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Waking to World Series Withdrawal

Cubs fans may feel emptiness after elation ebbs

Now that the Chicago Cubs finally have won the World Series, fans may feel at a loss over where to turn their energy and attention now.

By Charles Jolie 
Updated Nov. 6, 2016

After 108 years, a 103-58 regular season record, dispatching with the Giants and the Dodgers, falling behind the Indians three games to one, staging a comeback for the ages to tie the seventh game, blowing a three-run lead in the eighth, waiting through a rain delay to go into extra innings, scoring two runs in the top of the 10th and holding the never-say-die Indians to one in the bottom of the inning, the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series for the first time since 1908 to the relief and joy of millions of fans around the world, most of whom seemed to be at Grant Park on Friday for the team's championship celebration.

Now that the team’s long-awaited championship finally has been won, the long-suffering fans may feel at a loss over where to turn their time, energy and attention. After all, how many times can you watch Ben Zobrist hit his series-winning double?

Fans often may feel an emotional void, indecisiveness, even anger, at the end of a sports season – particularly one as historic as the 2016 Cubs’ year. That empty feeling is a healthy reminder that sudden change can pose emotional challenges. 

“A very abrupt loss of something important to us — something that organizes our days — leaves a very real hole. An emotional pillar is gone,” says Robert Shulman, MD, a psychiatrist at Rush University Medical Center. “That loss component can manifest itself into feeling irritable, especially tired or being overwhelmed by the feeling of just not knowing what to do.”

Organizing one’s life around the Cubs, or any sport s team, may not be healthy. However, understanding that the sudden changes in our routines have consequences is helpful. Knowing that there may be an “emotional hole” immediately after something important is removed from their daily routine allows people to find other activities to fill the void.

'Transitions are stressful'

“Transitions are stressful. Think of computer programmers working on a large project. They invest themselves personally, not just professionally, for months, and when the project is complete, they can feel lost,” Shulman says.

Another example is a parent who spends months planning the details of child’s wedding. While the bride and groom are enjoying the first days of their honeymoon, that parent may feel depressed.

Shulman points out that feeling down or indecisive after the loss of something important to us should not be confused with the grief that follows when someone close to us dies. Feeling a little lost after a sudden change is normal and short term, but should not be equated with the natural, healthy and often lengthy grieving process that guides people past the death of a loved one.

For sports fans feeling lost without a big game to watch, Shulman points out that the Chicago Blackhawks are in first place. As for the Bulls…let’s watch Zobrist’s double again.