“How One Night Changed Everything”: An Essay by Fiona Grey for Mental Health Awareness Month

Fiona Grey © 2024
Fiona Grey © 2024
Throughout the year, Atwood Magazine invites members of the music industry to participate in a series of essays reflecting on identity, music, culture, inclusion, and more.
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Today, LA-based pop singer/songwriter Fiona Grey shares her essay, “How One Night Changed Everything,” as a part of Atwood Magazine’s Mental Health Awareness Month series. Says Grey, “Experiencing profound grief and loss has profoundly changed me, deepening my appreciation for life’s beauty and joy, as I navigate the complexities of mental health and find gratitude in the highs and lows of existence.”
As one of LA Weekly’s “Best Pop Artists in LA” and a darling of the indie music scene, Fiona Grey has carved out a niche for herself with her electrifying live performances and thought-provoking lyrics. From sold-out shows at iconic venues like LA’s Troubadour to sharing the stage with the likes of Charli XCX and KITTEN, Grey continues to push the boundaries of pop music with her distinct blend of theatrics and self-reflection.
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Fiona Grey with her sister

by Fiona Grey

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I spend a lot of my life thinking about the concepts of grief and how it’s changed me.

I think about the ways I’ve been forced to prioritize mental health to stay afloat. I grew up very good at sweeping my traumas under my bed and pretending like everything was okay. My therapist would probably say I didn’t want to be a victim or maybe I just wasn’t ready to face the realities in front of me. But I’ve always wanted to be more than the situations that have occurred in my life. I wished that life wasn’t about survival and wanted to feel joy in the pure way I used to. But once you experience deep grief your outlook has forever changed – but wait – what if that can actually be a beautiful thing. What if – that deep low makes you appreciate the days where there’s nothing horrible going on. What if somehow you are able to see more beauty around you because you’ve felt such darkness.

Fiona Grey © 2024
Fiona Grey © 2024

I think losing someone you love is one of the hardest things to experience – especially when they pass prematurely.

My song “High Low” really connects me to one of the most intense 24 hours of my life. I had just come back from a tour and did this amazing homecoming show at a LA venue Golddiggers. KCRW & School Night were sponsoring the event and LA Weekly had just named me the “Best Pop Artist in LA” and there was a billboard with my face saying “Best Pop Artist in LA” on Sunset Blvd. I was on cloud nine, all the hard work felt like maybe (just maybe) it was paying off. The show was packed, we had this wild after party and I felt like the biggest rock star. That same evening my sibling committed suicide. The best night of my life and the worst night of my life happened on the same night.

Billboard in LA declaring Fiona Grey the “Best Pop Artist in LA”
Billboard in LA declaring Fiona Grey the “Best Pop Artist in LA”

So where do I go from there? Rock bottom isn’t a good place to be but then again my head getting so big from being on top of the world isn’t that great either. I was in a haze for a pretty long time, moments happened that I don’t seem to remember. What insanity, a part of my life I wanted to remember the most and so much of it blocked out of my memory.

It’s been almost 5 years since my sibling Jayme passed and sitting back and thinking about that day still really trips me out. Even seeing friends at that venue makes me think about how naive I was when I played that show there that August night in 2019 and how much my life has changed.

Fiona Grey outside Gold-Diggers LA
Fiona Grey outside Gold-Diggers LA

The truth is, we’re all trying to make sense of death. Some people believe in a God or a heaven. I understood why people sought the comfort of religion so much more once I experienced loss – I wished I believed in something that made it all make sense or could be an answer to all the questions I had. So maybe what I’m about to say is my little creation for self soothing in times of pain. Maybe this is my version of a god or a heaven to give myself a little peace but I do believe after years of grieving, months of asking why and a lifetime of missing the people who I have lost I feel deep gratitude for life. An understanding I know I would have never had if I didn’t lose so many people close to me at such young ages.

I carry the weight of appreciating the trees when the wind hits them or the way that the sun hits the ocean right as it’s setting because I’ve felt such deep lows to truly admire the highs of life. When something good happens I really do believe I can appreciate it more and for that I am thankful. – Fiona Grey

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Stream: “High Low” – Fiona Grey

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