2021 Playlist

Belieber (urban dictionary): A fanbase for, the one and only, Justin Bieber

In our house, if you ask Alexa to play some relaxing music (I still can’t believe my husband brought that eavesdropping woman into our home, without my permission!), she frequently churns these songs out. But instead of helping me to relax, they do the opposite.

I’ve blogged previously about how some of the more innocuous lyrics, completely unrelated to grief or baby loss, now make my cry. But here are some lyrics which are far more explicit. Before recurrent baby loss, I’d never been heartbroken enough for a song to move me to tears, but songs which deal with heartbreak, of any kind, are the ones which touch me now.

With a lot of these, it’s not just the beautiful lyrics, but the way they’re sung (the Joey classic of “it’s not what you said, but the way you said it”), so I’d encourage you to listen to them, as you read. You can click the track titles, marked in pink, to assist with this.


TRACK 1: Pale Damp Cheeks, Etaoin

Tear off the bandage
But it still bleeds, it still bleeds

Try to hold it
But it still bleeds, it still bleeds

Pause for a second, love
For a second, love
It’s too deep, it still bleeds

This is a beautiful way to describe it, to sing it – grief, the wound that never heals. Summer died in March 2020 and yet, the opening words of this song make me cry, every time.

This is exactly the type of song I would have listened to at home, pre-recurrent baby loss. The old me would have relaxed to this, sung along, smiled in that moment, gone to the place where I used to go to when happy: gratitude. Now I’m just ‘happy’ to have someone sing it, exactly as I feel.

TRACK 2: Easy on me, Adele

There ain’t no gold in this river
That I’ve been washin’ my hands in forever
I know there is hope in these waters
But I can’t bring myself to swim
When I am drowning in this silence
Baby, let me in
Go easy on me, baby

Didn’t get the chance to
Feel the world around me

I know that this is a song about Adele’s divorce, but the first time I heard it, it made me think of baby loss and a couple’s struggle to find themselves after it. The first verse spoke to how I’ve been feeling – hopeful but hopeless – but by the time I reached the chorus, it was a reminder, that there are two people in this, which I’m not always the best at remembering. So in my head, sometimes she sings as me, sometimes for James, other times as Summer.

TRACK 3: Anyone, Justin Bieber

You are the only one I’ll ever love
Yeah, you, if it’s not you, it’s not anyone

Forever’s not enough time to
Love you the way that I want
‘Cause every morning I find you
I fear the day that I don’t

I feel the celebration, yet longing in this tune. For me, it’s bittersweet. It makes me feel pride for Summer. Weird, right? I mean, it’s JUSTIN BIEBER?! This guy is not singing about baby loss, and yet, that line about “I fear the day that I don’t” – that sums up my thinking of “what if one day, I’m ok with this?”. I can’t quite fully capture how that makes me feel. One day, I want to be at peace with these losses, but then that would be incredibly sad too. Bittersweet, indeed.

TRACK 4: 24/5, Mimi Webb

Haunted by your love, going on for 24/5

I let you change me
But you were the one to break me
And buried all my feelings underneath

Maybe, someday I won’t miss you
But right now it’s too heavy to breathe

Wish I could skip ahead to somewhere near the end
And maybe then I guess I’ll forget you ever left

This always seems to play on the radio when I’m out running (which is something I now always associate with grieving and healing) and so for the longest time, I didn’t know the actual lyrics and thought the chorus was “haunted by your love, going on for 24 months” – which is perfect for Summer, as it’ll be 24 months in March, since she was born/died.

I assume the song is about a bad breakup, but for me, it’s about Summer. I always say that it was the third loss that broke me; the one that really got me talking, blogging, confronting. But I also think that the healing will only come, when we’re at the end. Not of life, but our fertility ‘journey’ – whatever our family looks like then. I just wish I had that crystal ball.

TRACK 5: Ghost, Justin Bieber

Since the love that you left is all that I get
I want you to know that if I can’t be close to you
I’ll settle for the ghost of you
I miss you more than life

And if you can’t be next to me
Your memory is ecstasy
I miss you more than life

Yep, Bieber’s second entry into today’s 2021 grief catalogue: then I saw your face! now I’m a Belieber! – who knew?

This month, I went for a run on my birthday (I have never done THAT before. Guess it was my way to try to bag some of those post-run happy-hormones, whilst also sticking two fingers up to 36: trying to fight the losing race against time and more specifically, my aging eggs) and this was the first song that came on the radio.

I cannot help but hear this and think of Summer: “if I can’t be close to you, I’ll settle for the ghost of you, I miss you more than life”. No one, but the bereaved, know the depth of that statement: “I miss you more than life”.

