The experience of grief can include rapidly fluctuating, intense feelings such as depression, hopelessness, anger, apathy, frustration, and fear. For many of us, it will be the closest we come to feeling totally, completely unhinged, groundless, and alien to the whole world, including ourselves.
R.E.M.’s song “Everybody Hurts” opens,
When your day is long and the night
The night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life, well hang on
Don’t let yourself go
Everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes
This heartfelt song of understanding is a reminder that while we all suffer, we need not suffer alone. While we feel distant from ourselves and the life we once knew, we can take solace in knowing that we are all in this human experience together, sharing a common language of love, loss, and growth through experience.
Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it’s time to sing along
Take comfort in your friends
While the lyrics are simple, the message is potent: Because life is hard, and we all experience the pain of taking things to heart that do not last, we can become more powerfully expansive when our hearts are broken open in good company. This is a particularly powerful message in light of recent events in the public sphere that reinforce a grief-phobic cultural sickness, such as discounted “bereavement fares” being eradicated by airlines.
As the end of the music video below demonstrates, the simple creation of understanding across isolated experiences of suffering alone can shift culture in miraculous ways.
Find the full lyrics here.