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Music in my grief

Music in my grief

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Written by a Winston’s Wish content creator

Personally, I don’t understand people who say they don’t like music. It fills every room in my house. I can’t go for a run or complete a gym workout without it. If it’s not blaring through the speakers, it’s filling my head. I catch myself wandering around my classroom, prepping for the day, unaware I’m still singing the words that accompanied me on my commute.

This constant dependence on music, on lyrics, on a buddy with a beat, helps me with every aspect of my life, so of course it helps me with the loss of my father. My dad was a sound engineer; I have no real comprehension of what that entails, but I wish I had appreciated it more when he was here.

I knew he travelled a lot, but not living with him since being a baby, that didn’t impact my every day. I just knew I received exciting keepsakes on his return. He was often in London, working in Oxford’s Street’s 100 Club. He was always listening to music at home, but I’d never know the artist or even the eclectic genre. He’d be proud to know though, I’m sure, that it all seeped in. Even though I have zero ability with any instrument – even a triangle – music runs through my bloodstream just as his genes do.

Music reflects my mood.

Music changes my mood.

Music feeds my understanding of the world.

Music ensures I empathise deeply.

Even the lyrics engraved on his headstone are from a song that resonated with my 18-year-old self. I wonder if he even knew the song. I doubt he’d approve – probably too religious and mainstream – “Heaven is a place nearby, so there’s no need to say goodbye.” I can’t write this without hearing the song and feeling the sadness swell inside, but it’s also comforting. I still hope he’s out there somewhere, ready to reunite with me one day.

The song was from one of my favourite albums as a teen. To me it was about someone who had been poorly for a long time before they died. “I watched your daily fight. I hardly knew.” This is still true; I didn’t know how hard it was for him to breathe and still won’t let myself imagine. My chest begins to compress at the slightest thought.

Of course, the song wasn’t written for me. It was about someone else, full of someone else’s sadness, but it meant, and still means, so much to me.

Continued below…

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Music reaches somewhere inside that feelings hide.

Our music tastes change.

Songs flow in and out of favour. The meaning of lyrics evolve as our understanding expands. But isn’t that just the reason why music can be so helpful when dealing with difficult emotions? Music reaches somewhere inside that feelings hide.

I also think that’s why I adore musicals. If I could sing every word, I am sure I’d be much better understood. The pace, the tone, the pitch, the rhythm, all coming together with the words to tell you how I really feel. I believe the world would be much easier to understand if we sang every word instead of bottling up our real emotions.

Yes – the world would be even noisier! And I might have to learn to sing first (let’s not even begin to contemplate dancing)! I have always been grateful to have music to support me and help me navigate this world and all it throws my way, and maybe Dad felt that way about music too.

How to get help

If you’re struggling with grief right now, Winston’s Wish is here to help and here to listen. Winston’s Wish provides support for grieving children and young people (up to the age of 25). We offer one-to-one and group support sessions. We also have lots of online resources and a Helpline and email service where you can talk to bereavement professionals.

You can call us for free on 08088 020 021 (open 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday), email ask@winstonswish.org or use our live chat (open 3-8pm, Monday to Friday) and find out more on our Get Support page.

If you need urgent support in a crisis, you can contact the 24/7 Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger by texting WW to 85258.