Music has been a very consistent presence in my life. I’m not one for silence really. Cleaning the house, music in the background; in the car, music in the background. I have even been known to break out in song at work on my hospital unit. Music has been that much of an influence in my life. The exception being when my world fell silent when my grandson Konnor passed away on November 22, 2015. For three full weeks I couldn’t bear to turn on the radio for fear of what I may hear and what it would bring out of me.
Music is emotional to me. It has meaning. It can bring me out of a mood. It is in my soul.
I was on a pretty good stretch. I wasn’t riding high or on cloud nine or anything close to that but I was mellow and things were going close to what I would classify as normal. Then like a kick in the proverbial butt I was sent back into grief reality. The reality of my life where I function in automatic during the day, I pull it off just enough for everyone to think I’m doing okay. I participated in enough conversation to get me by. I get home and it’s the ultimate release. My tears are cathartic and yet the ache in my heart and my gut are ever-present. No matter how much I cry I know he will never come back.
It’s been suggested to me that I start antidepressants. “Maybe you’ll feel better,” they say. I’m sorry but this thinking bothers me. So I should medicate myself to put a smile on my face and forget that my grandson is dead? They want me to join the land of the living and be happy. “Don’t you want to be happy Patti?” Well yes, I want to be happy. But I want to do it the natural way. I want to BE happy, I don’t want medication to make me believe I am happy. Anyway, I did try the antidepressants not once, but twice and I could not tolerate it. My stomach just said NO. It’s almost as if my body had its own way of rejecting this way of so-called-mental-health-healing.
My intent is not to fix myself. Yes, I am broken, yet I cannot be repaired in any medical sense. I am not looking for a band-aid. I am moving forward with the intent of coping with my grief as it hits. It’s always the smack of reality that Konnor is gone, just in case I forgot. The days that have me gasping for breath remind me that he is gone. My mind replays that horrible day over and over again. The kind of day where anxiety leaves my heart racing all day long. Damn my mind and my heart because I can’t control it. It just hits me like a freight train and I know better than to ignore it. I just don’t know how long it’s going to last. A day, a week. I don’t fucking know.
I have my own personal measures and put them in place that ensure my grief is released in a safe manner. I feel I am continuing my grief journey in a healthy way. I’m using music as it’s companion. Those of us in grief know, most often when silent tears are shed, music let’s us feel less alone. For me, the lyrics understand me and I couldn’t have written it any better. The melody just brings me closer to feeling calmer, more relaxed and even peaceful.
Have you ever listened to a song and shared it with a friend or a lover and said, “listen to this!” “This is how I feel about you!” Music is a universal communicator. It doesn’t matter what form of music it is. Whether it’s pop, rap, or alternative. It’s about perspective. If you sing about something I can relate to with a melody that touches my soul, I am deeply touched and drawn to that music and that artist. I want to hear more.
If you’re in a good mood you want to hear songs to keep you in a good mood. When you’re down you want to listen to music that understands your feelings. Perhaps a more melancholy radio station is the choice. Frustrated? No problem, we have music to fit any mood.
What would a movie be like without music? Those beautiful scenes probably wouldn’t be half as good without the music as a backdrop. Especially the dramatic sad ones. Think about that.
So if you have lost a loved one and you’re having a bad day and you can’t hang on any longer. Go home and turn your radio on or your CD player and play the music that allows you to release the emotions you have kept inside all day. Let the music take you to where you need to be, let the lyrics say what you need to say. Grab a tissue and just let go.
Music allows me to shed the tears I need to release and yet not feel as though I am alone when I do. As explained by Victor Hugo, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
Photo credit: Eric Nopanen, Cork Art Studios