People think that sounds suicidal, but it’s not that. It’s the reminder that we’re ready to go now, whenever. People fear death, when they worry about those they are leaving behind – in particular, their children. But what happens when the promise of potentially seeing people again, weigh heavily on the other side? What if there’s noone that really needs you here. Really think about it, you’re living for your children now, aren’t you? Who knew Justin Bieber could be so thought provoking?


TRACK 6: Remember, Becky Hill and David Guetta

I’m doing just fine now it’s over
I’ve been moving on and living my life
But occasionally I lose composure
And I can’t get you out of my mind

And just when I think I’m finally doing okay
That’s when I remember, that’s when I remember

Another running song, that takes my breath away. I think it’s the strength of the upbeat tune juxtaposed with the weakness portrayed in the lyrics. It sort of sums up, where I’m at. Generally, I’m doing miles “better”, especially compared to any point in 2020. And most people would think I’m pretty much normal now. I can hold, carry, hide it all better. I don’t need or want to talk about it all the time, to any or everyone. But the loss is always there. And sometimes it does still creep up on me and engulf me whole. An upbeat dance track, shouldn’t make you cry, should it? So yeah, this is a song that unarms me, fogs my brain, synonymous with grief. It feels like me.

TRACK 7: Better Days, Dermot Kennedy

I know you’ve been hurtin’
Waitin’ on a train that just won’t come
The rain, it ain’t permanent
And soon, we’ll be dancin’ in the sun

You’re on the other side of the storm now
You should be so proud
And better days are comin’
Better days are comin’ for you

Your story’s gonna change
Just wait for better days
You’ve seen too much of pain
Now, you don’t even know
That your story’s gonna change
Just wait for better days
I promise you, I won’t let go

I know you’ve been hurting
Waiting on a train that just won’t come
The rain, it ain’t permanent
And soon, we’ll be dancing in the sun
And we’ll sing your song together 

Some more positive songs are creeping in here, amidst the tears they elicit. It hurts because I want it to be true. I like the mantra effect of listening to this one. It sounds daft, but I feel like Dermot Kennedy is looking after, carrying, embracing, almost rocking me. And then when he cries out, it feels like it’s in empathy, that he feels it too. It’s the use of the word together. Altogether, it’s the lyrical equivalent of “I see you, you’ve got this”. So daft, but there’s something cathartic and trusting in this one.

TRACK 8: Merry Christmas, Ed Sheeran and Elton John

I know there’s been pain this year,
But it’s time to let it go
Next year, you never know
But for now, Merry Christmas

While we’re here, can we all
Spare a thought for the ones who have gone?

James frequently says there hasn’t been a decent new Christmas song, since Leona LewisI beg to differ. I developed quite a soft spot for Ed and Elton’s little number, this year, particularly the lyrics above.

For many, December is not the most wonderful time of the year, it’s a painful reminder of the people missing and the time passing. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Nah, it’s more like “ah, this old chestnut” – this was not our first childless December. And although I’m not openly saying “maybe next year”, I can’t help but hope. So I liked Ed’s gentle, yet hopeful, little “but for now, Merry Christmas”.

I won’t say too much about Christmas, because I got a lot of extra grief for it last year (and Ed and Elton are reminding me it’s time to let it go), but what I would say is, if you’ve not yet listened to the Queen’s short Christmas Day speech, do! In two particular sentences, Her Majesty really got to the heart of what I’ve been thinking about Christmas for years:

“Although it’s a time of great happiness and good cheer for many, Christmas can be hard for those who have lost loved ones. This year, especially, I understand why.”

I am sure someone somewhere today will remark that Christmas is a time for children. It’s an engaging truth, but only half the story”

You can listen, watch and/or read the full speech here.

TRACK 9: Memories, Maroon 5

There’s a time that I remember, when I did not know no pain
When I believed in forever, and everything would stay the same
Now my heart feel like December when somebody say your name
‘Cause I can’t reach out to call you, but I know I will one day

Here’s to the ones that we got
Cheers to the wish you were here, but you’re not
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
Of everything we’ve been through

Toast to the ones here today
Toast to the ones that we lost on the way
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
And the memories bring back, memories bring back you

Surely this song resonates with every person who’s lost a loved one? The drinks do indeed bring back the memories, which bring on the tears, which bring back you (indeed, too many drinks at my team Christmas lunch, did just this. My memories of Summer = colleagues crying. Sorry, not sorry). So perhaps this song is the best way to end the year, to end this playlist and to end this particular blog. Flipping heck, what an emotional one it’s been.

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