Music and grief

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In this blog, our Reading meet up Host Emily explores the link between music and grief.

It is so well known that grief can often unleash such scary, unknown and uncontrollable emotions. Grief can certainly leave you feeling out of control or lost and isolated. The fond memories I have from my childhood with my Dad involve music. His favourite song was Mr Blue Sky, and we listened to The Lighthouse Family together so many times. He took my brother and I to see Mamma Mia in the theatre, and we got embarrassed when he tried to sing along to Hi-5 in the theatre. I get sad when I hear songs inspired by grief, such as If You Could See Me Now by The Script.

This quote from a website called Songs Of Loss and Healing says “you can use music to navigate grief, and to consciously influence, channel and give direction to your raw emotions. Music can help you to create your story, define your relationship to grief and even turn your grief into something beautiful.”

James Arthur’s new single – Emily – inspired me to imagine what my Dad might write to me now if he could send me a letter from heaven.

Dear Emily,

I’m proud of you. If there is one thing I want you to hold in your heart and in your head forever, it is that I am proud of you. You are my daughter, my only daughter and my favourite daughter and I have watched you grow up into a young woman. You’re still searching for your passion and purpose, you’re young and you have your whole life ahead of you.

Do you know that you inspire me every single day? Every minute of every hour of every day. I am inspired by your strength and determination, your resilience and perseverance. You have never let the challenges you have faced make you bitter towards life, instead you have used them to be better, you have used them to help others. You have no idea how many lives you have changed, saved even.

Emily, I chose your name. It is said that the name, your name – Emily – means to be “industrious and hardworking”. These are qualities that you have in spades, my darling daughter. You set your sights on your goals and you work hard to achieve them. Emily, I believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself. I have faith in you, even when you don’t have faith in yourself. I have confidence in you, even when you don’t have confidence in yourself.

I have seen you broken, feeling hopeless and alone, questioning whether you can keep pushing forwards. I know you’ve wanted to join me and all I wanted was to take you in my arms and give you a huge hug, just like I used to pick you up and give you a cuddle when you were a little girl. My little girl. I’ve seen you rise from the ashes of your doubt and fear and devastation into the beautiful, proud phoenix that you are, lighting up the world with the fire of your kindness and empathy and eagerness to help others.

Oh, Emily, I had to write this carefully, choose the words cleverly. I’m not a writer like you are but I was inspired by your love for languages so I wrote you this letter. Please know that wherever we are, we’re family.

I am so proud of you.

Love, Dad

I don’t know what my Dad would say to me or write to me if he was still alive. But listening to music and writing helps me to explore my feelings and get them out in the open, which is important in itself. It’s mad how a song – with my name as its title – inspired me to think about and write this blog.

“Music can give us a window to that other side of ourselves. It can even help us discover ourselves, grow as people and become stronger through grief, little consolation as that may be.”

Emily Maybanks

Inspired by Emily’s blog to share your thoughts? Email us at blog@letstalkaboutloss.org to submit your story.

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