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Managing grief and loss with music

I thought I would write this blog because death is an event that is often pushed under the carpet and it's an emotive part of life that I am dealing with right now.


I want to share my thoughts, and to let you know that I have found that music can help dealing with loss in many ways.


In January 2021 my 96 year old Grandmother passed away.

She had lived and independent life right up until her last year, but finally she just couldn't manage on her own.


I guess because of her age when she died, although I was incredibly sad, I'd had time to consider how I might feel before she passed away, a bit of time to come to terms with what grief to expect.


What I was not prepared for was the total finality of what death is.

It was only when she had died that I really comprehended that I would never see her again, never feel her warmth, never get a birthday or Christmas card, never have another cuddle.....and that is a powerful thought to process.


I noticed after her death, that when I was putting playlists together for my classes that some of the music I was choosing a bit different from my normal warm up or cool down tunes. Listening to songs in class I had a heightened awareness to the lyrics, and I was selecting songs that gave me comfort, or took me away from the feelings I was having.





Me with my Grandmother, Jean in 2020.


Just a few weeks ago my Father, who had been fighting cancer for many years, also died aged 78.

Unlike my Grandmother, I felt he had unfinished business on the planet, that there was still much that he wanted to do, and as a creative person right until the end of his life, he had more to give.


I learned of his death early on a Saturday morning.

The same day that I teach my 10am class.


I did consider cancelling the class.....but only for a minute, because I knew that the music would look after me. I decided to dedicate the class to him and dance my heart out.


So my warm up was an Abba medley! 7 minutes of pure pop heaven, uplifting beats and a nod to his admiration of this Swedish band. Having a Norwegian ex wife,

this Scandi band were on his playlist.

Then after the usual mix of Zumba & Bollywood tunes, I finished with a cool down by Robbie Williams......Angels.


At this point I don't mind telling you I was welling up! But it was with love.

The weirdest thing is that throughout that class I did not think about my feelings at all until the cool down.

I had space, 50 minutes of glorious space where I was in a zone where hurt and grief could not touch me.


Music offers us space to grieve, and song lyrics can help us identify our feelings and put into words what we can't ourselves. Knowing this, we can use music to help lift us and

quash, temporarily, emotions that might otherwise be a bit overwhelming.

Add this weapon to our emotional arsenal with dance and suddenly you feel in control again, even if only for a short while.


I realise that this might not resinate with everybody, but I'm sure that we have all found solace in music.....even for those we don't know.

When Princess Diana died, Elton John's 'Candle in the wind' became a national focus for how we felt as a nation about her death and it brought people together.

Likewise, when Eric Clapton's young son died tragically, he wrote 'Tears in Heaven', the lyrics of which speak to anybody that has lost someone they love.



My Dad, Peter Gibson, 2012


I feel so very lucky that my Dad was a musician and made many recordings. I have his songs and music to always remember him by.

I'll be honest, I haven't been able to play anything with his vocals on since he died, because I know it will make me fall apart. But equally I know there will be a time in the future that I'll have that library to draw from and I'll be able to reconnect with him.

He might even find his way into a Zumba class one day.........who knows!


I am at the beginning of a journey into a life with 2 of my major influences now no longer there. It's a scary thought that I am going rogue!


My Grandmother made me feel grounded and my Father made me feel adventurous and free spirited. I'm very aware of now having to remember the things that were important and influential to me, from them, as that resource has now gone.


So now my life guides are the people that I love that are here and now, and the songs and the lyrics of the music I love too.

I will "Keep on keeping on" on as the great Northern Soul classic suggests.


I hope that this little post might resonate with some of you, and might help you to think about how you can face the feelings of losing a person close to you with the help of

music.


Think of the people you love and listen to the songs and music that reminds you of the wonderful times you enjoyed with them, or the sad times that you got through together.


It doesn't take away the deep feeling of loss and the gravity of knowing you'll never be with that person again, but it can give you head space, and help us to convey others how we are feeling, and music is amazing for reliving memories of the times we spent with the people we love, that's for sure.



Tears In Heaven Eric Clapton

Would you know my name? If I saw you in heaven Would it be the same? If I saw you in heaven I must be strong And carry on 'Cause I know I don't belong Here in heaven

Would you hold my hand? If I saw you in heaven Would you help me stand? If I saw you in heaven I'll find my way Through night and day 'Cause I know I just can't stay Here in heaven

Time can bring you down Time can bend your knees Time can break your heart Have you begging please Begging please Beyond the door There's peace, I'm sure And I know there'll be no more Tears in heaven

Would you know my name? If I saw you in heaven Would you be the same? If I saw you in heaven I must be strong And carry on 'Cause I know I don't belong Here in heaven





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