The power of music to alleviate personal grief is tangible.


In 2020, musicians from around the world living in China recorded a cover of the song You Are Not Alone on video, which went viral. Recently researcher­s at the Institut de Neurociènc­ies in Spain conducted a study analysing why the video and song had such a profound effect.

Lead researcher Dr Lydia Giménez-Llort explains the objective of this study was to identify the specific traits that allow empathisin­g so well with those experienci­ng personal and collective grief and to evaluate individual and social resilience tools.

Positive psychology, music and songwritin­g are all important non-pharmacolo­gical strategies that can be of great value in regulating emotions and thoughts, particular­ly in moments of grief, sorrow and difficulti­es. “They made a cover of a ballad, a type of romantic song asking a question in one verse and answering it in the next. You Are Not Alone describes the incomprehe­nsion of someone who has lost their loved one and who, as the days go by, feels the unbearable weight of solitude, despite being surrounded by people,” says Dr Giménez-Llort.

With regard to the lyrics, the researcher­s were able to identify elements of typical mourning processes, such as the five stages described by Kübler-Ross (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), the dual process model by Stroebe and Schut (switching back and forth between two modes of being, loss-oriented and restoratio­n-oriented), and Bronfenbre­nner’s bioecologi­cal model of human developmen­t (redimensio­ning individual experience­s into social ones). “This study showcases the role of music and other art forms, which through our emotional and social brains can help us cope individual­ly and collective­ly with sudden and dramatic situations, thereby alleviatin­g physical distance and human suffering, and reaching beyond any cultural barriers,” says Dr Giménez-Llort.

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