Grief Lessons: From the Rolling Stones

Recently, I had the pleasure of checking off one of the items on my personal “bucket list.” That was to attend a Rolling Stones concert. Little did I know as my son and I settled into our seats that not only would I witness a fantastic concert but get an up-close and personal lesson on grief.

Recently one of the long-term members of the group Charlie Waters, passed away after a short illness. As the music began, a montage of pictures of Charlie played on the enormous screens above the stage. The crowd, out of respect, rose to their feet to acknowledge his contributions to the world of music and to celebrate a friend most of us had never met.

As we both observed the tribute, and during the next fifteen minutes, as the group began what would be one of the best live performances I had ever experienced, I came for a concert. I received a lesson in grief as a bonus.

After a couple of songs, the remaining members paused to thank the crowd for all the notes and letters, emails, and tweets expressing their condolences on the loss of Charlie. As a result of this shared acknowledgment, I came away with yet another lesson in how and why it is important to grieve in a healthy way.

The first lesson that I learned is that we must find a way to absorb the initial blow. I often say that in many ways, nothing is surer than death; nothing has worst timing than death.

A couple of months before embarking on their most recent tour, Charlie informed the band that he would be unable to participate in this tour because of his health. Like in our lives, his absence would cause the group to adjust. They would have to work with a new drummer for the first time in decades. Would the beat be right, would the cadence line up, would the fans still like their music? All these and many more hurdles would have to be overcome.

When we lose someone that we love, we, just as they did, have to find the right beat, find a new cadence, possibly find a new way to be loved the same by what remains of our friends and family even. These and many more questions permeate our lives.

The second lesson was that paying the proper tribute helps in the healing process. By taking the time to pay tribute to Charlie, the group not only acknowledged but found a way of connecting their grief with our grief, thus recruiting us to join them in the healing process.

I have long believed and stated that we get no extra points for suffering in silence. Talking about and even paying proper tribute to our loved ones is both the right thing to do and the healthy and necessary thing to do. It, in most cases, does not make the pain go away, but it acknowledges that others suffered a measure of loss as well.

My third and final lesson from that evening was finding a way to move forward in excellence. The concert they gave was outstanding. Buoyed by a tribute to Charlie, they moved forward the best they could. Never the same, but doing their best with what remains. Isn’t what we are all tasked with, doing our best with what remains.

Some of us have and will find new loves and partnerships; some will not. But we must resolve to do our best with what remains. I am sure Charlie would want it that way.

You never know where a much-needed lesson will come from. I, for one, would like to thank Mick, Keith, Ronnie and of course Charlie for the lesson I received that evening.

Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at my newly redesigned thedebriefgroup365.com, where you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widow Support Network.

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