Singer Melissa Etheridge has just written a memoir, Talking to My Angels, that includes revealing her grieving process after losing her son in 2020 to an opioid overdose. In a recent appearance on “Good Morning America,” Etheridge said her son’s death was one of the reasons she wanted to write the memoir.
Writing the memoir helped her with her grief, Etheridege said, in several ways:
- Memoir is a vehicle for responding to people’s curiosity about you. Because Etheridge is a celebrity, she knew there would be questions about the circumstances surrounding her son’s death. “I knew as time went on that I would need to answer the questions, and I wanted to,” she said. “I’ve never really run away from truth, or life, as it’s happened, and I knew that I would need to explain this. So I thought that this might be a good time to do a book, so I can explain to people how I handled an addiction in the family, a death from the addiction in the family, and how we all got through it.”
- For people going through something similar, memoir is a way to let them know they’re not alone. Etheridge explained, “I have seen, and know about, many parents who take on such a huge guilt and shame when one of their children becomes addicted, and has this problem, and dies from—this was fentanyl—and more and more this is happening. It can happen in any family. But the guilt and shame that so many take on…can really stop your own life.” She added that the person you lost doesn’t want you to stop your own life.
- The process of writing is healing. Writing is “such a great healer,” she said. “To get it out…to then move on from it, not to just tell it over and over but to move on and say, ‘Yes, this happened.’”
- Memoir teaches authors about themselves. “I have learned so much,” Etheridge said. “I learned how much I loved. Learning that can be so exhilarating. Wow, I loved that much that I hurt that much. And I love being human.”
Some of our Write My Memoirs members are finding a kind of solace just as Melissa Etheridge did—by writing out the facts of something unpleasant or tragic that happened to them and connecting with readers through their feelings about that time in their life. They’re discovering how powerful memoir is as a healing agent.