When you are in a high-profile position even private moments, like very personal grief, can have a public component. Your fans feel connected with you, so they share in your grief. This is especially true when your brand is connected with their private moment. For years now, radio host Delilah has been a balm to listeners who are suffering, worried, scared, or in love. They call and ask for advice or make requests, and she always seems to have the perfect song to help them out. So, when the host herself went through a very personal tragedy, many wondered where she would draw the line between her public persona and private grief.
Delilah’s teenage son, Zack, committed suicide, an event that would devastate any parent. It was a double blow to the radio host, because she lost another son a few years back to sickle cell anemia. This time, Delilah took time away from work to grieve, but knew she would eventually return to the airwaves, and, because of the nature of her program, she would be expected to talk about the tragedy. She has done more than that. Delilah has expanded her brand from one that offers musical comfort one caller at a time to a multifaceted movement built to help other people suffering from the unimaginable tragedy. She parlayed her grief and lessons from this terrible time into a book called “One Heart at a Time,” which shares personal stories meant to inspire and help people find a purpose in their lives.
Her message now is both comforts and advise to those who are trying to comfort others. “The worst thing you can do is say, ‘I know how you feel.’ Please don’t say that to somebody who has lost a child because unless you have lost a child, you don’t know how I feel. Please don’t say ‘He’s in a better place.’ I have an amazingly strong faith and I believe that my two boys are at rest with my Lord. I don’t want them there. I want them here, so telling me they’re in a better place is a knife to my eye… They are supposed to be in a better place when they’re 70 or 80 or 90, not 17 or 18.”
She wants to become a conduit to help people know what to say as well, “Just say, ‘I love you… What can I do for you? Can I pick up the kids after school? Can I take you out to dinner? Can I bring dinner to you if you don’t feel like leaving the house…”
Practical advice from a person who built their career offering practical, heartfelt advice to those who were hurting emotionally. In this, we see a tried and true path to success. Delilah didn’t change her message, she expanded on it even as she focused it. Her life changed, but her message remained consistent.