My name is Coby Grant and on January 11th, I posted a videoclip of a song I wrote for a family who lost their newborn son. He was stillborn. The video has since gone viral, with 2.8 million views and 40 thousand shares, which is beyond any expectations we had.
Below is the story of how this song came to be, but I want to say that for me, it was an incredible honour to be asked to write it. I can’t fully express with words what an emotional journey it has been, but I do know that it is one of the most significant songs of my entire songwriting career.
In late 2016, I sang at a couple’s wedding. It was one of the most beautiful weddings, simply because I could feel the love in the room – between the couple, their friends, their families. Sometimes there is just magic.
The glowing bride was also pregnant.
In December of that year, I received a message from the father of the groom (who is the one who originally found me and asked me to sing at the wedding), to let me know that their child, his grandson, was stillborn. Also to let me know that my own music was providing a comforting soundtrack during this difficult and heartbreaking time.
As a huge lover of music, he told me that he wanted to write a song for his grandson to give to his son and daughter-in-law, to capture the love they all felt for this child and to honour his memory. He asked me if I could help him write this song. With a heavy heart, I of course said yes.
Over the next few months, the grandpa sent me pages of thoughts, poetry, words and feelings. I was inspired by those words. I also drew inspiration from my own friends who have lost children, whether that be from SIDS, stillbirth, or even later in life in other tragic circumstances. Anyway, we really wrote this song together.
It was then produced and recorded in The Netherlands, with my long time friend and collaborator Jack van de Ven. The musicians who performed on my previous album worked their magic and made the song what it is. I recorded my vocals in Australia, so it was very much an international project.
The songs were then packaged together into a Winter Bear CD that the grandpa gave to his son and daughter-in-law. As you can imagine, it was quite overwhelming for them. They were and are extremely touched and grateful for the incredible gift he gave.
When I was last in The Netherlands, I performed the song live for the family in an intimate house concert. It was, by a long shot, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but also the most beautiful and moving moment I have ever had the honour to be a part of. They told me that they listen to Winter Bear every day and that it brings them peace and comfort.
The song was only meant to be for them, but as time went on, it became bigger than that and we decided to film this video and release the song into the world. We all hoped that it would touch other people who have lost their children – as babies or later in life. That it might bring a small amount of hope or peace or comfort in the face of this kind of loss. None of us could have possibly imagined the response to the song since I posted the video.
Listen to Coby’s beautiful song here:
I have received thousands of messages from bereaved parents thanking me for Winter Bear, for giving them a voice, for helping them to express the way that they feel about their beautiful Angel babies. I am an incredibly emotional person so I have spent a lot of time replying to people through my tears, but I will absolutely do my best to respond to each and every one.
These are just a few of the people the song has touched.
“Dear Coby, I just wanted to say thank you ever so much for that beautiful yet sad song you’ve written. It has a particular meaning for me also. Today two months ago I gave birth to my beautiful son Christian Samuel. He was born still. The world needs more awareness and I know you started making a difference. Thank you for that.”
“I know you get messages a lot but my precious son was born Jan 17th. He gained his wings in my womb and I’ve listened to your song every day. You have helped me through this nightmare. I wanted to tell you thank you.”
“I just heard your song Winter Bear this morning. I think I’ve listened to it a dozen times already. It spoke directly to my soul and I felt as if it had been written just for us. My husband and I had our stillborn son the day of our 40 week checkup, just five days before Christmas, his actual due date…our vey own little ‘Winter Bear’… Your voice, those lyrics, the guitar…you’ve made something magical and I felt you should know that. You’ve given all of us grieving parents something so beautiful to connect with. Thank you.”
LISTEN: Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo speak to Bec Sparrow, about what we could possibly say to a mother who’s lost a child. (Post continues below.)
“Thank you for writing your song Winter Bear. I just heard it for the first time and silently cried for my own daughter who was also stillborn. She would be eight next week. I love the power of music and your ability to beautifully and tenderly put the emotions surrounding such a life changing loss into such a gentle but perfect song is a true gift. Thank you.”
“I have found great comfort in listening to music and writing since losing my daughter and listening to the words of your song it’s as if I could’ve written it myself. Every lyric, line and verse resonates so much in my heart. I can’t even put it into words how much it touched me. Thank you so much for creating such a beautiful song. This will bring immeasurable comfort to so many parents who have lost children, to know they are not alone. Thank you from me for putting all of my thoughts and words in a song that truly tells the devastation that I have felt since my daughter was born.”
I’m really proud of myself and of the entire team behind this project. For me, music was always about human connection. The ability to touch people, to bring them together through joy, love, heartache, forgiveness or pain. Music is the language we all understand and I feel very lucky to have it as such a huge part of my life.
Thank you to this family and all of the families who have let my music into their hearts and homes.
Cody will be donating half of the proceeds of Winter Bear to charities or organisations that support families who have lost a child or research into SIDS/stillbirth.
You can buy or stream the song at any of these places: http://hyperurl.co/mu2k4p
If you or a loved one has experienced pregnancy loss and need someone to talk to, support is available 24/7 via SANDS’s confidential helpline. Please call on 1300 072 637.