Saturday, August 4, 2018

What Do You Say When Someone is Grieving?

She had no idea that the moment I pulled into the parking lot to attend the picnic, I wiped the tears away so no one would notice. How would I explain that the death of a little boy, over 50 years ago, still makes me cry?

Our conversation was too timely to be a coincidence!

"I knew your brother, Nathan", she said.

I know it can be hard to figure out what to say, but those are some of the most comforting words you can say to someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one—even if it's decades later!

On my way to that picnic I had been listening to the song I had recorded years ago—Beside the Barn—surrounding the tragic death of my brother, Nathan. I was practicing the song for an upcoming video shoot we are planning sometime this year.

(When you're preparing to do a music video, you have to learn the song exactly the way you sang it the day you recorded it so that in the music video, your lip syncing appears to be as if you're really singing it live. You ARE singing it live, but it's not being recorded in a way that people will hear it so it has to match your original version. The only way to do that is to listen to it and practice with it. Even your breathing should be in sync with the recording.)

As I drove to the picnic, each time the song played, the tears would accompany my shaky voice. I could barely even get through the song. It was an interesting prelude to my conversation with the new-found friend at the picnic. (The hostess of the picnic introduced us and thought we'd enjoy connecting because she knew my Mother.) She shared that when she was a young woman, she and her mother were watching children in the nursery at a conference and my Mother brought Nathan to the nursery to be cared for while she attended the missionary conference.

Apparently, while all the other children ran around the room with much animation, Nathan just sat in his little chair and watched. He hadn't been walking yet but not long after that event, my Mother shared that Nathan began to walk. As she shared her memories of him with me, I drank in every word. I asked her all kinds of questions about Nathan. Curious....what was he like that day in the nursery?

She is the one who brought up Nathan—not me—which made it all the more mysterious.

If you've ever lost a loved one, you understand this. Hearing about your loved one from someone else is a fragrance that lingers long after you walk away from the conversation and you absorb every word.

Words like this are a verbal bouquet and the fragrance has an enduring quality. If you know someone who is grieving, perhaps a simple mention of their loved one is a nice place to start in offering comfort.


If you're like me and you're curious about "behind the scenes stuff", take a look at the music video, "Inside Things" that I did years ago. You can't see this, but while I sang this song (using the lip syncing method that I described above), I had a whole crew of people helping me: my performance coach reminding me to smile, or look "this" way and "that" way, the videographer running around me with his big camera, plus, my producer and the makeup/hair artist making sure all was well.

In the end, I was shocked that I was able to pull it off. I had to perform as if it was the day I first wrote the song and yet sing it as if no one was there. Like acting as if nothing is going on in the midst of a tornado.....

It was a really fun experience and I look forward to doing it again for the upcoming video shoot of "Beside the Barn". However, this will be a much more challenging song to do because of the nature of the story itself and going back to the home farm where it took place could be quite emotional.