He found comfort playing basketball against Kansas State. Robinson scored 17 points with nine rebounds, leading No. 3 Kansas to a 90-66 victory over Kansas State.
When Robinson returned to practice before the game he said, "It feels amazing because I have not been playing basketball for a whole week, and that is unheard of to be sitting around for four days and not play," Robinson said. "I was so anxious to get back on the court, whether it is practice or the game. I just could not wait to be back in Allen Fieldhouse again."
Hang in there Thomas. We're rooting for you!