Songwriting as Healing Art

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I kissed your head

Told you I loved you, ’cause I wanted

You to know just how much that you impacted

My life, so much more than I could ask for

This is not good-bye, and yes, I will cry but that’s ’cause I miss your face

This is not good-bye, I know I’ll see you on the other side some day

This is not good-bye

I held your hand

We praised and we prayed with all we had

With every second and every minute you breathed

You are a fighter to me

I dedicate this song to you

The mother who taught me all I know

How to walk, how to talk, how to write and how to cry How to pray everyday

-Ceci Frost, “This Is Not Good-Bye” (March 2009)

That was me: raw, open, and vulnerable. These were the words that so easily spilled out of my mouth. These were the feelings that were tugging at my core. I wrote this song during the first two weeks after losing my mom. I remember sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom with my guitar in my arms. I was at a loss for words and feelings. These lyrics symbolized a conversation between my mom and me. The song was also grief medication for the soul. In the midst of numbness and zombie-like emotions, I had to tell myself repeatedly what I knew. Where there was fogginess, questions, emptiness, and sadness, I had to tell myself there was love, legacy, inspiration, and a future. The future was extremely hard to picture at this point. Singing these lyrics over and over again to my soul was reassuring myself that the last eighteen years of my life were real. This is real, and although it’s devastating, I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have had a mom like her.

During times like these, your mind and your concept of time start to play tricks on you. It messes with you, and at moments, I felt crazy. Two weeks in, I was wrestling with flashbacks and dreams. I guess maybe I was looking for something tangible in those moments to explain things. I wanted to make sense of events and grasp the timeline of the past couple of weeks.

It felt as though I had just hugged her, saw her, and talked to her the other day, and now I will never do any of those things again. That was hard to comprehend. I was frustrated that I hadn’t seen her more the past three months during college. At times, I was kind of upset at the Lord because I felt like college—in San Dimas, CA—was where I was supposed to be, yet it was during my mom’s last months with us. If I knew I was going to lose her, I wouldn’t have moved away! But looking back, I honestly think I was where I was supposed to be. God knew what kind of people I would need in my life to help me fight the daily struggle. I was super thankful, though, for the times I met my mom and dad in Santa Monica while she was in a clinical trial program.

It’s no coincidence that what brought my mom comfort during cancer was the same thing that brought me comfort after she passed away. Music. I couldn’t agree more when she blogged and said, “Music has a way of speaking to my spirit and refreshing it.”

Music was how I coped with loss. It’s actually how I coped with everything once I started learning how to play guitar and piano. I listened to it, I played it, and I wrote it.

I could record an album of just the songs I wrote during the first year of my grief journey. After every song I wrote, I felt relieved and lighter, as if the words were a weighty burden lifted off of me. The weight of the world that I felt I had to carry was blown away. Lyrics were the beat to my grieving heart. Later on, I felt as though my lyrics helped other hearts to sing and breathe as well, especially at my mom’s memorial.

We decided to have a memorial instead of a funeral for my mom because we wanted to focus more on honoring her than the fact that she had passed away. She was full of life, so we were sure she wouldn’t want it any other way. I created a picture slideshow for the memorial, and we had lots of help putting together the handouts, setting up, cleaning up, and attending the reception.

Nothing in me wanted to speak at the memorial. On top of that, I didn’t feel like I had anything to say at the moment, but I did have something to sing. I wanted to be a part of the service somehow, because I wanted to honor my mom. I decided to sing one of my originals, “Tell Me How to Trust,” that I wrote during the second time my mom found out she had cancer (lung cancer). The song is full of hard questions that I asked the Lord when I was struggling with what to feel about the cancer returning.

There isn’t a whole lot I remember about the memorial, but I do remember singing. As I was up on stage, I couldn’t see people’s faces because my eyes were fighting back tears. Singing that song in front of everyone became more of a conversation between God and me, like no one else was around. I don’t remember many words that were exchanged that day, but altogether, the day felt like one giant hug. It was overwhelming and beautiful how many people showed up to honor, respect, and say “See you later” to my mom. I believe there were about three hundred people that came that day.

Tell me how to trust when it feels like your world’s falling apart

Tell me how to trust when it feels like your world’s crashing down

Tell me how to trust when you don’t even want to talk to God

Tell me, tell me, tell me now

Now I know the way you make me feel when I trust

You make me feel like I can make it, when it seems like there’s no possible way

You make me feel like today will be better than yesterday

Tell me how to trust when you don’t even want to stand up tall

Tell me how to trust when it seems too dark and you can’t see the wall

Tell me how to trust when it feels like nothing’s going right

Tell me, tell me, tell me now

This is my simple thank you song, thank you.

“Tell Me How to Trust”

 

Ceci Frost

More Articles Written by Ceci

I am born and raised in southern California, and I love it! I am a beach and hiking kind of girl. I grew up doing extreme sports, starting little business, and writing books for fun. I graduated from Life Pacific College in Fall ’11 and immediately moved to Israel to help lead a study abroad program for 4 months. It was an amazing cultural experience, where I got to dabble with traveling blogging. After living overseas I moved to Oklahoma to test out a long distance relationship, I stayed for 3 ½ years. Transitioning out of Oklahoma with my “Okie” husband, we remodeled a 60’s trailer and road-tripped around the country for 4 ½ months with our two cats. We had the time of our lives! Check out our trip: joyward.wordpress.com Now we are back in Ventura County, pursuing writing, photography, and a beverage business for the local farmers markets in hopes of starting a coffee shop. When people ask me if I have siblings I usually give them my book business card because, “…it’ll take awhile to explain.” I was my mom’s only child but I have many step and half siblings. Throughout my life my mom battled with cancer, she had it three separate times. She was my best friend. Her personality was that of an encourager, and people lover. She made everyone feel special. When she passed away my world was shocked. I want nothing more than to help others heal properly after loss, never feel alone, and live with hope.

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  • Tami Wood says:

    Thank you for your open heart. I came across your article randomly and was very inspired by you. I am a singer song writer as well, and lost my mom in January of this year. I have wrote one songoing since. Her death was unexpected and shocked me and many. She was dynamic. Her death was like a massive earthquake that is having many aftershocks. Anyway, I haven’t been doing well. Reading your blog was encouraging to me and gives me inspiration. Just wanted to let you know. Thank you again.

    Tami

    • Ceci Frost says:

      Hello Tami!
      Thank you so much for sharing, I’m immensely sorry for the loss of your mom, and that you have to go through all this. I wish I could send you a hug! I love that you are a song writer! Keep it up, I found so much healing in letting myself be honest with myself and just write.

      I would like to invite to my Facebook group called Hope Collective, it’s for women of all ages who have lost a mom. It’s just a place i create for people to connect, relate, be honest, and open: https://www.facebook.com/groups/950455608360942/

      I have some songs on my site if you want to check them out: http://mkt.com/hhwbook
      I’d love to hear your songs!