If you’re like me, you lost a loved one during the Pandemic.
Public news outlets have, understandably, had a plethora of resources come out in their coverage of Covid-19 physical effects, isolation measures, governmental policies and vaccination options. But very little has been said in the public news about the mental health effects of isolation, the emotional toll of worry and loss, or the emptiness many face as the world, slowly, begins to open up again.
Where the news industry left a gap, however, the music industry stepped in to fill it.
So many songs have come out this past year dealing with artists’ struggles with loneliness, isolation, depression, anxiety, fear, suffering, illness, emptiness, and loss. They were experiences that needed to be shared, and the sharing was healing. Support communities built around these songs and artists as, sometimes for the first time, people felt that they were seen, heard, and understood, even from beneath their masks or within the confines of their visitor-less quarantine rooms.
Now, with vaccination rates increasing, some places are beginning to loosen measures and open up again. The news often speaks of regaining “normalcy.” To be honest, I hate that expression. Firstly, because the “normal” we had before the Pandemic was not a healthy one, and one might hope to move forward into something better than what we had before. But mostly, because I lost a loved one during this Pandemic – my Grandma. And because of the Pandemic, I could not go to her when she was suffering; I could not be there when she died; I could not be with my family as they grieved; I could not attend her funeral; I could not visit her grave. And no matter how many things from before open back up, for me the world will never be the way it was before the Pandemic, because I face all these things now without her.
But thanks to musicians pouring out their hearts and sharing their experiences, I could find community and hope in those who face a similar experience.
On June 11, 2021, Toronto-based British singer-songwriter Michael Joseph Nelson, known as ‘BANNERS’ in the music world, released his newest song, “Serenade.” The song is basically a love-letter from the ones we have lost, honest, tender, hopeful, and encouraging. As Catholics, we are an Easter people. In Jesus, we believe in the Resurrection, and we believe in the Communion of Saints. And as all of us who have lost someone dear to us prepare to walk back alone into a world that we once shared with them, there is no better song that the Lord could provide to allow our loved ones to remind us:
“Let go, let go / Darling it’s over now
You’re on your own / But I’m on your shoulder, I
I’ll always be your serenade”
Michael Jospeh Nelson, BANNERS.
As Nelson explores in his song, the loss and absence of our loved ones is real. But our connection to them is not over, nor theirs to us. As Catholics, we are asked not only to bury the dead, but also to pray for them. And we believe that those who have gone to God before us pray for us as well. When we hear songs like “Serenade” that are so full of both raw honesty and real hope, the Lord reminds us that we are prayed for, and reminds us to pray, too. God reminds us that we are not alone, but that we and our loved ones are all held together in the palm of his hand, and together we are safe, loved, and alive in him.
“Serenade” by BANNERS can be found on all major music distribution platforms, and a live in-studio performance is available for streaming on YouTube. You can listen to the original track here: