They say that art follows life, and as Nashville star Charles Esten films new episodes exploring the effect of Rayna Jaymes' death on the show's storyline and characters, he draws on his own personal experiences. Esten explains that, as an actor, filming emotional scenes is almost like therapy, allowing him to tap into similar emotions from real-life experiences.

“In another way, it’s also cathartic, it helps you process that pain, [and] in a real way, you’re helping other people to process pain,” Esten tells Taste of Country. “As hard as that was, honestly, tears can be cleansing; there’s people that, that scene meant very specific [things] to them and their memory, and hopefully on the other side of it, that helped bring them forward in some way, especially along with the music that can do that job as well.”

On Nashville, after the heart-wrenching loss of main character Rayna (Connie Britton), the TV drama's remaining characters are faced with emotional turmoil and a struggle to grieve individually. What that means for Deacon is something that Nashville viewers will discover in the second half of Season 5.

"Deacon’s been to the rock bottom, and with the help of Rayna, he found his strength, and he was able to be strong and stand up and be the man he always wanted to be,” Esten explains. “Now in the light of this, we’ll have to [answer] the question, did she help make him strong enough that he can even survive without her? ... One of the last things he did with Rayna was promise her that he would take care of these girls, so the challenge is, can he do that, can he stand up and be the man that he needs to be?”

Without Rayna, Deacon and daughters Maddie and Daphne Conrand (Lennon and Maisy Stella) look ahead to an uncertain future as Season 5 gets set to return on June 1 ... but not too uncertain: Nashville has been renewed for a sixth season.

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