Grief into Gratitude – a 6 year reflection

After the loss of her husband, my friend’s Mother asked me a valid question: “when does it get better”?  It’s a question I once asked myself while trying to understand my own lyrics and feelings about grieving all that is lost until it’s OK.

“What does OK even mean and what made me think it existed on the other side of any sort of loss?”  At one point I had no answer to that.

I responded to my friend’s Mom with something about it being a different journey for everyone, but that it does get better with time.  I just couldn’t tell her what that might look like in her world, other than it would likely be a day by day process.

When I made the decision to connect with my Dad on a deeper level, I was in counselling to work through some trust issues I had developed over several years.  At the time, committing to our relationship was the most terrifying thing I had ever resolved to do but I had such tremendous motivation, considering he was dying and with no certain expiration date.

Not only was I changed by the time spent up close and personal with real suffering, not only was I inspired by his courage shown in living every day like it was his last, but this crisis revealed so many other things about who I am and who I want to be.  I’ve described it as letting my world fall apart and be rebuilt again from the ground up.

If only I could summarize the transformation that occurred over the last six years.  It would sound something like…

– I am better at expressing love than ever before.

– I wasn’t healthy and now I am healthy.  (Physically, mentally and emotionally.)

– I wasn’t my true self and now I spend every moment of every day feeling like ME.

– I discovered the kind of artist I always wanted to be.  And I’ve made art that comes from a deeper place than ever before; a place of fearless expression.

– I didn’t know how to let anything go and now I hold onto nothing.

– I didn’t believe in myself and now I know I have all I need to become all I desire.

– I felt trapped in a world of rules and anger that I now see as wide open, expansive and free.

– I am happier that it happened than I am sorry that it ended.

That last one is big.  It’s what that song “Renegade” is talking about with the line about grieving all that is lost until it’s OK.

Usually, my July 11th consists of driving out to the secret place where the ashes of my Dad’s body were buried and sitting beneath the Oak Tree.  It is usually a sweaty, difficult, mosquito filled hike in the most peaceful forest with memories being shared by my step-mother and I.

This year, I had a different sort of adventure.  I lived like it was my last day on earth by filling it with wonderful things I love (that Dad would have loved too).

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I took “Betty” (his 1982 Honda 900 motorcycle) out to Gaffer’s in Lockport for the first time.

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I spent time with my plants and my piano.  I mulled over a new song idea.

I drank cold beer outside on a hot day.  I had an awesome dinner with the love of my life.  I went for a drink with a good friend and saw the most badass guitar player, Claire Bestland, setting Shannon’s Irish Pub on fire with her incredible music.

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I felt so much more gratitude than grief.  I was far too inspired to feel loss.  And it was so much better than OK.  In fact, if it were the last day of my life, it would have been the most appropriate way to end it!  I can’t begin to imagine how it is that I am so fortunate to live this life of mine.

There’s another song idea I had a couple of years ago.  Like many others, it came to me in the car:

“Although I’ll never know where we will go when we die,

Oh I, I’ll put on a big show, for everyone I know, with taco salad and pie.

With performances as big as a car,

for everyone who stuck around this far.

Oh I’ll write you a song, it won’t belong on any conventional radio

And even though it’s just for show…”  da da da da…

One day I’ll finish it but until then, I wanted the world to know that I’m awake and aware of the positive energy of which I am capable and that I’m coming to take it over with art.  With music that I make and that I get to make with others.  Writings that have nothing to do with death but everything to do with the fact that we only get this one life to live and that the right path is YOURS.  And it is today.  And it is mine.  (I hope there will be taco salad and pie too.)

I believe in you, my dear Renegades.  I couldn’t live this creative life without you and I’m so glad we’re in it together.  All of us – including the painful and the departed.  I believe in our ability as a “force to be reckoned with” for positive change, to slow down and enjoy the moments that make life worth living and to pursue opportunities for connection and transformation.  To grieve all that has been expressed as “loss” in your life, until it’s okay.  To find out what that means for you.

Because life is too beautiful, awesome and incredible to NOT live each day like it were our last and enjoy it as much as possible.

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Dad & I100_1031

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Photo: Father's Day 2009

Photo: Father’s Day 2009

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~ by lindseywhitemusic on July 13, 2015.

One Response to “Grief into Gratitude – a 6 year reflection”

  1. YES!!

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