Finding the Strength to Live Again

I am Jenny McGregor, I live in Sydney, and music has always played a vital role in my life. From a young age, I’ve been drawn to music and loved how powerfully music can affect a moment and impact a memory.

I started playing piano aged 7, but never fully enjoyed the lessons until my dad showed me how to compose. With this new realisation that I could create music, I fell head-over-heels in love.

As the story often goes, I let go of my passion for a considerable number of years, due to the idea it was too hard; I would never make a proper living from music, and I wasn’t good enough.

During this time, I met my husband Ben, married and soon we were expecting our first child. I was thrust into the world of morning sickness, a growing belly and taking extra special care of myself, but all the while I was so very excited for this new chapter in my life.

Our son Jamie was born on 25th May 2009, and my heart had never before been so full of love and joy. He was perfect in every way and I cried with happiness, the first time we bathed him at the hospital. Never before have I experienced such strong feelings of love and connection. I remember the night he was born, I awoke in the hospital bed suddenly, only to remember I had just had a baby. I looked to the side of my bed to see Jamie where he was laying in his bassinet, to find him staring right back at me, wide-eyed and completely content. This was an incredible moment of connection and the start of a beautiful relationship that continued for 18 wonderful months.

The night Jamie died, suddenly and unexpectedly is etched into my mind. On November 26th 2010, my husband put Jamie to bed, unbeknownst to him, it was to be the last time he ever would. I was at Sydney Children’s hospital helping my sister in law with my new born nephew who had been diagnosed with a serious heart condition, when I received the call from my husband that he was in an ambulance on the way to hospital with Jamie; Jamie’s heart had stopped beating and he wasn’t breathing.

Panicked and confused I raced to the hospital where Jamie had been taken, and arrived to a chaotic scene to find his little body surrounded by medical professionals. Their faces looked tense and concerned and I knew it was bad. After many hours, Jamie was pronounced dead at 11pm.

My world turned upside down in an instant. It was like I was dreaming; like I was floating in an unreal bubble of hell, my mind kept telling me that the bubble would soon burst to reveal that this was not really happening. That never happened. Instead, my husband and I were thrust into a world of grief, confusion and utter despair… our precious boy was gone forever!

The days and months that followed were unbearable as we trudged through the thick mud of grief that comes with losing a child. Thoughts of utter confusion, thoughts of anger, thoughts of suicide… the pain was unbearable.

Little by little we learned to comprehend our fate and better yet accept it. However, the loss of a child never leaves you and it changes you forever. Slowly, slowly we learnt how to integrate into the world again, however our hearts were forever changed.

Eight years on, I can now say with utter conviction that I am grateful for the love and wisdom Jamie has given me. His death lead me to question everything in my life- in particular my identity. After all, I woke up that fateful morning a mother, and that very same night, he died (was I still a mother?)… it made me question everything I had ever clung to in my life.

I found great comfort and wisdom in Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now” and I came to see the beauty of acceptance and surrender. This drew me closer to the idea of creating my own reality and being responsible for the outlook I had.

With this in mind, I finally decided to play music again- something I had left behind many years ago. I realised it had always been calling me and I should play regardless of any outcome. Music has always been my passion, and I finally saw a purpose for my music.

During my darkest days, I turned to music; music is a Universal language that speaks to everyone no matter what their background or culture. However, I was saddened to find a huge lack in music written about or by other bereaved parents. There was the odd song here or there, but most songs I listened to were about breakups or loss of a parent/spouse. During my time of grief, I deeply longed to connect with other bereaved parents. I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone and I wanted to know that there was hope for a better day.

This is what inspired me to create my album, ‘Love and Let Go’- a journey of grief and hope. I wanted to share my own journey with other bereaved parents; I wanted them to connect through music to a journey so unique and life-changing and to see that there is hope beyond the dark cloud of child loss.

The album is a complete journey of my grief process. The creation of this album was a great source of healing and exploration for me, yet I hope it can offer some sense of comfort, connection and support to others facing the same fate. It is available FOR FREE to any bereaved parent, as I believe grieving parents and families deserve free access to resources and materials that can slightly help with the pain. All proceeds of the album are going to the charity Red Nose (formerly SIDS and Kids), who helped my husband and I greatly during our darkest days.

Since it’s official release on 23rd Feb 2018, the feedback has been incredible. One bereaved parent wrote, “I am so honoured to have supported such a wonderful and needed cause; the album is nothing short of stunning. It will help countless other parents who are already missing their child, as well as the many that are still to come,”

Another bereaved parent said, This album has reminded me that its okay to grieve, to feel the way I feel, and that its also okay to keep trying to get on with life...so if youre a grieving parent, or somebody close to you is, please consider buying this beautiful album, I know its helping me.

Life is a curious thing- we generally think we have complete control. However, I have come to learn that life comes with many twists and turns; we are often thrown completely out of our comfort zone. I realise now that the circumstances are not the part of life we need to concern ourselves with… it’s how we choose to perceive these circumstances and how we choose to deal with them and continue with our life, that truly matters. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my precious boy, Jamie; I long to hold him in my arms again. However, I now see that there is a greater plan at work and I have decided to choose to see the gifts in this tragedy. Thanks to Jamie, I have so much gratitude for the simplest things in my life, like having the eyes to see a beautiful flower, having healthy lungs to breath in the fresh sea air or being able to stop, be and just take time with my subsequent children. Jamie gave me the courage to be who I truly am and just give things a go. I now spend many hours a week playing and writing music for the love of it; as a result, I am living a truly inspired life.

When I started this project, I said that if I could help just one other bereaved parent to not feel so alone, then it would have all been worthwhile. I have received numerous positive emails from other bereaved parents since releasing this album- so everything now is just a bonus.

For anyone who has experienced the tragedy of losing a child and is interested in receiving my album, please visit my website www.jennymcgregor.com.au and write to me via the ‘contact’ page. All song lyrics and explanations can be found on my website on the “Music” page in the small ‘info’ box. I welcome any feedback and I look forward to connecting with each and every one of you.

Anyone who purchases a book from Harpermartin's 'Remembering Me' collection will get immediate access to Jenny McGregors beautiful Album in their thank you letter.

Thank you Jenny for sharing your story and allowing me to share your album x