Christina Perri opens up about 'healing' after pregnancy loss last year

Emily Winiker Christina Perri         

When Christina Perri learned she was pregnant last year, she knew she wanted to record an album for her unborn child. 

"I released my first lullaby album, Songs for Carmella, on my daughter Carmella's 1st birthday in 2019, so I set the bar pretty high," the "Thousand Years" singer tells PEOPLE in this week's issue, on newsstands Friday. "I imagined doing one for all my kids." 

During her pregnancy, Perri, 35, picked songs she planned to sing for the personal project. But her joy turned to heartbreak at 33 weeks when her daughter, whom she and husband Paul Costabile had named Rosie, was "born silent."

Despite the painful blow, Perri — who had suffered a miscarriage prior to becoming pregnant with Rosie — thought it was "important" to go ahead and record the album. 

"It was the best way to honor Rosie," she says. "When she passed away, I felt like the songs took on a different meaning, but they're still my song choices for her." 

RELATED: Christina Perri to Release Lullaby Album for Her Daughter Rosie Who Was 'Born Silent'

After spending a year "healing in every way possible" with therapy and music, Perry is ready to release the album, titled Songs for Rosie, on Nov. 24, the first anniversary of the day her daughter was stillborn. 

In addition to covers of classics like "Here Comes the Sun," the album also features a duet with 3-year-old Carmella. 

"I know I'm her mom and a little bit biased, but she is a gifted singer," Perri says. "She's singing in key, and she memorizes lyrics. She knows every word to every Taylor Swift song. She's obsessed with the Cinderella soundtrack and sings every word to that. The new Cinderella movie with Camila Cabello. So she's definitely a singer. Whether she grows up to be one, is up to her." 

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Christina Perri/Instagram Christina Perri, husband Paul Costabile and daughter Carmella         

When they got into the studio, Perri says Carmella "literally looked at me and was like, 'Mom, I got this.' " 

"I thought she was going to need guidance!" she says with a laugh. "She sang so cute. What's funny is she doesn't enunciate perfectly, but I kept it in there because it's the way she sang the song. We tried to keep it light and joyfully sing these songs while thinking of Rosie." 

The family also plans to celebrate Rosie with a trip to Disney World. 

"When November began, it felt like clouds rolling in," Perri says. "Just the word November triggered something deep within me. I will say I've been preparing for this by doing so many healing things to try to be in a good place and ready for this, and I really feel like I am."

"I decided that we're going to go to Disney World every year on Rosie's birthday, because there's no better place to honor a kid than the happiest place on earth," she adds. "To turn a sad day into joy with Carmella is the best thing we can do. We're going full out with shirts, and we're going to talk about Rosie the whole time." 

RELATED VIDEO: Christina Perri's Daughter 'Born Silent' in the Third Trimester: 'We Lost Our Baby Girl'

In addition to Songs for Rosie, Perri hopes to release a new album next spring. 

"It'll really be a collection of everything I've been through in the past five years since I recorded my last album," she says. "In the past five years, I've had the most amazing things happen, like having a daughter, getting married, and all these things in my personal life. But also these tragic things have happened, and the world and the pandemic." 

"Everyone's gone through an emotional couple years, and I feel like I have used all the emotions that I have to write new music," she shares. "I feel like I didn't know what I was going to do after my first two records because I just wanted to have a family and chill out for a bit, so the fact that I'm coming back and singing feels like an honor." 

RELATED: Christina Perri Reflects on 'Extra Hard' Year on Mother's Day After Pregnancy Loss: 'We Keep Healing'

Ashley Osborn

Since sharing about her pregnancy loss, Perri says she's never felt so loved and supported. 

"I think I was reached out to more when Rosie passed away than ever before in my life, more than when I got a song in Twilight, more than when I played on TV or met so-and-so," she says. "People have sent love, flowers, food, wind chimes, prayers, trees … People planted trees all over the world for Rosie! I felt so supported, and I really have to give credit to having this platform and being able to share openly like that. It healed and made me and my family feel very loved."

Perri says that she and her family have also grown "tighter than we ever knew we could be" since losing Rosie. 

"We all really healed together as a family," she says. "Paul and I changed as people going through something like that, and we're so much more present with Carmella. We're so much more compassionate, and I feel like we just love a lot deeper."

"Paul is such a good dad," she says of the TV host. "I feel like, now, there's just such a different parenting vibe. Without even needing to ask, Paul's always right there."

Through it all, Perri says she's learned "how truly strong women are." 

"I'm not even talking about cliché superwoman stuff, just in general," she explains. "The intuition that's built into us when we become parents is crazy. I just feel like Carmella has made me a stronger person, and also a more confident person. I don't think about insecurities that I had in my 20s. Now that I'm in my 30s and I'm a mom, I feel more at peace with who I am." 

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