Delores O’Riordan, Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows

Emily Swan
Apr 25 · 3 min read

Like many Gen Exers, I grieved the passing of 46-year-old Delores O’Riordan in 2018 — found dead of accidental drowning in a hotel bathroom after intoxication.

I was 14 when the Cranberries’ released their first album, Everybody Else is Doing It So Why Can’t We, and my friend Diana and I played the song “Linger” over and over on a (very trendy at the time) portable CD player while we played pool at a campground. I was hooked; I bought every album they ever released — even the dreadful Wake Up and Smell the Coffee.

On April 26, The Cranberries launch their final album, In the End, using vocal tracks Delores recorded just before her death. To mark the occassion, I remember Delores — whose mother named her after Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows — with songs coinciding with her own Seven Sorrows. Here is the soundtrack for my personal eulogy:

The Seven Sorrows of Delores O’Riordan

  1. emotional abuse — “Not Sorry” (Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?)
  2. unfaithfulness — “Linger” (Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?)
  3. divorce — “Promises” (Bury the Hatchet)
  4. war/global disasters — “Zombie” (No Need to Argue), “Bosnia” (To the Faithful Departed), “Time is Ticking” (Wake Up and Smell the Coffee)
  5. loneliness — “Empty” (No Need to Argue)
  6. depression — “Ode to My Family” (No Need to Argue), “The Pressure” (In the End)
  7. trauma — “All Over Now” (In the End), “Wake Me When It’s Over” (In the End)

Delores suffered from bipolar disorder, and much of the music she gifted us with is tinged with despair. She saw the world in all of its starkness and mourned the human condition.

The combination of unadorned lyricism with hauntingly ornamental vocals made The Cranberries’ music particularly striking in an era when grunge music relied heavily on male voices and gritty electric guitar chords. Delores’s Celtic-tinged voiced added unconventaional color, and she projected a sacred feel onto her lamentations.

While Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows sang most poignantly about life’s sadnesses, she left us with a final word on the title track of this last album — reminding us that, in the end, we are but spirits housed in bodies. And, while there are many things we try to attain in order to satisfy our bodies, it’s our spirit that we must tend, because our spirit is that which lasts.

Farewell, Delores. May God hold you in the Light as you practice for the grandest of divine after-parties.

In the End

Ain’t it strange
When everything you wanted
Was nothing that you wanted
In the end
Ain’t it strange
When everything you dreamt of
Was nothing that you dreamt of
In the end

Take my house, take the car, take the clothes
But you can’t take the spirit, take the spirit, take the spirit
But you can’t

Ain’t it strange
When everything you wanted
Was nothing that you wanted
In the end
Ain’t it strange
When everything you dreamt of
Was nothing that you dreamt of
In the end

Take my house, take the car, take the clothes
But you can’t take the spirit, take the spirit, take the spirit
But you can’t

Take the spirit, take the spirit, take the spirit

Ain’t it strange
When everything you wanted
Was nothing that you wanted
In the end

Solus Jesus

Solus Jesus: A Theology of Resistance, is the place to explore a new approach to Christianity. Emily Swan & Ken Wilson are co-pastors of Blue Ocean Faith, Ann Arbor (a2blue.org).

Emily Swan

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Co-Author with Ken Wilson of Solus Jesus: A Theology of Resistance, and co-pastor of Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor, a progressive, fully-inclusive church. Queer.

Solus Jesus

Solus Jesus: A Theology of Resistance, is the place to explore a new approach to Christianity. Emily Swan & Ken Wilson are co-pastors of Blue Ocean Faith, Ann Arbor (a2blue.org).