On the wall in my apartment hangs a piece of canvas that my now-wife bought whilst in the throes of grief over the loss of a loved one half a decade ago. It says “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” It was the first thing I thought of during my first listen of the aptly-titled Post Traumatic EP, Mike Shinoda’s first music released since the death of Chester Bennington in July of 2017. Post Traumatic is Mike learning to surf: a guided tour through the aftermath of Chester’s passing which features Mike at his realest, rawest and most vulnerable. Grief is often connected with sadness, but anyone who has lost someone truly important to them will tell you it is more than that: it is anger, fear, disorientation, guilt, desolation and, yes, immense sadness rolled into one. Post Traumatic manages to perfectly touch on all of these themes in just ten short minutes. It’s odd to say this about a 3-song EP, but this is an important release for fans. Many have touched on the immense amount of catharsis they felt while listening to these songs and hearing Mike describe what many of them have been going through. If we’re in group therapy, Mike’s lyrics on Post Traumatic help facilitate our healing. In Place to Start, Mike describes how Chester’s death has created doubt and uncertainty about what’s next for him and his bandmates. What is clearly evident is his struggle to picture what a Chester-less Linkin Park looks like, and how that would work. Yet despite his admissions of hopelessness and fear about the future, there’s a real underlying yearning for the strength and inspiration to take that first step towards re-launching things. The spark is still there, but the fire has not yet risen, and it’s going to take some time. Throughout Over Again, Mike depicts how grief comes in waves, often unexpectedly. The song shares many of the same themes as the title track from One More Light, which also touches on loss and how the smallest reminders can blindside you and make you spiral. Between choruses, the track chronicles the decision to put together Chester’s tribute show and how hard it was to rehearse and perform without him at the Hollywood Bowl show three months later. One of the most interesting takeaways is how conflicted Mike was after the show. It’s not uncommon for those close to someone who has died to feel a certain level of survivor’s guilt, and it’s entirely reasonable for Mike to feel torn about answering a question about how the tribute show went with an emphatic “it was amazing!". Can you enjoy something, whilst wishing it had never happened? One interpretation of Watching as I Fall is that it centers around the challenges of grieving under a public microscope. As a society, we often don’t give others the space to grieve in their own way, and project our own beliefs of how to grieve upon them. The fact is that different people grieve differently. Some do it openly and outwardly, while others put on a brave face. Some stay in bed all day and others try to keep busy. Some surround themselves with family and friends and others withdraw into themselves. The key is that there’s no perfect way to grieve, so when you see Mike posting concert pics on his Instagram, your assumption shouldn’t be “well, he seems fine!", because in all likelihood he’s just trying to cope day-to-day like the rest of us. Post Traumatic is the most important gift the LP community has ever received. It confirms that we’re not alone in feeling the way we do. It teaches us that grief is an ongoing process, and that closure is a myth. It gives us perspective on being grateful for having something that makes saying goodbye so difficult. And it tells us the waves will keep on coming, but we can learn to surf.