Ariana Grande Remembers Manchester Bombing 3 Years After Tragedy: 'Prayers Are with You Always'
Ariana Grande is paying her respects to the city of Manchester.
Grande and the England city were bound together in tragedy on May 22, 2017 when a suicide bomber killed 22 people at her concert and injured more than 500.
Three years later, Grande revealed that she still feels the impact of the attack as she penned a note of solidarity with fans on Wednesday, opening up about her emotions surrounding that day.
"I want to take a moment to acknowledge and send my love to everyone that is feeling the sadness and tremendous heaviness of the anniversary coming up this week," Grande wrote in a message shared to her Instagram Stories.
"Not a day goes by that this doesn’t affect you and all of us still. I will be thinking of you all week and weekend," she continued. "My heart, thoughts, prayers are with you always."
Her note was signed with a black heart emoji and a bee emoji — the latter a familiar emblem of Manchester, adopted by locals as a symbol of resilience and hope.
It was a dark time for the singer, who later admitted to suffering from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. In the wake of the attack, Grande suspended her tour, but less than two weeks after the tragedy, Grande returned to the Manchester stage once again for her star-studded benefit concert for the victims of the attack. Performers included Pharrell Williams, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Niall Horan, Robbie Williams, the Black Eyed Peas and Katy Perry, among others.
The concert raised $13 million for those affected.
Grande channeled her pain into her music — penning the hit, “No Tears Left to Cry,” the first single off her album, Sweetener. When she finally released the song, an anthem about picking up one's life after heartbreak, Grande admitted she was still finding her footing after the disorienting tragedy.
“May 22, 2017 will leave me speechless and filled with questions for the rest of my life,” she said in a letter to fans shared that November.
“Music is an escape. Music is the safest thing I’ve ever known. Music — pop music, stan culture — is something that brings people together, introduces them to some of their best friends, and makes them feel like they can be themselves. It is comfort. It is fun. It is expression. It is happiness. It is the last thing that would ever harm someone. It is safe,” she wrote at the time. “When something so opposite and so poisonous takes place in your world that is supposed to be everything but that… it is shocking and heartbreaking in a way that seems impossible to fully recover from.”
Grande went on to explain that the tragedy taught her resilience and not to take life for granted.
“The spirit of the people of Manchester, the families affected by this horrendous tragedy, and my fans around the world have permanently impacted all of us for the rest of our lives,” she said. “Their love, strength, and unity showed me, my team, my dancers, band, and entire crew not to be defeated. To continue during the scariest and saddest of times. To not let hate win. But instead, love as loudly as possible, and to appreciate every moment.”
“The people of Manchester were able to change an event that portrayed the worst of humanity into one that portrayed the most beautiful of humanity. ‘Like a handprint on my heart’… I think of Manchester constantly and will carry this with me every day for the rest of my life,” Grande added.
Last year, Grande returned to Manchester for her first performance in the city since 2017, headlining the Manchester Pride Festival months after the second anniversary of the shooting.
"The gays have always had my heart. Personally I spent some of the happiest times of my teenage years singing in gay bars in New York City. I was in a Broadway show, and whenever I’d finish a show, I’d just go to a gay bar and sing Whitney Houston covers until someone would ask me to leave,” she told the crowd, according to E! News. “It’s always been such a special thing for me. So, thank you so much for accepting me, celebrating me the way I’ve always celebrated you guys.”
Before taking the stage, she wrote on social media that all of her Manchester fans were “my heart in every way.”
"Love you so much," she said. "Can’t wait to give you all our love. You’re my heart in every way. See you soon."