Though an entire nation of fans grieves the loss of Prince Rogers Nelson—simply known as Prince—there are those of us who are seemingly devastated in ways typically reserved for only family members and close friends. Yet, though we’ve never met him—and some of us might have never had the chance to witness his live performance—we feel a deeper connection than that of a mere fan. For those of us once in the role of a lost child, Prince was a caretaker and a trusted companion.
The lost child is one of five dysfunctional family roles. Essentially, this role is self-explanatory. The child loses themselves in music, books, movies, etc. Buried in his or her room—a safe haven from the storm raging in other areas of the home—the lost child straps on headphones or crawls inside a book or video game and escapes.
Characters in novels, actors in movies and artists behind songs become the guardians of a beautifully constructed fantasy world—one in which no pain, shame or abuse of any kind exists. These fictional personas, musicians and thespians unwittingly assume a savior role within our lives. They shield us from pain, death and rescue us from a certain destruction.
As such, when the world loses one of its celebrities, we lose a childhood champion, an emancipator and someone we indeed considered a member of our fabricated, fantasy family. Since most of us were surrounded by people who were emotionally unavailable, negligent and incapable of connecting, the latter is not a concept completely impossible to believe.
The lost child typically doesn’t have access to authentic relationships within the biological family. Family members are generally escaping their own realities with drugs, alcohol and other destructive means. They’re void of compassion and empathy. Essentially, even living in the same home, they aren’t any more accessible than Prince, himself.
Therefore, creating emotional bonds with artists who speak meaningful words of wisdom, share love and intimate emotional experiences through lyrics and masterfully produced songs is somewhat expected of a lost child. Additionally, the grief those of us who once identified as a lost child now feel is very real, regardless of the fantastical ways in which our deep, emotional connections were formed. Moreover, just as we needed and deserved the right to feel, grieve and express that experience in our childhood, we are still now entitled to that right in adulthood.
RIP, Prince. And, from this onetime lost child, thank you for saving me. You were appreciated and cherished in ways you could never know, and you will be greatly missed and celebrated, eternally.