Believe As You Grieve (For Michael)

With the passing of Michael Jackson we lost one of the most gifted artists in the history of music. He’s forever a part of our collective consciousness, our creative culture, our pop music sensibility, and our childlike sense of wonder and possibility.

One of the key things to remember is that he will always be those things. His music lives on. His artistry still resonates and will ring true as long as there are ears to hear, eyes to see, hearts to move and souls to inspire.

Many of you are likely still in shock while others are still fighting tears and asking the question, why. Many people in these last several days have said that they felt like they lost a brother or friend because his music provided the soundtrack that carried them from childhood, through adolescent, and on into adulthood. His passing also reminds us of our own fragility and humanity as we grieve for his family and for ourselves.

Grief Is Personal

As you work through the grieving process remember that grieving is a uniquely personal experience. How you grieve depends on many things such as your personality style and coping mechanisms, your life experience, and your faith. Grieving also takes time. It should not be rushed.

Remember that wounding or suffering a loss of someone happened quickly as in the case with Michael Jackson’s death. But that process of healing does not come quickly. In fact it tends to come in layers or waves. It’s a season of recovery. It is a process. Some people begin to feel whole again in a few weeks or many a month or two. For others, the grieving process may take years. Be patient with yourself and others. Allow the process to flow as you go about your daily routine.

Neverland Becomes Foreverland

You might even want to have your own wake or memorial service with a neverland theme, except you could call it foreverland. You can view footage of his performances and videos. You can play his music. You could plan a tribute with live music and people sharing favorite Michael Jackson moments. These could be memories associated with various times in his career. It’s a great way to honor someone who has been and will be forever an influence in your life as a person and as an artist who sings.

You can even create fun games with Michael Jackson trivia. Look for unique, creative ways to honor this man who was so profoundly gifted. You could even have a “man in the mirror” tribute by sharing what you see of Michael Jackson in yourself. Make a statement about how his work has impacted who you are, your dreams, pursuits, passions, and what you do.

One of the key pieces of advice given for those going through the grieving process is to find help or get support. Sharing your loss makes the burden of grief easier to work through. Connecting to others will help you heal and help you identify and get help for any feelings of depression. Sharing Michael Jackson’s music and memories will also help you open up and allow yourself to grieve and to heal.

Symptoms Of Grief

Don’t be surprised by the depth of grief you feel with his passing and don’t listen to others who minimize or reject what you feel. Almost anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal – including anxiety, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or even questioning your faith. Typical feelings you will have range from shock and disbelief to deep sorrow. Michael Jackson was a father and leaves young children behind. This can cause deep sorrow as you grieve for those kids, his family and loved ones.

You will likely feel a great deal of anger, especially towards people who’ve made of him or who even make jokes about his death. You’ll feel likely because he was about to stage a comeback, and it was cut short. His passing might even trigger fears or worries in your life about your health, your career, or even fears of death. It is not at all uncommon to experience physical symptoms of grief as well. You may feel heartsick in that same way that homesickness hits from time to time. You may have aches and pains that seem to come from nowhere. You may even have trouble sleeping.

Take Care Of Yourself

As you grieve take care of yourself and reach out to others who share your grief. Face your feelings as they come. Look for creative ways to express those feelings. On your own terms and in your own time, press on. Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.

One thing I’ve learned after working through many losses of family and friends is that the grief is ongoing. There will be triggers, and they’ll often seem to come out of the blue. You might question your sanity, but trust me; it’s simply part of the grieving and healing process. With Michael Jackson you might hear a song of his on the radio or in a restaurant, wherever you are his music will likely be for awhile. So, understand you may lose it from time to time.

Grieve With Others

Also, things such as anniversaries, holidays, and other markers in life can cause memories and feelings about Michael Jackson that you thought were in check to resurface. That’s ok. It’s normal and in fact to be expected. If you’re sharing a holiday or a mile marker event of some sort with other fans, talk to them ahead of time about their expectations and agree on strategies to honor the Michael Jackson.

If you want find something in your work as an artist and in your voice as a singer that you can dedicate to the memory of Michael Jackson. This is a healthy way to move forward and put life in perspective. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate his life and yours. Yes, he is gone; and yes, he lives on through his music and through the impact he has on our culture and on each individual who took him to heart.

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