"Grief doesn't have to be something that just hits you when you're not ready for it."
When you lose a loved one, the grief can sometimes feel impossible to bear. Time may help to soften the initial blow, but grieving is an up-and-down process without a specific trajectory or timeline. Some small thing can happen to trigger a memory—a song, a sound, a smell—and a wave of grief can hit without warning.
But is there a way to proactively manage grief rather than just react to it? According to singer and songwriter Andy Grammer, there can be, and it's really quite lovely.
If you don't know, Grammer is the multi-platinum recording artist behind a slew of uplifting hits such as "Keep Your Head Up," "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)," and "Lease on Life." He's known for his positive, optimistic songwriting, which might lead some to assume he's not experienced a painful loss. On the contrary, Grammer's mother, Kathy, passed away from breast cancer when he was 25, and her death rocked his world.
He's written about her in many of his songs, but he also takes an approach to grief that he refers to as "going on offense."
In an interview on Podcrushed, Grammer explained what he means by that.
"If I see someone that's the same age as my mother in front of me in line, I'll go on offense and I'll be like, 'Hey, I lost my mom and I don't get to buy her stuff. Would you mind if I bought your coffee?' I'll just live that way. And when you live that way, crazy stuff happens."
He shared a story as an example.
Grammer was eating breakfast at a cafe in Boston back in 2018 near where he was playing a show. He saw a group of women about his mom's age at a table and had that feeling that he wanted to buy their breakfast. He hesitated because it was so close to the venue he was playing and he didn't want to seem like he was doing something nice to draw attention to himself, but the feeling persisted.
"Finally, I just give into it and I walk over and I say, 'Listen, my mom passed away. One of the things I like to do for her is just pay for women's breakfasts sometimes. It would mean a lot to me…if you would just let me pay for your breakfast this morning.' The lady on the left just starts bawling. And she says, 'I lost my son. He was about your age.' So we both stand up and I'm just like bawling with a stranger."
The worst thing that can happen when you stay open and follow those inner promptings, Grammer says, is that you feel stupid sometimes if someone responds like you're being weird. But most of the time, that's not the reaction.
"I dare everyone to live and to play with it," he said. "Grief doesn't have to be something that just hits you when you're not ready for it."
He suggests to people who are grieving the loss of someone to think of something specific about that person, something they did or something they loved, and go out and offer that thing to other people.
"Their thing was to make bread? Set days and make bread and give it out. Go on offense to be a part of it, and get this really sweet feeling of remembering them."
Watch how he explains:
Go on offense with grief 🖤 #grief #loss #lossofaparent
Grammer's approach really resonated with people who have lost loved ones themselves.
"I don’t who this man is but I just lost my dad who just turned 60 and I struggle so much with it. I’m sobbing at how beautiful this approach is," shared one person.
"Lost my dad to the pandemic and this feels like this thinking I might be a game changer for me. Thank you," wrote another.
"I’m so utterly affected by this conversation. It speaks to healing with community by giving ourselves permission to connect with others," shared another.
"Thank you. My mom died two years ago and I’m so tired of people telling me to get over it and move on. I want to celebrate her all the time," someone else added.
"THIS IS SO GOOD. I lost my mom too and could not agree more. I’ve never heard it explained like 'offense' love it ❤️❤️," added another.
Grammer and the hosts of Podcrushed went deeper into grief processing in their full conversation. You can listen to the Podcrushed episode with Andy Grammer here.