We recognize her from her signature high ponytail, sassy wardrobe and gut wrenching lyrics and we love her for all the same reasons.
Ariana Grande has faced massive success in the recent past, with No. 1 hits on the charts (and number two, and number three…) and sellout concert tours. But, all that comes on the heels of a rough year and some serious grief, which has been hard for her to overcome.
Celebrity status comes with its share of hardships for Ariana Grande
In May 2017, Grande survived the brutality of hate after a bombing of her sold-out show touring in Manchester, England. A suicide bomber detonated in the foyer of the concert hall leaving 22 people dead and hundreds injured, including children.
She tweeted the next day, one of the most like tweets in the history of Twitter: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”
In dealing with the tragedy, the superstar quickly returned to Manchester to offer her condolences and support to the victims and their families. All the while knowing that it wasn’t her tragedy, it was theirs.
Grande overcame a rough few years
In an interview with Time magazine, the songstress explains how she carries the grief of Manchester with her, always. Despite heading right back to Manchester after the bombing to support the victims and help raise money for their healing, she cannot put aside how infinitely saddened the situation has made her.
“Music is supposed to be the safest thing in the world,” she explained through tears. “I think that’s why it’s still so heavy on my heart every single day….I wish there was more that I could fix. You think with time it’ll become easier to talk about. Or you’ll make peace with it. But every day I wait for that peace to come and it’s still very painful.”
Making ‘thank u, next’ was helpful to Grande’s psyche
In that same interview with Time, Grande mentions that she has tapped into her feelings more than ever to help her create music. Grande credits this newfound creativeness and freedom to express herself with her efforts to really heal her heart.
“I felt more inclined to tap into my feelings because I was spending more time with them,” she says. “I was talking about them more. I was in therapy more…I never opened up about [her struggles with anxiety], because I thought that was how life was supposed to feel.”
“thank u, next” contains some of the most heart-wrenchingly personal songs in her musical history and she went on to tackle a tour of more than 40 cities, each night climbing onto the stage to battle her anxieties and personal fears. Many of her concerts recently have resulted in her singing through her tears.
Grande calls it the scary moment that changed her life forever
Ariana’s former boyfriend and long-time friend, Mac Miller, died of an accidental overdose in 2018. After his death Grande recalls the immediate aftermath as a time of “all-consuming grief”.
She came out the other side, with the help of her friends and by spending some time alone, producing music. Needless to say, the period of time surrounding his death was difficult for Grande, and she didn’t always handle it well.
“But if I’m completely honest,” the singer admits to Vogue, “I don’t remember those months of my life because I was (a) so drunk and (b) so sad. I don’t really remember how it started or how it finished, or how all of a sudden there were 10 songs on the board. I think that this is the first album and also the first year of my life where I’m realizing that I can no longer put off spending time with myself, just as me.”
However, despite her musical successes following this period of grieving, she’s not healed. In fact, these are the scary moments that have forever changed her outlook on life.
While singing in the studio remains a safe haven of reflection and creation for Grande, she has had some time to self-reflect on the process of grief. She knows that she has to take steps toward facing life’s tough stuff.
“I’ve been boo’d up my entire adult life. I’ve always had someone to say goodnight to. So ‘thank u, next’ was this moment of self-realization. It was this scary moment of ‘Wow, you have to face all this stuff now. No more distractions. You have to heal all this shit.’ ”
Grande notes that self-care, and working through her own personal demons is important to her health and her music.
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