Monday, November 11, 2019

Voices of Experience: Grieving through Songwriting

We're luckiest if we feel an empty space; the silence, the void that only you'd erase. Because with this, we had the gift of having you.  ~ Rachel Leycroft, Warrior

by Rachel Leycroft

My journey to this point has felt like the most profound combination of painful and beautiful. I battled severe depression for most of my life. Over the years, having never processed all of the pain I carried, the depression diagnosis began collecting some of its well-known companions: anxiety, OCD, anorexia and body dysmorphia. Some say that once we hit rock bottom, the only direction to go is up. Kristoff and I crossed paths when I began taking my first steps above rock bottom.

Kristoff fought his own battles with the traumatic suicide of his son Julian in 2017. He and I were both lucky enough to seek healing in the same place, and  found tranquility in one another’s support and  kindness. He had a beautiful willingness to vulnerably share his struggle, and  created a safe and  empathic space for mine. The second I saw the look on my mom's face the morning of February 3rd, 2019, I knew something wasn't okay. I immediately asked her what was wrong, and  she replied with, "Honey, I'm so sorry." She handed me her phone where I saw the news of Kristoff's unexpected passing. I was flooded with shock, disbelief, deep many emotions at once. It felt beyond unfair. He remained so kindhearted, loving and  hopeful despite the immense emotional pain he had to encounter in his life. How could this be his end? 

Wanting to somehow connect with his memory, I picked up my phone to revisit our last text exchanges-- his last words to me. I cannot fully explain how astounding it felt to reflect on what he wrote. It was as though he knew it would be his final goodbye, even though neither of us could have ever imagined it at the time. He possessed such admirable optimism, stating, "I stand in awe of life. However brief, it is magical." He ended the text with these beautiful words, reflecting on our time in treatment together: "I felt your pain, and  reveled in your happy moments. I am here if you need me." It was as though he was telling me he would look out for me even when his physical presence was gone. 

Feeling helpless, I sent a text message to his phone, unsure if anyone would ever see it. A portion of it read, "If anyone can receive this, I just want you to know how incredibly impactful Kristoff was on my life. He had to endure such pain and  somehow still provided the rarest of light to those he crossed paths with. I’m so grateful to have known him. I’m heartbroken to think of the pain your family has had to experience and now this new, excruciating journey of going through life without him. No matter what, please know that my heart reaches out to all of you. Kristoff truly wasn’t finished sharing his beautiful spirit with the world." To my surprise, his 15-year-old daughter replied, thanking me. She said that my text was the only one she answered, and  she didn't know why, but she felt drawn to me and  my message. That in itself felt like the first of many synchronicities Kristoff would leave for me. 

My overwhelming grief was the driving force behind what drew me to the piano that day. I allowed myself to feel the deep sadness, despite how uncomfortable it felt and  how much I wanted to run from it. I allowed my grief to flood over me and  through to my fingertips as I sat at the piano and  played. I could barely see through my tears and  needed to repeatedly stop for tissues, but somehow, as if on autopilot, wove Kristoff's last words into a song. In all other circumstances, the song I wrote for Kristoff wouldn't have left my notebook pages, but I felt the undeniable need to bring it to life in the recording studio as a gift to his daughter. Warrior was the first song I ever recorded, and  my life has changed in the most mystical of ways since then. I fell in love with recording my songs and  realized that there can be a beautiful purpose in sharing them with the world (something I never thought I would do). I started a project called #lovethroughlyrics where I share my music along with the knowledge that has helped me through my darkest times. Each song touches on different areas of mental health, and  I have begun showing younger generations how to express themselves creatively and therapeutically through songwriting. I wholeheartedly believe that Kristoff has had a hand in all of this and  that he is ever-present throughout my days. I will be forever grateful to him and  strive to approach life in a way that he would be proud of. 

About the Author: Rachel Leycroft began piano lessons at seven years old and found her voice through songwriting at 13. While in the midst of grief and battling mental health struggles, Rachel had hoped to one day help others with the lessons she was learning. The driving force behind Rachel’s music is her desire to evoke compassion toward ourselves and one another by sharing vulnerable experiences with the hope of encouraging connection and authenticity. Despite the serious messages her lyrics often convey, she focuses her production style on creating an enchanting and bright experience for the listener. Rachel hopes to accentuate the commonality of the human experiences we all share, both painful and beautiful, regardless of who we are or which lens we see the world through. Her greatest wish is that the stories told within her songs provide hope and a source of connection for those who listen. She is an advocate for mental health and dedicates time to supporting those who are struggling. Connect with Rachel at and follow the #lovethroughlyrics journey via Instagram:

The lyrics to Kristoff's song, Warrior, are included below.
You can listen to Warrior (original and acoustic) on any music platform here:

Lyrics: Warrior 
© 2019 Rachel Leycroft
The brightest light touched on everything you crossed
despite the fight you battled into the dark.
You gave your soul with little left for you behind
and held your hope with such little left to find.
And in a moment, nothing’s the same.
And we are left to endure the pain
of all that’s missing, starting today.
And it’s the greatest feat.
Your passion, love and peace...made the world change.
You said life holds magic, even if brief.
You said we establish our own journey.
You told me I’m a warrior, as long as I believe.
You said you’re here if I need. I wish it were that easy.
‘Cause not a soul was ready for you to leave...
And I know you weren’t ready to leave.
We’re luckiest if we feel an empty space;
the silence, the void that only you’d erase.
Because with this, we had the gift of having you.
We’ll try to live the way you tried your best to do.
And in a moment, nothing makes sense,
and we are left to make sense of it.
And all that’s missing is forever missed.
And it’s the greatest feat,
but when we dream, we’ll meet...and you’ll be your happiest.
I know your girls are desperately missing you;
and all the world, too, but maybe Julian needed you.
And just like him, you left us all too soon...
but it’s impossible to forget you.
(But you’re a warrior on your new journey.)

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below. If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSign up here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome!