Mummy, Why is Pup Crying?

blogger-image-1263162750.jpgFor today's post I'm not really writing wearing my 'widow' hat, but my 'mother of young boy' hat.  But I probably wouldn't have the same perspective on this situation if I were not widowed.

This past week a young Australian sportsman, a cricketer, was injured on the field and passed away from a rare brain injury caused by the impact of the ball. Phil Hughes passed away surrounded by family and team-mates from both state level teams and the national team.  Team mates who'd kept an almost constant vigil for two days, supporting the family and each other.

It's an incredibly sad loss, and one that's left the country, and cricket players and aficionados around the world, grieving.  Not just because of his age, but the cause of death and that it was due to a freak accident in a sport with a relatively low risk of significant injury.  Muscle injuries and broken hands are common, but it's not a sport you expect anyone to suffer a catastrophic injury while playing.

Because of this young man's national and international sporting profile, there's been 24 hour news cycle wall-to-wall coverage.  As such, I watched the press conference presented by the national administrators and captain that was held a few hours after his death was announced publically.

And as the mother of a young boy, in a national culture where tears and vulnerability are not really allowed to be expressed by men, and especially not by national sporting heroes, I have great respect for the men who presented the conference, and others from different levels of the game who've given press conferences or have provided press coverage and analysis.

Aside from the hospital's representative who presented the clinical circumstances, all who spoke knew this young man, and all showed their grief - tears, halting speech, reflective pauses.

The national captain, whoever that currently is, is a hero to countless kids across the country.  Kids want to emulate their cricketing heroes and grow up dreaming of wearing the baggy green cap that is the hallmark of the national team uniform for the most traditional form of the game.

The current captain Michael Clarke, whose nickname is 'Pup', has allowed his grief at the loss of a close friend and team mate to be front and centre with his engagements with the press. He's not hiding tears. He didn't put on a brave face and pushed through press conferences; when he reached his emotional capacity to sit in front of the cameras, he got up and left the room, putting himself in a (hopefully) safe place to grieve privately.

He's a man who is grieving and he's not hiding it.

And as a mother to a young boy, I'm glad he (and other male role models) are openly grieving and allowing the kids who look up to him see them sad.  Crying.  Showing and sharing their emotions and feelings from their loss publicly.

John was too young to remember the emotions and how grief was displayed when Ian died, and is probably too young still to realise what's happening now.  

But for parents of kids who are old enough and who look up to cricketers, they now have a powerful role model to point their children to when they face a loss - a parent, a grand parent, a pet, a friend.  Pup's given those kids (and adults) social permission to show your sadness; displayed that showing your grief is not a sign of weakness. 

I hope positives come from this freak accident, including a shift in culture. Freedom for men, teens and young boys to show their grief and not be bullied or belittled for it.  


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