Turn Off The Radio

Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):

I love music. Music can carry me into a different place, different mindset, even a different decade. To this day when I hear "Return of the Mac" my mind is immediately catapulted back to my senior year of high school. All the memories of 1997 flood my mind. Good (my BFF), bad (my hair & clothing), and ugly (my hair & clothing). Music is like a time machine for me. It makes me think of places, occasions and people, which can hold both sweetness and sorrow. Not regret, but sorrow. That's why after my Dad's suicide I turned the radio off for five months. 

Here's what made me decide to turn off the radio:

It was the day after Father's Day, June 20, 2005. We were setting up the visitation room at the funeral home. Taking fifty or so of our favorite photos of Dad to set up in the room. Since there was no body to view/say goodbye to, we thought bringing some of Dad's favorite things to the funeral home was the best way for people to remember Jerry Don the way he would want them to remember him. So when the funeral director asked us what music we wanted playing as we received visitors, my mom, sister and I looked at each other and laughed..."Uh, do you have any Pink Floyd?" The funeral director was nervous and not amused, but we were, and we were on a mission. We went through all of Dad's favorite CD's and we picked out one of his all-time faves. We could have chosen so many artists and so many songs. If we had had the time to plan for this tragic occasion, the soundtrack to Dad's funeral would have run a gamut from Pink Floyd's "The Wall" to "The Old Rugged Cross" and back to Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again."  But what Jenni and I chose as the soundtrack to the funeral visitation following my Dad's death was Aerosmith's "1980's Greatest Hits." How perfect. 

A few days later I was driving down the road listening to some "oldies" station and Aerosmith's "Dream On" began playing and I began weeping so violently that I had to pull the car over so I didn't cause a wreck. And that's when I decided to turn off the radio. 

I did not want a song or a slew of songs from the summer of 2005 to become the music that would forever take me back to that heartbreaking place. So I turned off the radio. If I found myself in someone else's car, I would play DJ and skim radio stations until I found an oldies station, or at least an "80's & 90's Soft Rock" station. I could handle the music that made me think of/remember my Dad, even when I was on the side of the road sobbing to "Dream On." But I didn't want any of the current music playing to be the songs that took me back to the darkest place I'd ever been, the grief of losing my Dad. 

For me, it was a good choice. Maybe for you or for someone you know going through a recent loss, listening to new music is healing. So for you I say, listen to new music. But for me the best thing was turn off the radio. The best thing was to listen to old music. Or to have silence where I could pray and turn my thoughts, fears, and quiet moments into moments where God could pour healing into me. I listened to sermons. I listened to a lot of Beth Moore on CD! That's what helped me. 

Do what helps you. But definitely embrace the silence. Turn the radio off for one car ride. I did it for five months and it eased my mind. 

Keep going. 


Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.