Music carves a path through grief: Jill's story

Kyle and Erik before cancer and addiction robbed them of their good health.

Kyle and Erik before cancer and addiction robbed them of their good health.

This is the story of Jill, a woman who has endured more heartbreak in the past 18 months than anyone should have to.  In April of 2013 she lost her husband to cancer, and just nine months later she lost her 31-year old son to a heroin overdose after a 7 – 8 year battle with addiction.  Jill has generously offered to share her story to help raise awareness about the heroin problem that unfortunately plagues us; as she said, “addiction doesn’t discriminate.”  Music has played a role in Jill’s recovery process, which I am honored to share with you.

Music has taken on a heightened meaning for me over the past year. My husband, Kyle, passed away from lung cancer on April 5, 2013. During the difficult 4 months of his treatment and the early days/months after his passing away I found that watching/listening to the news or talk radio or regular television became irritating to me and I would just turn them off. But listening to music (especially particular songs) touched my heart in a way that it had never done before. Some songs like Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips or Over You by Miranda Lambert would bring me to tears just about every time I heard them. But those tears had an almost therapeutic feel to them. And Happy by Pharrell Williams would give me goose bumps and make me smile through my tears, giving me hope that one day I would be happy again.

A few months later, on December 12, 2013 the younger of my 2 sons, Erik, passed away from a heroin overdose. My heart was broken for the second time and any healing that I had gained after losing my husband was now lost. And even though songs like Demons by Imagine Dragons and The Needle and the Damage Done by Neil Young ripped my heart out, I found myself listening to them over and over because they captured my grief so completely. My surviving son, Tony, and I promised each other that we would seek out professional help if we thought we needed to.  Well, I needed to and have been seeing a wonderful grief therapist weekly since mid-January of this year, Dr. Paul Martin at the Center for Grief Recovery & Therapeutic Services/Institute for Creativity and Development, which has made the world of difference.

By early spring 2014, I was entertaining thoughts of trying to learn to play the guitar. I had this yearning to find my new voice to go along with my new reality/world. I also just wanted to amuse, entertain and express myself with music. I mentioned this to my son, Tony, and daughter-in-law, Stephanie, who went out and signed me up as a member at the Old Town School of Folk Music. So I signed up for the very beginning Guitar and Singing classes. I'm not very good at either, yet...but I'm inspired to be as good as I can be. And, I'm having so much fun and meeting some extremely talented and amazing people!

Jill holding baby Kyle for the first time.

Jill holding baby Kyle for the first time.

One other major life event happened in 2013: I became a grandmother! Tony and Stephanie welcomed their first, precious child into this world on June 19, 2013. The baby is named Kyle, after his grandfather, who fought as hard as he could to live to see him, but sadly didn't make it. And of course, we've already signed baby Kyle up for the Wiggleworms program at the Old Town School!

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Here is the video for Gone Gone Gone:

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