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Dave Grohl Needs You

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Dave Grohl needs you. You’d never know it from social media. True to form, online accounts give zero indication of difficulty. Instead, they post and repost rosy pictures of Dave smiling, giving clever interviews, and playing with the Foo Fighters. It’s the “all is well” image that we’ve come to expect and project into the world through pixels of light shot onto two-dimensional screens.  But make no mistake, right now an icon of his generation is not just deeply sad, he’s grieving. And like anyone grieving, he needs support.

Grohl’s friendship with Taylor Hawkins was beyond close. In his autobiography, Storyteller, Dave struggles to describe his deep love for Taylor in platonic terms. “I am not afraid to say that our chance meeting was a kind of love at first sight, igniting a musical ‘twin flame,’” he muses. Taking a mystical tone he continues, “We are absolutely meant to be, and I am grateful that we found each other in this lifetime.”

Their passionate, loving friendship nearly ended in 2001 when Hawkins overdosed and landed in a coma from which doctors feared he might never awake. Grohl spent a terrifying two weeks bedside at the hospital. In a 2011 interview in The Guardian, he admitted “when Taylor wound up in hospital I was ready to quit music. Because, to me, it felt like music equaled death.”

He’d been there before. Grohl’s rockstar trajectory first blasted off upon meeting Kurt Cobain. Like Hawkins, Cobain also overdosed—and was reported to be dead—before recovering. Nirvana’s rocket ride came crashing down two months later when Cobain ended his life by suicide. It was a devastating loss for Grohl, one from which he doubted he could ever rebound. When Taylor Hawkins died in March, it must have resonated with Grohl’s trauma of Kurt’s death. Two epic musical collaborators. Two dear friends. Two tragic losses. It’s difficult to imagine how one person could bear such epic loss.

But Dave Grohl is resilient. He proved this when he recovered from Kurt’s death, and the death of Nirvana, by going on to form Foo Fighters, another legendary band. Speaking to The Guardian, he credited family. “If I ever felt that I was getting swept away by the craziness of being in a band, well, I’d go back to Virginia. And I’d spend the night in the room I grew up in. And I’d hang out with people I was in second grade with, and their kids, and ‘Uncle Dave’s here!’, and whatever. I’d have a barbecue with the people I loved, and that kept me from getting lost.”

Connecting with people who matter, and maintaining relationships is one key to resilience according to psychologists Al Desetta and Sybil Wolin. In their seminal book The Struggle To Be Strong, they describe seven key factors to resilience, including Creativity (finding a way to express oneself), Humor (appreciating what’s funny), and Initiative (taking charge of your situation). Dave Grohl seems to be using them all. But nobody is perfect, not even rock gods projecting happiness through social media.

People are suffering. Drug overdoses are at an all-time high. Gun violence in and out of schools is traumatizing. A million Americans died from Covid. Like Dave, many of us are grieving. Yet coping with death is a taboo subject we hardly ever discuss.

Most people have heard about the five stages of mourning: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But there’s no one way to grieve. These stages often come “out of order,” persist longer than expected, and surprise us by reappearing when we least expect it. In Storyteller, Dave Grohl wrestles with the nature of grief.  “Is it time that dictates the depth of your grief when losing someone? Is the emotional relevance simply determined by the number of days that you spent together?”

People have pondered the meanings of life and death for eons. There are universalities to the experience of loss. Rock stars aren’t the only ones putting on a brave face in public. And you don’t need to have been best friends with Kurt Cobain to be devastated by loss. In the end, everyone’s grief is different. There are things all of us can do to build our own resilience and support bereft friends and family. Adam Rabinovitch, Executive Director at COPE, a non-profit serving bereaved families says the main thing you can do is reach out. “Let grieving friends know you’re there to listen. Don’t say you’re there for them. Say you’re there with them. Stay connected.” We’ve entered an era of hidden grief. There are a lot of Dave’s out there. All of them need support.

