How to cope with the departure of a group member

It’s an unfortunate reality of the music industry that members sometimes leave their groups. The member’s departure often sends a shockwave through the fandom, leaving fans confused, hurt, upset, and uncertain where to go from here.

So what’s a fan to do in these circumstances? How can you handle a member’s departure in a godly and healthy way, especially if that member is your favorite?

First: Recognize that you have a reason to feel upset.

Well-meaning people may try to console you by saying it’s “just a boy band” or “only a girl group” and that you’re overreacting. Anyone who has ever been a fan knows that these performers are more than that. They’re role models, friends, even family. Some of their songs cheer you up when you’re sad, giving you confidence and encouragement, and others have comforted you and given you hope during difficult times in your life. Perhaps you even hope your future spouse will share some of these performers’ traits.

The grief you’re experiencing is normal and justified, which brings us to …

Second: Express your grief in healthy ways.

Talk to other fans or a trusted friend or relative about what you’re feeling. Go to the gym and take out your frustrations on the punching bag. Listen to your favorite songs by that group and have a good cry.

Abstain from expressing your grief in ways that hurt yourself or others. Don’t self-medicate with food, alcohol, or drugs. Don’t cut or harm yourself. Don’t flame the performers, their loved ones, their agency, or other fans on social media. Methods such as these will not help you to deal with your feelings and will only create more difficulties for you (addictions, health problems, a bad reputation) in the long term.

Grief, sadness, anger, and other such emotions must be expressed and dealt with in healthy ways. Otherwise, they can take root in our lives and prevent us from moving forward. As it says in Ephesians 4:26–27 (NIV), “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

This brings us to a crucial step in the healing process …

Third: Pray.

Talk to God about what you’re feeling. Don’t hold back; He can handle your anger, sadness, disappointment, and any other emotions you’re experiencing. After all, He created you, so He understands what you’re feeling even better than you do (Psalm 139:1–4). Ask Him for comfort, for healing, for understanding – He can provide all these things and more (James 1:17).

After you’ve vented to the Lord, pray for the performers – those who are remaining in the group and the one who has departed. Pray for their health and well-being, pray for their careers and their futures, pray for their relationships with God. (My Prayers for Oppa performer/fan devotional book is a great resource for this. For information on how to purchase it and a sample chapter, click here.)

As mentioned earlier, prayer is an absolutely crucial step in the healing process. It brings us comfort and a sense of security and control in the midst of uncertain circumstances, for it reminds us that God is ultimately in charge of the situation and that He will take care of us and the performers in accordance with His will and purposes.

And for those who love and trust Him, these purposes are ultimately good. As Romans 8:28 (NIV) tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) further states, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

It’s okay if we don’t understand the details of what’s happening and why. We just need to know the One who does and to ask Him for His continued care for us and for these performers.

Fourth: Understand it’s okay to no longer support the group or the departed performer.

You may decide you want to continue to support the group as well as the performer who left. You may decide you want to support one or the other, or you may decide you’re no longer a fan of the group or the departed performer. All of these are valid decisions to make, and you have the right to make any of them.

On a related note, some fans are of the mindset that if you stop supporting a group after a member leaves, you were never a true fan of the group – you were only a fan of that member. This is not necessarily true. Think of the group as a pizza and the departing member as pepperoni. You love pepperoni pizza, but you don’t like plain cheese pizza – there’s just something missing from the flavor and the texture.

Does this mean you don’t like pizza? No. It just means you like pepperoni pizza. Likewise, this doesn’t mean that you would want to eat a whole pile of pepperoni on its own. It simply means that you like that combination.

Fifth: Focus on the positive.

Continue to enjoy what the group has released and treasure the memories you have because of them. Depending on your decision in regards to the fourth point, you may be looking forward to new releases and projects from the group and/or the performer or you may be looking to venture into new musical territory. Whatever your decision, you can have hope and rejoice in the God who makes all things new. As Isaiah 43:19 (NIV) says, “‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’”

– Teresa Santoski

Looking for more godly encouragement geared specifically toward performers and fans? Check out Prayers for Oppa, my performer/fan devotional, which features prayers and Bible verses on Good Health, Performance Safety, Loneliness, and other topics of interest to performers and their fans. For more information, including a sample chapter and how/where to purchase, click  here.

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