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Luke Bryan opens up about raising his late sister's children

The country music star opened up on the 3rd hour of TODAY about life after tragedy.
/ Source: TODAY

The past 23 years have been filled with triumphs and tragedies for Luke Bryan.

The country singer married his college sweetheart, Caroline, in 2006 and started a family around the same time he launched a wildly successful music career. But in between the highs were the lows, including the tremendous losses of his brother, Chris, in 1996 and his sister, Kelly, in 2007.

Then, in 2014, another tragedy struck when his sister's husband died, leaving Bryan's nephew, Til, and nieces, Kris and Jordan, without their parents.

During an interview on the 3rd hour of TODAY Tuesday, Bryan opened up about what it's been like to live in the wake of so much loss and to suddenly go from uncle to guardian — and the one person who's made it all manageable.

"I think with us, I mean, obviously, I do it with (the help of) my wife, hand in hand," he told TODAY contributor Jill Martin, noting how much Caroline has supported him and the whole family. "The work that she puts in with the children ... I mean, it's just amazing. I look at her phone and it's just pinging and vibrating and going off constantly, and it's the children."

And he doesn't know how he could navigate any of it without her.

"She's really stepped in and just crushed that role at being someone for them," Bryan said of her impact on the lives of their nieces and nephew, in addition to her impact on their own children, Thomas, 11, and Tatum, 8.

For his part, Bryan's handled it all the only way he knows how.

"You've got to lean on your faith and understand that you have to really hold true that it was God's plan," he continued.

But when that plan involves so much grief, the "American Idol" judge believes it's important to remember that others are suffering too.

"Just when I think I've got it bad, you meet somebody else that's dealing with really, really challenging stuff," he said.

That perspective helps him — and it helps him to help others.

Country music star Luke Bryan opens up to TODAY contributor Jill Martin.
Country music star Luke Bryan opens up to TODAY contributor Jill Martin.TODAY

"I think it's important for me to try to be honest when I'm having good days, bad days," Bryan said. "Then the way I conduct myself, hopefully, and the way our family can inspire some people, you know, that's the special element. If there's any positive side to any of this thing, I have so many fans walk up and go, 'You know, just the way you lived through tragedy's really inspired our family to get through our own personal tragedies and struggles."

And just knowing that, lightens his load a bit.