I once heard Dick Clark say that we each have a soundtrack to our lives. Recently, I’ve been listening to the “'80s on the 8” station on Sirius-XM radio and letting those songs take me back in time to a different point in my life (with '80s music, that mostly means high school).


Just as songs can transport us to a different time and place, they can remind us of our loved ones and the bond we still share with them. Hearing a special song can spark memories and bring comfort. But songs can also be seen as signs, reminders that our loved ones are still with us. We hear certain songs at particular times to remind us that our loved ones are still part of our lives.


Not long before she died, my sister Denise sang part of the Garth Brooks' song “Rodeo” in a talk she gave for her advanced speech class. Her rodeo speech was videotaped and is one of the few videos we have of her (she died in 1993, long before cell phones made capturing the moment on video so easy).


At the time of Denise's death, I was still in my country music phase and each time I heard “Rodeo” I knew she was near. As the years went by and I returned to my pop roots, I didn't hear “Rodeo” as often. Occasionally I caught it when I was in a store or changing radio stations. One time I was driving down Highway 1 in Malibu, California trying to find a station that wasn’t fuzzy, when “Rodeo” came on. I knew in that moment Denise was with me.


The special songs we share with loved ones are varied. But for each of us, songs and the memories and experiences wrapped up with them continue to keep us connected to the person who has died. Hold onto them and enjoy them. They are yours to keep.


Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D., is an international author and speaker about finding hope after loss and change. She is President of the American Association of Suicidology and author of several books including Rocky Roads: The Journeys of Families through Suicide Grief and Ginger's Gift: Hope and Healing Through Dog Companionship. Her first book, based on the suicide of her younger sister Denise, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Si..., inspired siblings around the world in their survival after a loved one’s suicide. Read more about Michelle at www.michellelinngust.com.


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