Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

The Grateful Dead as Grief Advisors

I didn’t listen to the Grateful Dead when I was growing up, too busy, I suppose, swimming in the lake, hiking through the woods, or climbing trees. Today they speak to me of the journey of grief. (Yes, I know. Most things speak to me about grief these days.)
Micky Hart, one of the group’s drummers, was my late introduction to the Dead because he wrote about percussion instruments from around the world and I was heavy into percussion in high school. In books and CDs, he explored the different and complex rhythms that are indigenous to various cultures around the world.

The group’s singing wasn’t the best, but the instrumental playing was inspired. Much of the time the performance seemed like a long improv, with musicians picking up what the previous soloist had given them and doing something creative with it, taking it somewhere else. The songs were long, not the 3-4 minutes songs that play on the radio. They went on and on. They were an experience.
The lyrics in “The Wheel” speak of the movement and nature of life — the wheel keeps turning. You can’t hold on and you can’t go back.
This is like the movement of a river, always moving, dancing, taking what has happened and going on to see what happens next, giving itself over to the passion of life.     

Grief is a Grateful Dead improv.  

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