-Ed Zareh

Photo: Dave Grohl with Foo Fighters in Dublin, 2019 (Raphael Pour-Hashemi via Wikimedia Commons)

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12 comments on “Dave Grohl Needs You

  1. Contrary to popular belief Dave was not at all “close” to Kurt, but it makes for a good story.

    • Dolores Rider

      That isn’t true. Dave was devastated both when he was mistakenly told Kurt was dead, and then when he actually was. He may not have been his best friend, but you can’t say he wasn’t close. Dave has said he continued to have dreams that Kurt is still alive, so why would this happen if he hadn’t been close with him? Dave had lost another close friend from childhood years ago also, but this loss of Taylor must be on an even more painful level than anything before. He said he had never loved a friend this much before.

  2. Judith Lasnier

    I am with you Dave. On 2004, my 27 years old Brother died on August 5th and my sister 34 years old died 5 days later, on the 10th of August 2004.I am the middle child ( like Taylor Hawkins sang). I was the age of the Christ 33 years old. I lost my 2 Wings and I had to learn to FLY …again. I am with you Dave Grohl xxxxxxx

  3. Justin Conn

    Dave, I’m a huge fan of you and everyone, Taylor has left a big hole in our hearts and may he continue to play in the great gig in the sky! I mourn with you and the band and his family. I live in the Denver area, and Mi Casa es su casa if you ever need a hug and a sit down talk with a regular dude who tries to send good vibes out to the universe! Love you guys!

  4. wsucram15

    I doubt you will see this and don’t know why I am writing this to you now. Maybe because I know kinda how you feel. I lost bandmate years ago… we were never famous but that doesn’t change the emotions.
    In 2009, I lost my older sister, best friend of 35+years, my Aunt, Uncle and my Mother. I always thought I lived my life on my own until I was “ on my own.”
    I somehow managed to get on my feet somewhere in 2010, and move forward. I went away and thought about things, clearing my head.
    Then in 2011, my longtime friend was killed by a drunk driver at noon on a Friday taking her father to the doctors. I still get upset over that but know that for whatever reason, she was so remarkable, her spirit was needed more urgently somewhere else and we had to let her go.

    I have friends but I don’t make friends like that. My family is mostly all gone now.
    But I wanted to tell you that you have life and a family, it doesn’t always help but be grateful for your life now. It is so short and you have survived and accomplished so much.
    You had help ( like I did) and they will always be with you, in your heart and soul.

    Peace to you…

  5. Holly D

    Dave, You have been there for so many in your music. Our ups, our downs, and quite often just to simply to be connected. It’s now our turn to be there for you, Taylor’s family, your family and all the Foos. Do what’s right for you and in your own time. We’ll be here for you today, tomorrow, and always.

  6. Sherwin Rackal

    Dave, you have been like my best friend that nobody knew about since I was a kid. I lost my best friend too and In Your Honour helped me heal. I hope you are doing better and want you to know I love you and I’m here for you.

  7. Thank you, all, for your heartfelt notes. Sometimes this is about more than music; and we need to be mindful of our friends and loved ones. Thanks for sharing.

  8. “Let grieving friends know you’re there to listen. Don’t say you’re there for them. Say you’re there with them.”

    Another variant that I have learned: Rather than asking people who are suffering “what can I do for you,” ask “what can I BE for you.”

  9. Bridget

    Dear Dave, My heart goes out to you, your band, your family and the Hawkins Family and all the Fans. Loosing someone who met your soul, you knew you from the start, who you loved unconditionally and who made an undeniable brand on your heart is so devastating. I hope that there are arms around you…that you are able to see the small joys in everyday life … and that you have the resolve to go forward and take that ember of Taylor to the heights his friendship and brotherhood meant to you. I have lost…I fel your ache & pain … know that many love you for the Worthy Man you are. Sending Love & Compassion 💛

  10. Charles Caracciolo

    Great piece, Ed, thank you!

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