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“Grieve” by Elissa Margolin: The Destructive Power of Grief

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“Let us grieve, grieve, grieve”

Opening the song with a plea, Elissa Margolin sets the melancholy tone for her song “Grieve” right away. By repeating “grieve” and coming back to this line several times throughout the song, the theme of grief is perpetually present. The repetition is also representative of being stuck in a cycle of grief. Grief is an encompassing feeling that is hard to see a way out of, or through. Margolin captures the confusing, overwhelming, and unending aspects of grief in this moving song.

With lines like “we’re talking to no one ’cause no one is home” and “I’m waving and waving and nobody’s there,” Margolin perfectly encapsulates the loneliness of grief. Everyone experiences grief, but the causes are often so specific and personal that it is hard to find any generalizability and companionship. A person in the depths of grief often grasps for solace that can only be provided by the person they’ve lost. These lines put into words the hopelessness of grief and the denial of those experiencing it.

“We’re praying to no one to know who we are”

Grief strips part of a person’s identity from them. This is particularly true when considering the loss of a loved one or the end of a relationship. People in our lives become a part of us and losing them changes you. You have to grieve them, but you also are left grieving the part of yourself that they took with them. Though it is not explicitly clear what kind of grief Margolin is experiencing, the references to no one being home and no one hearing her makes it seems like there is now a hole in her life left by a person she loved. 

“The sky is deceiving

The moon’s where the sun’s supposed to be”

The confusing aspects of grief are hard to describe, but several lines throughout the song represent them well. Grief makes everything seem wrong and upside down- like the moon is where the sun should be. It’s hard to keep track of time and even harder to make sense of time when you are aware of it. Another great line about this idea is “the band has forgotten the key.” Life feels out of time and out of tune, because the person that made life make sense is gone.

Margolin also seems to reference some of the stages of grief: bargaining through prayer, denial in the form of “talking to no one” because it is hard to accept “no one is home,” and even anger, through an “angry man” that seems to be in control of Margolin’s situation. Perhaps she is alluding to a higher power, or just the idea that her own anger is running the show, but it is clear Margolin feels out of control and consumed by her grief. A glimmer of acceptance comes through in the refrain “let us grieve,” where we see Margolin is willing to sit with her feelings and hopefully, eventually, get through them.

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