Grieving To The Oldies
"...music can be such a revelation...dancin' around you feel the sweet sensation..."
- Madonna 1985
If you have read a few of my posts you've probably noticed that you see a musical quote at the start of every entry. It's because I am a music person. To me, that just means that I appreciate music of all kinds. I always have. I love to listen to music, hear bands live, go to the opera, sing around the camp fire and privately in my kitchen and shower, too. I love it all. Most people I know will agree that music has contributed largely to the memories of their lives and for me that is most definitely true. I know exactly where I was in the world when I first heard Neil Diamond (my Dad’s 1981 Monte Carlo) The Cure (Susan’s room when we were about 13) Pet Shop Boys (lying on my first boyfriend’s waterbed!) The Sundays (London circa1993). All of it is stored securely in the record cabinet of my head and heart.
Those memories are so deeply imprinted. It’s been said before that these impressions create a soundtrack for our lives… and it’s so true. A better analogy there has never been. I wouldn’t try to top it. All the important stuff - first dances (“Lies” by Fleetwood Mac), wedding anthems (“I Gotta Feeling by Black Eyed Peas 2009, AND “Wonderwall” by Oasis 1996… I’ve had a couple weddings!) and new babies (“Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon and “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars) - all these milestone memories are attached to songs that evoke the feelings from that time and place. It’s so powerful, right?
I have always loved that a melody or lyric could transport me right back to those important times… when I listen to those songs, I’m right back there in my heart. Saying “I do” or dancing around the house with my new baby, feeling the melancholy sadness of a break up or the excitement of stepping off a plane in a new country. I have always loved being able to trigger those feelings with the easy click of a “Play” button.
So with this kind of powerful emotional trigger, what the fuck is a girl to do when the person that was with her in SO many of those milestone moments is all the sudden gone? How is the music lover in me supposed to enjoy music without re-breaking her own heart repeatedly? I challenge you in painful times to take a listen to lyrics in general. It’s just awful. All the sudden songs you are very familiar with will make you sick to your stomach with grief. “With Or Without You”?? OMG, U2. So insensitive. “Invisible String”? Thanks for ripping my heart out Taylor Swift!
When Darcy and I renovated our home before Miller was born, we did the best thing when we put it in the budget to install our Sonos system – speakers through the home and access to all our favorite playlists at the touch of our iPhones. We literally have had music playing non-stop since the day we moved in. So, when he died and I was in trapped in my home for a bit…thankfully, with a revolving door of only my most trusted friends and family…we ALL needed a soundtrack to keep us going, but we were hard-pressed to find a playlist that didn’t CRUSH us with every song.
We’d be sitting out on the deck or in the living room and a song would come on and we’d all look at each other, nervously, to see if the others were noticing the lyrics too. It got almost comical. Bon Iver and Taylor Swift punching me in the throat with their haunting song “Exile” (“I think I’ve seen this film before and I didn’t like the ending…” really?) and a swift kick in the balls from The Weeknd whenever I’d hear “Blinding Lights”, our roadtrip fave. Come ON!
I was dying a thousand deaths by my own hand. Adding a layer of musical torture to my already bleak days of pain, panic and heartache.
What was once my favourite, helpful, artful medium for enhancing the mood was no longer helpful at all. I didn’t want to enhance these feelings one bit.
Thank God for my good friend Jill and the morning that she finally announced “I’ve GOT IT! I found the right music for us to listen to! ” From my excited reaction you’d have thought it was Christmas morning and the Barbie Dream Camper was parked under the tree. “Tell me!” I panted with anticipation. (Yep, panted. I hadn’t had any good news in a long time.) With a sparkle in her eyes she announced “It’s….the 80’s.” Oh goodness. I mean, I loved the music I grew up with but it seemed a bit juvenile for the moment. Still, I was willing to try anything and I can happily report that this WAS the key, for me. It wasn’t so much about the genre as it was about my relationship to the genre and the memories it evoked. There weren’t many big memories in the forefront of my mind that didn’t include Darcy, but when we put on the ‘All Out 80’s’ playlist, all the songs were attached to important memories that mattered to me, but they were not at all related to him. The playlists were enjoyable to listen to and they actually made me feel… happy.
Seriously, think about the music of your formative years. For me, it didn’t matter how much the lyrics matched my love for Darcy or my sadness for him being gone. What mattered is that these melodies transported me back to an earlier memory, just as strong. Maybe even stronger, because this soundtrack mirrored the FIRST time I had felt true love or heartache or drunken joy! It was BIGGER than what I was experiencing in the present time and so it was safe music to listen to. It was genius.
I mean when I hear Peter Cetera singing “Glory of Love” I am ONLY thinking about my big big love for Ralph Macchio in Karate Kid (Part II) and when Huey Lewis sang about the “Power of Love”, all those lyrics relate to my love for my husband but the bigger love I feel is for the young Michael J. Fox hopping in the DeLorean with Doc! I’m not joking you guys. The 80’s were working for me! Even listening to Murray Head sing “One Night In Bangkok” doesn’t make me think of Darcy, and he literally PROPOSED to me with a beautiful ring one night…in Bangkok.
Here's a pic from our first anniversary scrapbook of us on the night he proposed to me on our rooftop patio in the Kao San Road (after a lot of Thai whiskey and fried bugs!)
He carried that diamond around in a sock in our backpack for a month!
I love that memory but it is a beautiful gift to remember that I had a full life before this tragedy. I had a life before Darcy. And I would have a whole and full life moving forward which will include many musically-induced memories of him. But for now, the 80’s are on a LOOP!
(Side benefit…My kids are getting pretty educated on some of the greats that they missed out on too! Michael Jackson, Prince, Tom Petty, David Bowie…all in high rotation!)
What we focus on expands, friends. What I mean by that is, when we are feeling a certain feeling or thinking about something continually, MORE of that feeling or that something will show up for us. Example, If you are constantly thinking about covid and all the ways it is fucking with your life, you are going to be inundated with more fucked-up covid-related challenges. Alternatively, if you are, say, listening to songs that make you feel happy and joyful or recall fond memories of your life, then you are going to experience more of those good feelings! It’s all about what’s on your radar, so to speak.
This simple discovery around music has not only served my need to not be stabbed in the heart constantly. It has actually raised my vibration, made me want to dance in my kitchen while making dinner, sing in the shower again and share fond stories of the past with my kids. This kind of goodness in your auric field just attracts more goodness. This helps us heal. It’s a fact. So wherever you are in your healing journey, take a minute to figure out what your medicine is. Mine is music. Since realizing the correlation between music and my emotions, I have been able to use it as a tool to help me feel lighter and attract more of the same! Similarly, if taking a walk or a hike is your medicine, choose a trail or a walking partner that takes you back to a happier time and conjures up a higher frequency and check out how that good notion sticks with you for a little longer every time you allow yourself to feel it. And if the 90's are your jam, well, check in with Marky Mark! His Funky Bunch has got ya covered with their good vibrations!
Til Next Time,
Heal and Be Healed,
PS. Jill says "You're welcome."