Grief and Loss: A Tribute to Tom Petty

Tribute to Tom Petty

It’s been a rough year in America with more than enough grief to go around. From hurricanes to massacres and everything in between, the weight of loss hangs heavy. So, what do you tell your kids?

I’m not an expert by any means. As I’ve said many times before, I’m doing the best I can with the information at hand and the experiences of my nearly forty years on this Earth. I’m not going to lie, either. This week has been tough. I’ve let my kids watch me experience every bit of it. We’ve talked a lot about the feelings and emotions tied to not only the massacre in Las Vegas but also the death of musician Tom Petty who has had a profound impact on my life. This is not an easy thing to explain given I never met the man.

The kids understood my horror and sadness over the Las Vegas massacre. They felt that, the utter disregard for  human life is appalling, even at their young ages. Then they saw me cry for another reason. Something a little more complicated for their minds to grasp.

I’m a writer. I spend the majority of my time creating – stories, worlds, characters, clothing, crafts – you name it. I listen to music for nearly everything I do. Partially because I am not musically inclined but respect the beauty of a good song as much as the way it can make me feel something so deep and awaken an idea with a few notes. To that end, I often include “playlists” that inspired a particular story, a soundtrack for that tale, if you will.

If I were to create a playlist for my life, a soundtrack of songs that represent me at various stages, I can assure you that 90% of it would be from Tom Petty’s body of work. When I say that he had a profound effect on my life, I mean it. To explain this to my children is a challenge but this is essentially what I told them as I sobbed for the loss of a brilliant musician. I said that Tom Petty’s music has been an accompaniment to my life since I was a little girl. It was easy to relay stories associated with almost any Tom Petty song we heard on the radio or in tributes across media. I think my children are starting to understand my grief over the loss of Tom Petty.

Then again, it’s hard to explain something I don’t fully understand myself. I never met the man yet I feel the loss of him as if he’d been a close friend for most of my life. He inspired me with his music, his words, his resolve and dedication.

This is not a flashy post. It doesn’t offer much by way of advice, but it is a snapshot of grief. The world can be an ugly place so we have to cling to whatever beauty we can find. Thank you, Tom Petty, for all of the beauty you brought into this world. You will be missed.