Why I Sing When I’m Sad

I was recently interviewed for the Childless and Christian online conference, and while listening back to myself (which can be both horrifying and reassuring), I was struck by how creativity can help us in our grief. 

Five months ago, I was watching a movie when I was struck with an image of my daughter, the girl I hoped to have. If I had brought that daughter into the world, I would have wanted to teach her to play the piano. I was moved to tears by this fantasy, so I sat down at my keyboard and started to sing and play. 

Ten minutes later, I had written a song to the daughter I never had. 

The interesting thing is the song didn’t cure my grief. It didn’t take away the weight of sadness in my heart. It didn’t ‘heal’ me in the strictest sense of the word. It was more of an outlet, a way to express my sadness without having to ‘fix’ it. 

The song didn’t cure my grief. It was a way to express my sadness without having to ‘fix’ it.

I think this is true of many creative outlets. They are a way to express and explore feelings, to lean into them instead of burying them, to acknowledge the mystery and pain without obligation to cure them. Creativity gives us a safe forum for this expression and exploration. 

One thing I love about music, and even about singing, is that you can play and sing without words. Words can be great (I am a writer, after all), but sometimes they are difficult to find. Articulating the pain of ongoing loss can be a struggle some days, if not downright impossible. 

When words elude me, I can sit at my keyboard and play and sing without words. Music can take me to the depths of despair, allowing me to feel all I have fled from, all that is too hard, all that cannot be spoken. And it can lift me too. It can transcend pain. It can make my spirit soar. 

When words elude me, I can play and sing without words.

While music is not necessarily a ‘cure’ for childlessness, there is healing in embracing the musicality of our grief. I have found it helpful for me. Perhaps you find it helpful too. 

Creativity is, of course, not limited to music and writing. I have encountered deep grief and healing in paintings, photos, movies, dance, colours, fresh sunrises, glorious sunsets and the effortless beauty of nature. God has placed his beauty all around us and within us. 

I think creativity shows God’s kindness toward us. It reminds us of his steadfastness. When my life is crumbling, music and writing remain solid and sure, a comfort in the midst of my chaos. Surely this mirrors God’s undying love for us.

Creativity shows God’s kindness toward us.

It demonstrates just how much God cares, that he gives us the means to create, feel, grieve, heal and transcend, even in those dark spaces.

Creativity awaits us. 

What creative endeavours or outlets are calling to you today? How can you utilise creativity to feel and express your life, embracing both beauty and pain? Has creativity ever reminded you of God’s constancy? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation. 

Join the conversation