Music ‘n Musings

Loss does not come without growth


This last Monday marked a year since my grandpa’s passing. It was a year that seemed like both a second and a century, a year full of major life changes and accomplishments that I wasn’t able to share with him. I struggled to adjust to only seeing one grandparent when we visited and watched as my family slowly processed their grief, whether by taking down pictures for a few months or having to take a moment alone to gather strength and be there for each other. Those first few months were some of the hardest, and I sometimes found it easier to retreat within myself and push it to the back of my mind so I’d be able to move forward and make it through the end of the school year. A lot of the time it felt like this melancholic going through the motions was the new norm.

As I persevered through my grief, I was able to find hope in the little things. I started to spend more time outside and even tried my hand at gardening (rest in peace, miscellaneous herbs). When I’d see my younger cousins, their constant laughter and high energy lifted my spirits even when I was all too aware of the empty chair in the corner. These acts of searching for the good and lovely things in the midst of the sad and devastating helped me to slowly pick myself back up from the heavy blow I’d been dealt.

During this period of restoration, a song I used to listen to almost daily was “Chiquitita” by Abba. In a lot of ways, it really represented my own journey, both within its lyrics and music. The song revolves around a friend pleading for “Chiquitita” to open up and let herself start to heal after suffering some heartbreak. The singer laments how prior to being hurt, Chiquitita was full of self-confidence and vigor, but now seems like she’s “broken a feather,” becoming “enchained by her own sorrow” and turning into a different person, much like my own experience right after my grandpa’s passing. But as the song progresses, and the music goes from slow and reflective to driving and upbeat, hope arises once more, and the song becomes one not of lament but of encouragement.

The words of encouragement that were meant to offer strength to the subject of this song helped me realize how I could overcome my grief. My favorite line, “Chiquitita, you and I cry / But the sun is still in the sky and shining above you,” filled me with such an immense amount of hope that it would pick me up out of my slump. Just think about what it’s saying: You can be sad, you can mourn, you can miss the person you’ve lost immensely, but don’t let yourself forget that there is still a world around you.

It’s a world full of beauty and happiness, ready for you to go out and tackle it. The sun still shines, the world continues, and you have to continue too. Finding the constants in the world, like the sun and sky and earth around you, and choosing to recognize the little moments that brighten days helped me heal. I still miss my grandpa a lot, and nothing is the same without him, but my loss also led to my growth, which is something I’m immensely thankful for.

As life goes on, and we experience more and more heartbreak and loss, it will become harder to pick yourself back up again and trudge on. But it can be done. Whenever it feels too overwhelming, stop for a minute, lift your face up to the sun that’s still shining on you in the deep blue sky, and remind yourself to “sing a new song, Chiquitita” and to dwell on the happy memories and the love you shared with your lost loved one rather than the pain you feel.