When our son Garret died, music was very therapeutic for us. More so for Jack than myself, but I have learned to really lean into the music and I have carried it on with my own updated playlist. Jack created a "playlist" although back in 2006 it was a mix of songs we copied onto a c.d. I printed and created labels for the c.d.'s that had the list of songs and it was called the "Garret Mix". We had the songs that we had at his funeral and more; these were the songs that really grounded us and let us grieve with tears and remembrance. I have added A LOT of songs to this mix and it is now a 5 1/2 hour playlist on spotify and it's called the Garret & Jack mix. I add to it continuously, there are songs of all genre on there and some of them I skip if I'm not in the mood and some I play on repeat. I hit shuffle and just sit and remember on the days that I need it most. I will share the spotify link at the end of this entry. You can also go to my linkt.ree on my Instagram page and I have a button for you to push to take you directly to the "Grief Playlist - Garret & Jack mix". (anyone can make a playlist and it can be songs that remind you of your person, their favorite band or artist, it can be whatever you want it to be. It doesn't have to be "grief-y", it can be head banging, or 80's...whatever makes you remember and feel good that's perfect).
We have a pleasure center in our brain where all sorts of feel-good neurotransmitters make us feel really good when we do certain things. Sometimes we resort to negative coping to stimulate that pleasure center; this may include overeating, alcohol, binge shopping, gambling, etc. BUT, if we can apply music to any of our situations and use it for our benefit, life will be much better. Music allows us to access our deepest emotions, helping us discover, experience, and accept them fully. Music gives you an outlet to grieve when words are impossible. We use music to pump us up at the gym or to exercise, we use music to sooth us when we are unwinding and trying to quiet our minds, we use certain musics to just sing along in the car when the sun starts shining, and we use music while we grieve when you just want to listen to sad music and get a good cry out. This is why music is so beneficial to our brain and our emotions. I have heard "why would I listen to that song, it will make me cry and be sad"? Well, music can be a source of comfort by decreasing emotional and physical distress. As a griever we have a tendency to block our emotions for protection and we have a numbness to the grief we are feeling, it's a coping mechanism. BUT, if we can listen to the music it relaxes our barrier that we have put up and it gives our brain the power to "feel" those emotions. What will happen is tears will fall, you will and may be sad, you will release the tension of grief and feel the loss, and you just may smile through those tears as the song playing takes your back to a time & place of happiness. AND THAT'S OKAY!!
The band Grateful Dead has SO many wonderful lyrics in their songs, if you can just sit and really listen to the music. These are two awesome quotes by the Dead; "Once in a while you can get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right" AND "If you get confused, listen to the music play". WOW...to me those are powerful in a grief journey. Just repeat those and think about your person that has died and think about your journey that you are on. I have a brief story about the first lyric; this was after Jack had died and I remember I ran into Scheels store for something. All of a sudden I heard this song playing, it was so loud and clear like it was playing for just me; it was Jack & I's wedding song. Now, two things hit me all at once; one was, I had never even heard music playing at Scheels before that and two, like the lyric above "Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right". I was receiving a message of light & comfort and it was of course in the strangest of places, but after hearing that I left Scheels (without even buying what I came for) and I felt peace about what had just happened. Then with the second lyric above, when I am confused about how I am feeling or if the path seems a little murky in my mind on what I'm supposed to do...I listen to the music play.
I also understand that sometimes it's too hard to listen to music. I hope & pray for you if you are at this moment in your journey, that it will come to you; it will come to you I know. Like I have always said, give yourself grace...we all grieve different, at different time lines, and music may not be in your cards right now.
Where my husband & son are buried, it's very beautiful and peaceful especially during early dusk. But have you ever taken a walk around a cemetery and actually looked at the headstones? Headstones are a final gift or "thing" we can do for our loved one that is so very permanent, so when we create a headstone for our loved ones, we have to try to tell the story of who they were on a piece of stone. There is a young man buried yards away from my boys and this young man was a musician. He has an etched guitar on his flat headstone and it is absolutely gorgeous. He was loved beyond measure, I can tell that by the care and upkeep his family takes. But the most unique thing about his headstone is they placed a "QR" code on it for you to scan with your phone and it takes you to his you tube site where all his music that he has recorded and played is on. He was a very talented young man, but what a gift his family has given all of us. This is their healing journey; the gift of music for us to honor and remember and get to know their son. I just love it.
Another topic I have regarding music is funeral songs; do you ever struggle or wonder what your loved one would want played at their funeral? If you didn't have the opportunity to ask them, do you think you honored them with the best songs? I love when people play different songs than what we are expecting. I like to look up at a funeral and be like, really this song...awesome...good for them and I will smile silently for the person that had to say goodbye. Well...another thought for you to ponder. Pick out your funeral songs today. We did this, we were all sitting around one night, about 8 of us and we had a few drinks and decided to play and pick our funeral songs out. We have them in our "notes" folder on a phone and damnit, we will play those songs and it will be the best funeral songs you have ever heard from that person that had to say goodbye!
Morrie Schwartz said “Death ends a life, not a relationship”, as I say until next time, remember the music helps us become "Better Together" so as the amazing Grateful Dead sang "Let there be songs to fill the air".
Link to my "Grief Playlist-Garret & Jack mix" (click on the playlist name to be taken directly there)
**Images are lyrics produced by the Grateful Dead"