In this trilogy, death is everywhere, no character escapes it without being changed by the loss. As in the real world, the characters are constantly finding ways to cope with the pain. The tuners, on the other hand, seem to have the wisdom and spiritual knowledge to see death, heal others and in the process, make death as beautiful as possible.
When someone dies, so often there is no right thing to say. Hoa knows this having said, “I wish that I were still a tuner so that I could speak to you through temperatures and pressures and reverberations of the earth. Words are too much to indelicate, for this conversation.” (Jemisin 166). These “reverberations” seem to be similar to sound vibrations. A stone eater’s also used such vibrations. Their songs can help heal physical or emotional pain, for example, when Hoa helped alleviate the dying Ontrag’s pain in the desert.
Music has has always had “magical” properties. Medieval monks would chant faithful melodies at the departed’s mass. Classical composers like Mozart and Brahms wrote Requiems to express the pain of their own loss. Mozart’s Requiem was inspired by his father’s death and Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem was written to express the loss of his dear friend and mentor, Robert Schumann. His mother’s death was also represented in this piece. When times are hard, some take lemons and make lemonade. Others take pain and create a timeless, masterpiece. They show us the beauty of those who mourn.
Stone eaters could be compared to modern day music therapists because of their special ability to tune pain away. When Alabaster was turning to stone, Antimony sang his pain away. I don’t know a lot about music therapy but I imagine that a piece of music could jump-start a patient’s healing. The melody, the piano chords, the lyric flute speaks to everyone individually. Perhaps even the lyrics say what you can’t. The tempo helps us move and perhaps helps us move forward to eventually accept the loss.
Throughout these novels N.K. Jemisin has said that people in Essuns life are apart of her. So when they die, a part of her is gone too. This is interestingly addressed when she asks Hoa to take her to Found Moon, to see Jija’s grave. Jija has betrayed Essun in every possible way. He has murdered their son, and took her daughter away from her. Even so, she mourns his death, and the life they once shared together. Hoa says “You were fond of Jija, after all, to the degree that your secrets allowed.”(Jemisin 166). Yes, she was fond of him and perhaps she loved him some. Characters in the trilogy are constantly mourning the dead. I guess that makes sense since it is a dystopian society and when the world that we know ends, a lot of people die. After Hoa and Essun return from Found Moon, Essun realizes that her daughter has also left her, Essun says “ I don’t know where to go. I don’t have anything left now.”(Jemisin 172) Hoa tells her to “Move forward.” How can she move forward. My advice is to seek out a tuner and begin to heal, but that would make short story, not a novel trilogy.