How Music Has Helped Me Heal

Through miscarriages, a stillbirth, and adoption heartbreaks, music has always been there for me.

Kenna Shumway May 27, 2016
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“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind, and gives it rest.  It heals the heart and makes it whole.”

Since I can remember, music has been an integral part of my life. When I was seven or eight years old, I had a portable cassette tape player. I popped in my Janet Jackson tape, put on my earphones, and belted out the lyrics to “Escapade,” “Miss You Much,” and “Rhythm Nation.”

Then, for Christmas one year, my parents bought me a “boom box” with a 5-disc changer.  Along with that sweet boom box, I got albums by Boys II Men, Mariah Carey, and Alanis Morisette. (I don’t think my parents checked out the lyrics to some songs on that album, whoops!) My love for music kept growing. I went through a killer boy band phase when I was 12, listening to sweet tunes from “Hanson,” “Backstreet Boys,” and “N*Sync.” Let’s be honest, I STILL listening to these albums. I’m also going to let you in on some magical information. Hanson, the prepubescent boy band who brought us “Mmm Bop”, still puts out music and it’s AMAZING.  Trust me on this.

As I walked through the awkward and murky waters of middle and high school, music was my solace. I had different playlists, all labeled after different emotions, to help me get through life. My playlists ranged from “seriously so happy” to “teenage angst.” I still have these playlists, along with dozens more, that I listen to when I’m in corresponding moods.

I once read on Tumblr (I know, right? Quoting something off of Tumblr) that “If someone ever tells you a certain song is important to them, you should turn it up and lay on your bed and close your eyes and really listen to it. Even if it’s 10 minutes long, because at the end you will know that person much better I think.”

I have always felt like song lyrics speak my emotions when I can’t find the words. When my best friend asks how I’m feeling, and I can’t find a way to describe it, I send her a few song lyrics and a link to the song. Then, like the amazing friend she is, she takes the time to listen and understand what is going on in my head and heart.

During my infertility journey, I have found that when nothing else can comfort me, music can. It’s music that makes me feel understood, safe, and grounded. When all the emotions are drowning my heart and my head can’t figure out why, music can. Certain songs can evoke a much needed crying session, provide comfort, or even allow me to gallop into a wooden glen and punch-dance out my rage. (Hot Rod FTW) Certain songs are tied to different parts of my journey. The band Nevertheless and their song “Oh Child” is tied to when we lost our daughter at five months’ gestation. The artist Plumb and her song, “In My Arms” reminds of the emotions felt after each miscarriage. It’s not all sad or angsty emotions. Michael Buble’s song, “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet” reminds me of when we were in the finding process of adoption. Then, when we brought Harley home, I would often listen to Sugarland’s, “Stuck Like Glue.” So much, in fact, that Harley learned all the lyrics!

Music is the way to understand myself, my brain, and my heart.

“Your heart is just a beatbox for the song of your life.” – Sandi Thom

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Kenna Shumway

Wife. Adoptive mom. Writer. Photographer. Endometriosis survivor, infertility warrior & adoption advocate. Rock star on weekends. Currently calls Ohio home with her pharmacist husband and their ginger son. Read more from her on her blog.


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