Many of the best actors and actresses are especially convincing because they draw from a deep well of personal tragedy.
As I have devoted years to working with hundreds of amateur and professional performers, I believe most would agree with actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s sentiments.
“Be thankful for the hard times,” he said, “for they have made you.” Actors who have honed their craft are often able to redeem brutal experiences by thinking back on them and redirecting the accompanying emotions into brilliant stage and screen performances.
Performing by this method, however, can itself be brutal. When I work with this kind of actor, I am often asked for emotional support, encouragement and even counsel.
Tragedy and difficult circumstances, of course, are not unique to actors. As Longfellow put it, “into each life some rain must fall.”
And, if we’re not experiencing rain ourselves, we often know someone who is. What then?
Redlands author Lauren Briggs offers helpful insights toward comforting those who are enduring heartache in her best-selling book, “The Art of Helping — What to Say and Do When Someone is Hurting.”
She shares 20 years of experience in learning to support those who are facing losses and setbacks with a practical list of tips and approaches.
The mother of three talented adult sons who sing and act, Lauren knows firsthand the melancholy that often informs those talents. She herself is no stranger to tragic circumstances.
“By the age of 8, my first brother had died and my second was diagnosed with the same fatal condition,” she related. “My dog was given away with little explanation and my second brother was placed in a children’s home where he could receive the medical attention he needed. I never saw him again.”
With a degree in psychology and years of experience counseling others, Lauren has worked to redeem her difficult past by writing about her journey.
“My goal is always to be helpful,” she said. “It is a great blessing to assist those in need and I hope to be of practical support. I want to be the resource I wish I had during difficult times.”
Her book provides candid examples of 30 tragic circumstances accompanied by creative ideas and coping strategies.
Fellow writer Emilie Barnes, author of the best-sellers “A Cup of Hope” and “More Hours in My Day,” has high praise for Lauren.
“She has taught me much about what helps us during challenging times,” she revealed.
“I would have loved for all my friends to have had her book during my five years fighting cancer. It should be on everyone’s bookshelf as a reference and to be shared with the hurting.”
“Loss remained a dominant theme throughout my childhood,” Lauren said.
“When my great-grandmother died, I wasn’t allowed at the funeral. Instead, I peeked through the heating ducts to watch what was going on. I think because of those kind of experiences, I also have a real heart for children who encounter death for the first time.”
Lauren has also produced another book, “Making the Blue Plate Special — The Joy of Family Legacies.” Written with Florence and Marita Littauer, this step-by-step resource encourages families to enjoy and preserve their family traditions.
Although she is in demand as a nationally known speaker, Lauren delights in gardening at her Redlands residence and otherwise enjoys the company of her four grandchildren.
She is also active in her husband Randy’s retail business, Collector Galleries. In addition, she sings in both church and community choral groups. Lauren maintains a regular blog as an outreach to those who are experiencing loss and related difficulties through her website, laurenbriggs.com.
“The Art of Helping” is also available on amazon.com. I look forward to counting on Lauren’s resources when I next encounter the “rain that into each life must fall.”
Wayne R. Scott is an award-winning writer, producer and director who serves as President of LifeHouse Theater, Redlands.