A very personal story of grief. Rachel channelled her grief into songwriting after the sudden death of a dear friend. She explains how music and lyrics have helped her come to terms with loss.
The Art of Dying Well team often receive messages from those who have benefited from the resources within our website. We were recently delighted to hear from Rachel Leycroft, who got in touch to thank us for our podcast in particular. She had a very personal story to share about grief, having found herself trying to cope after the sudden death of a dear friend. Rachel channelled her sadness and grief into songwriting, and is keen to share her story in the hope that others may find comfort in her experience.
“My grief journey has felt like the most profound combination of painful and beautiful. Kristoff and I crossed paths when we sought healing from our own personal battles, mine depression-related, and his relating to the tragic loss of his son to suicide in 2017. We were lucky enough to seek healing in the same place, and found tranquility in mutual support and kindness. Kristoff had a beautiful willingness to vulnerably share his struggle, and created a safe and empathic space for mine.”
“His unexpected death on the morning of February 3rd, 2019 flooded me with shock, disbelief and deep sadness. It felt beyond unfair. He had remained so kindhearted, loving and hopeful despite the immense emotional pain he had to encounter in his life.”
“Wanting to connect with his memory, I picked up my phone to revisit our last text exchanges. It felt like he somehow knew those words would be his final goodbye. 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 together: ‘I felt your pain, and revelled in your happy moments. I am here if you need me.’ It feels 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.”
“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 on the day he died. I allowed my sadness to flood over me as I sat at the piano and played. Somehow, as if on autopilot, Kristoff’s last words were woven into a song. In all other circumstances, the song I wrote for him 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 so many ways since then. I realized that there can be a beautiful purpose in sharing my songs publicly (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.”
The lyrics to Kristoff’s song, Warrior, are included below.
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.)
© 2019 Rachel Leycroft
You can listen to Warrior (original and acoustic) on any music platform here.
Connect with Rachel and follow the #lovethroughlyrics journey via Instagram.
About the Author: Rachel Leycroft began piano lessons at seven years old and found her voice through songwriting at thirteen. 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. She 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.