I’m Gonna Lose You
Words & Music by Steve Siler
Released on Dignity:Songs & Stories for Caregivers
When someone called the Dignity: Songs and Stories for Caregivers “a companion” it was one of the greatest compliments they could have possibly given. One of my goals in creating Music for the Soul was to create songs for people going through difficult life issues so that they would know that they were not alone. I wanted people to know that someone understands what they are going through. I could imagine people thinking, “If there is a song about this then I can’t be the only one who is going through it.”
One lady said that listening to Music for the Soul is “like having a support group in your living room.” I think that function is particularly apt for the issue of care giving.
Caregiving is lonely, exhausting, and time-consuming work. Caregivers can feel trapped and overwhelmed by the mountains of tasks both physical and mental involved in their role. When you add the extreme emotional pain of watching a loved one suffer and/or the frustration of dealing with someone with diminishing physical or mental capacity, well…
I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot of the library in Nashville when the thought came to me that the Dignity project needed a song that faced up to the reality that for most caregivers the end of this process would come with the death of the one for whom they were caring. I called Shelly Beach, one of the primary consultants on the project and asked her if the idea that had occurred to me merited a song. She immediately said yes and talked about the guilt and sense of failure many caregivers feel when they can’t “save” their loved one.
At the time my father was in the midst of caregiving for my mom Carole in what would ultimately prove to be a 16 – year journey. She had developed a rare blood disease called polycythemia vera. It was terminal and with each year additional symptoms and challenges appeared. My dad’s efforts were nothing short of heroic in the process but I remember thinking that morning, “and so the reward is that at the end of all of this my mom is going to die.”
At the risk of sounding like a spoiled child, it didn’t seem fair. But it did seem honest.
And so I began to write:
I’m gonna lose you
No matter how hard I try
You’re gonna leave me
There’s no way to get this right
And even if the care I give
is the best that I can do
When your race is through
I’m gonna lose you
Affirming the Listener
Often, when writing for the contemporary Christian music world, there was an expectation that if a song posed a troubling situation we had to have given the answer to the problem by the tine the song was over. There were times when that just didn’t feel authentic to me. One of the great freedoms writing songs for Music for the Soul provides is the permission to be totally honest.
When I had just completed the lyric to I’m Gonna Lose You when I had breakfast with a legendary Christian music lyricist. After I shared the lyric this writer began to suggest the song would be better if I made the ending more uplifting – as in “we’ll be together in Heaven again someday.”
But the song isn’t about that. The song is about being with the listener where they are right now. They’re afraid, angry, sad, frustrated, and fighting feelings of guilt now. All this song is doing is allowing the listener to identify with the singer who is lamenting the fact that no matter what they do their loved one is going to die. In hearing that story the listener in the same position is affirmed. They don’t have to fight those feelings or feel that they are writing for having them.
Even though they have the assurance that their loved one will be at peace in Heaven, in this moment they can simply acknowledge that there will still be grief.
One day soon you’ll trade this world for heaven
You’ll lay your weary body down
And receive your crown
But… I’m gonna lose you
I received a letter not long after Dignity was released that made me glad I had resisted the suggestion to give the song a happy ending.
“I lived with the knowledge that I was going to lose my daughter for more than two years and was unable to voice it to anyone. I’m Gonna Lose You had me in tears, remembering especially the final months of her life 5 years ago and how I longed to change the outcome. The wonderful thing about this song, which I have now listened to many times, is that it even ministers to the caregiver long after the loss. It reassures me that even though I did my best to take care of my daughter, there was nothing I could do to keep her from leaving. It is, indeed, healing music for the soul, and I thank you for it.”
I would not wish the pain my dad went through losing my mom on anyone. But I believe sharing honestly about that pain honors both the one who experienced it and those who can relate to it. And if it can provide comfort and healing in the process then the song will have done all I could ever hope for it to do.
Listen to I’m Gonna Lose You.