“There is a saying that “time is medicine,” yes…
But, hm… I don’t entirely agree with the idea that time is medicine. Still, if time passes.. rather than saying time is medicine, I think time just covers things up. I don’t think it heals you, and if you want to heal I think it’s better to seek some other methods.
One thing I do think I can tell you is that if time passes, you will hurt a little less than you do right now.”
Jonghyun, “Blue Night”, 2015 / translation: sullaem
It’s been a little over a month. A little over a month since we lost a beautiful human being and a huge inspiration to the music industry due to the terrible disease that is depression. A little over a month since I’ve lost someone who has been such an enormous presence in my life, without any warning.
We’ve seen people write about his tragic death, why it is valid to grieve it and how to cope with it — and while these commentaries are important, I would also like to celebrate the time he was alive. I’ve been a Shawol religiously for the past nine years, and in honour of Jonghyun and the release of his album, I would like to take you on a little journey.
Debuting with SHINee in 2008, Jonghyun started creating content for the group since the very beginning with their title track “Juliette”. Several times throughout his career, he repeatedly said he had no regrets about debuting with SHINee, and if he could do it all over again with the same members, he would do it in a heartbeat. Jonghyun wrote and composed many songs for SHINee, as well as for his own albums and for other artists such as “Breathe” for Lee Hi, “Gloomy Clock” for IU and “Already” for Taemin.
But regardless of his many creations, it was the way he spoke about music that made you realize how big his passion and devotion to it was. He excelled in metaphors and imagery, describing emotions in his own unique way and creating music that could make you feel as if you are somewhere else when you listen to it. Taking all those skills together, Jonghyun also wrote a book named “Skeleton Flower”, same name as the song from his first compilation album “Story Op. 1”.
Jonghyun was the host of MBC’s radio show “Blue Night” between 2014 to 2017. During that time, we got to peek into the personality that was Kim Jonghyun, through his own voice and stories.
Being the sensitive and open-minded person that he was, Jonghyun prioritized honesty over his own reputation. The most known story would be him publicly supporting a transgender student named Kang Eun Ha, who protested against the discrimination towards the LGBT community, which caused a pretty big wave of criticism against him.
Contacting the student through private message, which was later on revealed by the student herself, he said:
“I support you. As a celebrity, as a minority of a different sort facing the public, I also feel disappointment towards the world that does not accept difference. Of course, it can’t be compared to what you feel.”
Besides being open about his beliefs and opinions, Jonghyun made sure to be open about his mental condition, emotions and difficulties.
“One can’t be bright 365 days per year. Being happy all year round is kind of an illness in itself, isn’t it? Humans have to have emotional ups and downs.”
During his livestreams on Instagram and his Blue Night broadcasts Jonghyun mentioned his suffering several times, and got a tattoo that read: “Warning! I have a black dog” which is a well-known phrase that symbolizes depression. While fighting his own wars, Jonghyun made sure to comfort others through his radio show every night and warm you with his soothing voice.
One last time, Jonghyun left behind an amazing gift; his album “Poet | Artist”. Jonghyun mentioned working on a new album for a couple months before his passing, which SM Entertainment eventually released with the announcement that all profits will go to Jonghyun’s mother, who will provide help to other troubled people similar to Jonghyun. Don’t miss the title track from the album, “Shinin’”:
You see, speaking about Jonghyun in past tense is difficult. I don’t think I’ve fully realized what happened just yet. It’s different from any kind of grief I’ve had to go through so far in my life, and I’m sure a lot of people feel the same. I’ve been lucky enough to see SHINee perform as five twice, but still, when you lose an artist — coping with it is kind of tricky.
When you lose someone you knew in real life, one day, you just stop seeing them, and at first it feels surreal and terrible, but the change in your daily life is instant and you can feel it right away. Losing an artist who has influenced you for several years is an entirely different case. You’ve always seen them in videos, heard them in music, seen all the pictures, the posters on your wall — and when they pass away they don’t really disappear. They’re still in all the same places you used to see them. They’re not erased from the videos or the pictures, but rather, they leave a long legacy behind them, which makes the coping period a lot longer than you’d take in another situation.
For the majority of us, rather than a hobby, these artists play a role of comfort, happiness and lead you to create unique connections. Thanks to them you get to come home and unwind, laugh a little, get to meet people around the world, and get through the day. So when you realize you couldn’t do the same for your beloved artist, the feeling of guilt is consuming.
Most people don’t understand the influence an artist has on your life, for better and for worse. How they can fill you up with happy feelings and the void they leave behind when they’re gone. People around you might try to make you feel bad about grieving for so long when it’s really just been a little over a month, or ridicule your feelings over “just a singer”. Don’t let them. Your sadness is valid, and your pain is real. Surround yourself with people who care and understand, cry when you want to cry, and laugh when you feel like laughing.
And when you come home every day, or every night, tell yourself — “You’ve worked hard”. Tell yourself that you did well. Give yourself a pat on the shoulder and say that tomorrow you’ll be even bigger and stronger.
하루의 끝 (End of a day)
“I wrote this song thinking of how the listeners who stay with us ‘til the end, and those who are still working at this time, will end their days later than others. […]
“People end their day with difficulty, but I feel that there aren’t many instances where one can say, ‘you’ve worked hard’, ‘it was hard on you’, or (that you can) pat someone on the back.”