Ed Sheeran, ‘Eyes Closed’, bares his soul on grief and depression

British singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran, is back with fourth album reflecting major shifts in his personal life

Video: Ed Sheeran - Eyes Closed [Official Video], Ed Sheeran

One of the top five most-streamed artists on Spotify, and multiple award winning singer, Ed Sheeran is gracing us with his new album – (Subtract). The final album to his ‘Mathematical’ series, this album hits different as it is “opening the trapdoor into my soul.” he says.

“For the first time, I’m not trying to craft an album people will like, I’m merely putting something out that’s honest and true to where I am in my adult life.”.

Image taken from Instagram: @edhq

Eye’s Closed, the lead single, reveals some of life’s most painful emotions.

Sometimes, the only way to heal, is to face those emotions and unwanted memories, embrace the reality and get on with life the best way we know how.


Eyes Closed, explores feelings of grief and loss from the death of his close friend, Jamal Edwards. It also talks about the overwhelming feelings of disbelief and sadness he experienced when his wife battled cancer.

Coming to terms with a permanent loss of a loved one is really difficult. While words can often escape us when it comes to confusing complicated experiences like bereavement, the use of imagery can help to concretize intangible emotions. Ed Sheeran used a ‘huge blue monster’ to manifest his feelings and compared it to dark clouds following you everywhere.

Image taken from Instagram: @teddysphotos

“This song is about losing someone, feeling like every time you go out and expect to just bump into them. Everything just reminds you of them and the things you did together.”

The illustration of the blue monster following Ed around in Eyes closed, tells us that every emotion is valid. No loss is too small, invalid or insignificant. Even though these feelings cannot be seen by anyone else (like the blue monster in Eyes closed), it is important to acknowledge that it is there so that you can process what you are going through.

Grieving takes time, and there is no specific timeline for it. Although the pain may seem overwhelming and frustrating to bear, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow yourself to feel those feelings.

However, if those feelings are causing you to turn to negative coping methods or unable to go on with daily living, please see professional help to manage the grief.

Image taken from Instagram: @edhq


Catastrophic lost can sometimes lead to depression.

“I felt like I didn’t want to live any more…(It’s like) You’re under the waves, drowning. You’re just sort of in this thing. And you can’t get out of it.”

Ed shared that he felt shame when feeling depressed, especially since he led a comfortable and “privileged” life as a singer. “My thoughts feel selfish,” he said, “especially as a father. I feel really embarrassed about it.”

Image take from Instagram: @edhq

Thankfully, through the encouragement of his wife, Ed sought professional help from a therapist. Something he learnt in therapy was that he is allowed to feel angry, depressed, and pain just like everyone else. There is nothing to be ashamed or guilty about when feeling these unpleasant feelings.

“(Depression) is something that will always be there and just has to be managed.” 

No matter who you are, you are allowed to seek help and understand your emotions. Everyone deserves support.


Unresolved negative past-experiences can pile on when you are struggling with a difficult episode in life.

Ed shared that he was bullied in primary school for looking different from others.

Being the butt of everyone’s jokes as a child led to a series of unresolved trauma and personal issues that Ed faces today.

Image take from Instagram: @edhq

“I went to a really, really sport-orientated primary school, ” he says, “I had bright red hair, big blue glasses, and a stutter. I couldn’t play the sport because I had a perforated eardrum. You’re just singled out for being different at that point. I’ve kind of blocked out a lot of it, but I have a real hang up about that.” 

So, Ed decided to pick up music. After learning different instruments, he found his love for songwriting and guitar-playing.

Bullying can be deeply traumatising. And is something that no one should ever deal with alone. Ed advocates voicing out and processing painful feelings, even when discussing events from a long time ago.

Image taken from Instagram: @teddysphotos

If you find yourself in a similar situation as Ed, here’s some links that may help.

Managing grief

What is Depression

Post traumatic stress disorder

Managing suicidal thoughts

If you are struggling with thoughts of ending your life, please get help immediately. Sometimes, the pain that we are experiencing can feel overwhelming. But these feelings do go away. There are people who can help you, please give life a chance.

SOS helpline


If you need to talk to someone, click on the image for helplines

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