I guess grief is the work that love must do.
So it is my honour to cry for you.
You can stream or download TO CRY FOR YOU here.
You can learn more about the entire RECOGNITION project here.
You can join the Weekly Arends Digest community for free here.
You can find the TO CRY FOR YOU lyrics here.
My mom was my first and best friend. I knew I would be heartbroken when she passed away. But I was still not prepared for the intensity of the grief when the time actually came.
For the first six months after she died, I spent most of my time fighting back my tears, exhausting myself in the process. Then, I was asked to sing at the funeral of another mother. At the service, her young adult son Jordan stood to speak. “If you’re wondering if Jordy is going to cry,” he began, “you can stop wondering. It is my honour to cry for her.”
That was the day I began to realize that I didn’t have to resist my tears all the time—that they are symbols of profound love and a way of honouring the one lost. TO CRY FOR YOU was written out of the journey of learning to let myself be as sad as I actually am, but also discovering that it is when we allow ourselves to mourn that we can be comforted.
TO CRY FOR YOU was debuted live at Hutchmoot in Franklin, TN in October of 2019 (one year after my mom’s death.) It’s such a vulnerable song that I wasn’t sure if I’d ever record it. However, in June of 2020, I shared a video work tape of the song with my Weekly Digest community and many folks told me that they found it cathartic and healing—they gave me the courage to consider recording it properly.
As we worked on my new RECOGNITION project, TO CRY FOR YOU morphed from a guitar mid-tempo to a piano ballad. On the final version, I sang and played piano, and my daughter Bethany Arends offered the perfect harmony vocal. (If you think I’m biased because she’s my daughter, I am! But seriously, have a listen.)
The only other instrumentation on the track is a string quartet arrangement from Nashville’s Love Sponge Strings (arranged by the brilliant Kristin Wilkinson). I bawled when I listened to them record the strings over Zoom, and even now if I’m not careful the instrumental bridge can ambush me. How is it that a violin can speak more than even a human voice?
Since the song released, I’ve been deeply moved by the response. There’s another song on this RECOGNITION record that says “Everyone sits by their own pool of tears.” Sharing TO CRY FOR YOU has shown me that so many of you are carrying such deep loss—some of it fresh, some of it buried—and that, for all of us, grief is the work that love must do.
It is my honour to cry with you.
If you’re curious, here’s the original video worktape.
If you (or someone you love) is currently navigating a journey through grief, my heart goes out to you. Here are some resources that might help.
ARTICLES I’VE WRITTEN:
Stoicism Isn’t Spiritual (this piece tells the story specifically behind TO CRY FOR YOU).
Allow for Space in the Music (about how to help rather than hurt when someone is suffering).
Going Down Singing (why it’s actually good to remember we will die).
Grieving Well Playlist (on Spotify)
Renovaré Webinar (link to recording and resources)
Good Grief: How can we navigate sorrow and loss in life-giving ways?
(with myself, Mark Buchanan, and Douglas Kaine McKelvey)
Every Moment Holy Vol. 2: Liturgies for Death, Grief, and Hope (Douglas Kaine McKelvey)
Journeying through Grief by Kenneth Haugk