I’ve never been a Prince fan. His music became popular when I started being a parent and pastor and kind of pulled away from my late adolescence. And yet I understand why so many grieve his death. For many of us, music is something like the sound track of our life. It speaks to us on a level that is difficult to put into words. My mom, who was almost 50, cried when Elvis died. How many of us can say where we were when John Lennon was shot? I listened to the Eagles for an hour or so after I heard of the death of Glenn Fry. My kids still talk about the death of Kurt Cobain of Nirvana as a tragedy. Makes you wonder what all those Mozart fans went through. Perhaps Don McLean got something right in his song about the sudden death of Buddy Holly in his song “American Pie.”
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
Something touches us deep inside with the death of creative artists who have helped us connect with a deeper part of ourselves in a way that nothing else seemed to be able to do at the time. What touches us is more than nostalgia or a longing for a second adolescence where we secretly listen to lyrics and tunes our parents do not like and cannot understand. What touches us deep inside is grief.
One of the things I’ve come to believe about an experience of grief is that it is very sensitive and connected. One experience of grief can quickly and fully connect with another deeper, more personal sadness. The news of the death of Prince in the middle of saying goodbye to my “bro,” on the day before the anniversary of a tragic death in my life 40 years ago… was a trifecta of sorrow.
Grief is something we all walk through at a different pace…you never know from one person to the next where seemingly disconnected losses in a life may create a much larger wake in the depths of a soul. We may think that some folks are a bit overreacting to the death of Prince, and we are tired of hearing about it all. I’m just about there, to tell you the truth. But I for one want to be patient for a few more days…I don’t know from one person to the next how this public experience of grief is touching someone I know deep inside in ways in which even they…cannot connect the dots.