Etheridge's 21-year-old son, Beckett Cypher, died in May while battling an opioid addiction.
As a parent you want to be there in every way you can for your child, but sometimes it's just not possible. One of the biggest challenges in this area is when dealing with the consuming power of addiction.
Melissa Etheridge opened up in a career-spanning video interview with Rolling Stone about losing her son Beckett Cypher in May amid his struggles with an opioid addiction.
"There will always be that that place in my heart and my soul that that has a little bit of, ‘Oh, what could I have done? And is it my fault he ended this way?’ and all that sort of thing," she admitted.
But she also conceded that that feeling of guilt and responsibility "just gets smaller and smaller, because it doesn’t serve me anymore, and where he is now, he certainly doesn’t want me to take that on."
Grappling with how to be the parent of an addict was something Etheridge admitted to struggling with. "You want to help your child. You want to make them all better," she said, but there's only so much you can do as a parent.
Especially, as in this case, when your child becomes an adult. "There were things out of my control, of course. And there came a time when I needed to really sit down with myself and say, ‘I can’t save him. I can’t give up my life and go try to live his life for him,'" she said. "And I had to come up against the possibility that he might die."
It's a horrific thought to contemplate for every parent, and tragically in Etheridge's case a prescient one.
"Of course it’s nothing a parent ever wants," she said. "But as a human being, I just needed to be at peace with a troubled son who did the best he could, who believed what he believed and then his life ended way, way too soon."
And despite her internal struggles and those lingering questions of self-doubt and self-blame, Etheridge wants to put the message out there that it's okay to put those feelings aside as best you can.
"If that can help any parents who might be torturing themselves with that … I believe life is meant to be lived with as much joy as we can," she said. "But life is also contrast. Life is also up and down. I’ve lived enough of it now to know. And you can’t lay down. You can’t be shattered. You can’t die and give up."
Noting that her son ultimately did both of those things, Etheridge admitted of her own advice, "I still struggle with it, but that’s what I can say."
And a big part of her healing has come through music. It's always been her passion, her constant and the fuel she uses to process. "The thing that makes life make sense has always been my music," she said. "I’ve always been able to sing and breathe and let it out and get the emotions out through music. It has saved me my whole entire life"
As such, she and her wife, Linda Wallem, have created Etheridge TV, a space for Etheridge to create her music and share it with her fans, even amid a global pandemic.
"I started with, ‘Is that appropriate? How do I get in front of people when they know what I’m going through?’," she admitted, adding that "that’s where all the healing is."
"It gives us something to do every day to get through this time, and it’s just really saved us."