I Need a Backbone
In September of 2015, I lost my dad suddenly. If you've known me for a while, you'll know I talk a lot about it. I often get connected to people who have experienced the sudden loss or loss of a parent at an early age — sometimes it feels like I should wear a name tag and say, 'I lost my dad early on,' but honestly, I get connected to people and all the sudden we find out we share this experience.
It's a weird badge of honor.
The day he passed, I picked up a journal and wrote only the word 'backbone'. I don't know what it meant, but it took me 8 years to write the song. Grief doesn't have a linear path.
What I learned in the space between then and now might be summed up in a song on my new album called BACKBONE, but that song isn't out yet, so I'll try and make a list to easily communicate this.
- Don't go to bed withholding an 'I love you' or a 'thanks' for helping me with this complex question.
- What you think you will grieve, you probably won't… and what you don't think you'll grieve will haunt you.
- There are no clear steps to grief. Anxiety and depression are like pimples that will just appear and ruin your picture.
- OR you can just embrace the pimples as fashion and know that you're not alone
- There will be lots of people who won't know what to say to you, and that is ok. It is not their journey to figure out your grief.
- But there will be lots of people who will hold space for you, who will hold your dog while you travel to/from home to figure out funeral arrangements... while you have to figure out how to sell a dead person's car and figure out their unpaid taxes. And those are the friends that will matter.
- I wish that it wasn't true, but the only thing certain is 'death & taxes' and just know that and maybe help your parents get it together sooner or have an understanding of it… this is a sensitive issue, but it is also true.
- There is no correct way to grieve. There is only your journey with it.
- While there will be other family members who will grieve, I sometimes describe it as you're all on the same Mario Kart course, but the make/model of your vehicle and how you drive will be so different, so I would just try and give grace. You won't grieve the same as your sibling, and that's ok… but you can find a lot of ways through it together.
- If you are scared of death.. you aren't alone. Maybe talk about it with your friends. My partner and I are starting an 'existential supper club' for these kinds of daunting questions.
I wish grief were sexy and cool and talked about and embraced.. but it is not yet. Be the change there... talk about the hard stuff. It will lighten over time.
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