Songs On My Grief Playlist
Melodies that made me cry, scream, and reminisce during difficult days
Crying is good for you. The alternative to crying is holding it all inside. That may work for a while, but eventually, the tears will come. I know this as a widow who experienced sudden loss. I also know this as a counselor.
My clients will frequently apologize if they start tearing up during the session. Pre COVID-19, when we were actually in the same room, I would hand them a box of tissues and encourage them to let it out. I can't give them virtual tissue on Zoom, so I tell them that crying is good, and they never need to apologize for it.
I knew this instinctively when my husband Patrick died. I was also in shock, and for me, that made tears difficult. I also take anti-depressants, which can take the edge off emotions (Yes, counselors can use anti-depressants).
The combination of shock and anti-depressants was one thing that I credited with helping me get through the first few weeks, and I am grateful for that. At the same time, I knew crying was good, and I embraced the tears when they finally came.
I have always loved music. 80's Alternative is my favorite. I think Sirius created the 1st Wave channel just for me! So, it makes sense that music helped me mourn. Patrick loved music too, and I believe that he sent me some of these songs.
The first song came to me a few days after Patrick died. Patrick was killed on an early morning bike ride on a Wednesday. On Friday, two days after he died, my 17-yr-old daughter, Camille, really wanted to go to school for at least part of the day. She had a car, but I didn't want her to drive. And, if I'm honest, I needed the normalcy of driving my daughter to school.
As we left the house, my phone synced with the car stereo, and a song from my iTunes library came on. I can't remember the exact song, but my daughter's downloaded it when they shared my iTunes account, and I believe it was a "Screamo" song (thank you, Sierra). I hit next, and "Ordinary World" by Duran Duran came on. I am a huge Duran Duran fan, and this was on my playlist, but I honestly hadn't paid attention to the words.
The title jumped out at me, and I thought it was perfect. "Ordinary, that's what I want." And then I started listening. I won't type all of the lyrics, just the first three verses:
Came in from a rainy Thursday on the avenue
Thought I heard you talking softly
I turned on the lights, the TV, and the radio
Still I can't escape the ghost of you
What has happened to it all?
Crazy, some'd say
Where is the life that I recognize?
But I won't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive
Excerpt from "Ordinary World" by Duran Duran
As I listened to the words, I glanced at Camille to see if she was hearing them, and tears were streaming down her face. I decided to switch to another song so she wouldn't cry, but I played it on the way home and then sat in the car, listening and crying when I got to the house.
1st song on my playlist - Ordinary World - by Duran Duran
Weeks later, a song started running through my head. I may have heard it right before that, but I choose to believe that Patrick steered me toward it. Yellow was one of his favorite colors. I also have a friend who is a spiritual medium. I told her about the song, and she told me to watch out for that color. I did, and I started noticing it in places that I had never seen. Flowers in full bloom that I had just walked past. A random scrap of paper on the road. I noticed yellow everywhere, and it brought me comfort. Listen to it, and I think you'll see why.
I LOVE P!NK! The color and especially the artist! This song is about someone leaving, not dying, but the lyrics sum up my anger that an impaired driver took the love of my life from me, and that wasn't supposed to happen!
If someone said three years from now
You'd be long gone
I'd stand up and punch them out
'Cause they're all wrong
I know better
'Cause you said forever
Excerpt from "Who Knew" by P!NK
3rd Song on my Playlist
Excerpt from Who Knew - by P!NK
The next song was also a song that I had loved for a while, but Patrick's death gave it new meaning. The lead singer of Train, Patrick Monaghan, wrote "Drops of Jupiter" after his mother died. The song is a beautiful image of his mother sailing across the universe pain-free. The singer is happy for his mom but also sad for himself, a perfect description of grief.
But tell me
Did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way
To see the lights all faded?
And that Heaven is overrated?
Did you fall from a shooting star
One without a permanent scar?
And did you miss me while you were
Looking for yourself out there?
Excerpt from "Drops of Jupiter" by Train
4th Song on my Playlist
Excerpt from Drops of Jupiter - by Train
My final song is the song we used as the soundtrack for our wedding video. After that, it became "our song." I honestly had never paid much attention to the lyrics but guess what? They're about loss too! Hearing it makes me a little sad, but mostly it makes me smile.
Daylight licked me into shape
I must have been asleep for days
And moving lips to breathe her name
I opened up my eyes
And found myself alone, alone, alone above a raging sea
That stole the only girl I loved and drowned her deep inside of me
You soft and only
You lost and lonely
You just like heaven
Excerpt from "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure
I compiled my playlist, I used it to help me mourn. You see, Patrick was hit and killed while riding his bike on Shaw Avenue, just a few miles from our home. The route he was on was one I liked to ride, but it was also a road that I frequently traveled on. I had been to the scene of the crash one time, and it wasn't easy. I wanted to be able to drive by without being upset. So I would go to Shaw and hit play right before I got to the scene.
I always did this alone. And when I drove past, I would scream as loud as I could. And maybe I would cry a little more as I went a little further. Then I would start calming down and usually drive until the last song played. "Just Like Heaven" always calmed any remaining tears, and I would be ready to go back home and put on a smile for my girls.
Eventually (1 1/2 years later), I got back on my bike, and I rode, alone, past the scene. I was remarkably calm. It was a victory!
Originally published on Medium on August 19, 2020.
I began writing after my late husband's death in 2016. I created a blog, My Life After Patrick to write about my experience and how I was moving forward. In the four years since then I have finished my Masters in Counseling and remarried.