My 10-year-old niece, Marisa, plays soccer in a girl's league that takes place in Boca Raton, Fla. Her team advanced into the playoffs, but was eliminated following a loss on Saturday in sudden-death overtime. Marisa was the goalie who allowed the winning score to pass through the net. I don't need to tell you that she broke down in tears and was heartbroken following the game. I felt really bad for her and her teammates.
After the game, I was encouraged by family and friends to cheer Marisa up and give her an uplifting talk, but I truly don't know how to act or what to say to someone after a game ends like that one did. The first thing that came to mind is that my niece needed to experience a loss like that, remember how bad it felt, and then use it as motivation to improve and never let it happen again.
But, there's nothing that can be said in the short term to make someone feel better about a loss outside of allowing time to pass. I remember when I was a little kid, I can recall with vivid detail the losses that stung a little bit more than others. I can say that there wasn't anything anyone could say or do that would cheer me up or make me feel better. Being consoled just made me angrier and it always seemed so contrived and annoyingly condescending. It would typically take a day or two for me to recover and it was something I had to always work out on my own accord and timeframe.
I'm curious to hear how others would have responded in a situation like that.