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Christian Counseling - A Note on the Passing of Clarence Clemons

Clarence "the Big Man" Clemons passed away this weekend from complications of a stroke suffered a week earlier. Many of the younger generation have been more moved by the passing of Ryan Dunn of "Jackass" fame than by the loss of Clemons. However, for many of my generation, the death of Clemons represents a significant loss.

For those who enjoy the music of Bruce Springsteen, the experience of being a fan is only in part the enjoyment of the music. The live marathon concert is what made Springsteen famous. His 4 hour shows often felt like a Rock and Roll revival that left fans exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. As time has passed, and Springsteen has aged as we all have, the length of his concerts has moved from 4 to close to 3 hours. One of the unkindest parts of aging is dealing with decline and loss. For Springsteen fans, many who have seen him upwards of 40 times in concert (I've only seen him 13 times), the loss of Clemons will fundamentally alter their experience of a Springsteen concert.

The loss of Clemons represents something deeper than just the present experience of Bruce Springsteen and his music. The loss of Clemons represents a loss of youth. Rock and Roll, the music we grow up with, and Bruce Springsteen in particular all represent freedom, youth, and the possibilities of life. That is why, while people may still enjoy new music, there is nothing quite like the music of our youth. You see, it is not only the music itself that touches us, but the context in which we first hear the music. Now, death brings sadness to our memories of youth. The passion of Clemon's saxophone is tinged with grief.

Some will have difficulty listening to Springsteen's music in the future knowing that the "Big Man" has been silenced. We can never recapture our youth. However, as we embrace that loss is a part of life, we can cherish the memories of our past, take what was best from our youth, and move on to face the challenges of the future.

So, the loss of the "Big Man" is similar to many losses that we will need to grieve in life. As with other losses, grief is not something that can be avoided. We either deal with grief or it deals with us. Grief is multifaceted. It is not one size fits all. The death of Clarence Clemons may represent a loss of youth, while the death of Ryan Dunn may represent, for a younger generation, the loss of the personal fable of invulnerability. As with many things, the what is not as important as the why. We need not judge what we are grieving. Instead, we need to understand why we are grieving. By doing this, we can begin the process of healing and moving forward.

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