Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Steps of Grieving - Through Music

Most people who know me, know that I like classical music. Those who know me well, know that I'm also a metal head. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was a member of the Def Leppard fan club when I was in middle school. Once I heard Metallica, however, Def Leppard was a thing of the past.

You'd think it would be obvious to a musician what his/her favorite piece of music is. But I don't have one. I remember playing one of those horrid wedding games at a party at Justin's Aunt Boo's house. It was in the style of the show "The Newlywed Game." They asked Justin who my favorite composer was. He made a guess, but it didn't match my guess. I like so many different pieces by so many different composers/bands, that I can't break it down to just one.

Lately I've been thinking about my grief journey through the eyes of a musician. A classical/metal loving musician. (All musical selections are below, because I'm lame and couldn't figure out how to put it all in one post!)

The stages of grief are:
1. Shock and Denial

A lot of people express the feeling of going through a fog during those first days, weeks, and even months after the death of a loved one. I've read other grieving parents describe their grief as not being able to breathe. If you ever see a newly grieving parent on a news program and wonder, "How in the world can he be doing this interview?" He's in shock. It protects the bereaved for a time from the difficult feelings to come. I experienced the fog. The denial I felt was more disbelief. I remember expecting to see Evan bound down the stairs, or come in to the room. He couldn't be dead!

The piece of music I associate with shock is Aquarium of The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint Saens.

2. Pain and Guilt

I'm still here. I still feel an amazing amount of guilt and pain over Evan's death. Even though I may not cry every day anymore, I still hurt every day.

Johannes Brahms Symphony #3, Poco Allegretto

3. Anger and Bargaining

When we lost Evan, I knew that I would be angry eventually. That only seemed natural. But I totally did not get the bargaining. What was that about? Even though I knew I couldn't have Evan back, I did find myself asking God to change things. "If I could be a better mom, could I have him back, Lord?"

The song I chose to represent Anger is "One" by Metallica. The album "And Justice for All" was recorded after the group lost their bass player in a tragic bus accident. It's raw and dark.

4. Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness

Depression is a given with a loss of a child. I didn't expect the loneliness. I have friends. I get together with them somewhat regularly. I see my family and talk to them often. It's a feeling of being alone in my grief. Alone in a way that no one else can understand except another grieving parent. Perhaps I've pushed away, because I just felt like nobody "gets it", instead of reaching out.

Bizet - The Pearl Fishers (opera) Je crois entendre encore

I remember listening to a program on NPR about grief and reflection. The speaker mentioned that Mozart believed the key that expressed the most depth of emotion was A minor. I know that minor keys can make me feel anything from reflective to down right tragic.

5. Acceptance

I may have mentioned this before, but...I saw a family on Oprah who lost their child in a horrible car accident with a drunk driver. The accident occurred a few years ago, but they were still carrying the burden of grief. They basically said that they would never be happy again. My heart broke for them, but at the same time, I said to myself, "I don't want that to be me." I'm not quite at this point in my grief journey, but I do have a song chosen to represent that feeling. It's a song that combines my love for rock and classical. It's called "Butterflies and Hurricanes" by Muse. It's about being your best and changing the world. And there's a nice little piano solo about midway through.

Five stages of grief taken from


Sherrie said...

Thanks for sharing this, and many hugs. It's still shocking to think he's gone.

Anonymous said...

Well said, and oh so poignant. Love you. Mom

Amy said...

These posts always make me cry but I am glad to read them because I imagine it must be somewhat helpful to you to write them.

I'm going to listen to the music links tomorrow...

Anonymous said...

thank you for a beautiful post. I think visually and your post prompted my own reflections. I think a painting may come from this. Have you tried composing something of your own to express your grief? Creativity can be one of the positive things that deep grief gives back. It's saved me more than once. We love you, Lala

Jen said...

Thanks for sharing with us Pam. I think you are a very strong woman and an even stronger mother.


ABNPOPPA said...

Thanks for posting this. I lost my wife of 32 years this week and it's nice to know I am note off the wall for being on the net and reading postings such as this. I cannot imagine your grief of losing a child. My God be with you and your family.

They call me Pops