“Nashville” fans aren’t the only ones affected by the show’s latest death. (Spoiler Alert: Stop reading if you have not watched Season 5, episode 9 yet.) Rayna Jaymes was killed off after Connie Britton decided to leave the CMT drama. Rayna died with her family surrounding her, and those actors have since posted heartfelt notes to social media about Britton’s influence on them.

Charles Esten plays Rayna’s true love Deacon. Their romance has always been a focal point, so they’ve spent plenty of time together. He shared a behind-the-scenes photo from their very first day on set.

“I took this picture almost 5 years ago on my first day of shooting #nashville with @conniebritton. I was already a fan,” Esten wrote. Now, after all this time, she’s my friend. And I’m an even bigger fan. I’m grateful for every scene, and for every song, and I wish her nothing but the very best.”


A post shared by Charles Esten (@charles_esten) on

Esten revealed to Entertainment Weekly that Rayna’s death scene was difficult to film. Having Rayna’s children there, however, made the sequence more difficult because of Esten and Britton’s parental nature. “The children made it harder,” Esten said. “They’re dealing with it at a younger age and so all of my instincts of protection kick in and Connie’s too. Anytime you bring kids into the mix, that makes it even more difficult.”

Rayna’s daughters Maddie and Daphne, played by Lennon and Maisy Stella, also pulled off some serious dramatic acting during Britton’s final scene. Lennon, 17, and Maisy, 13, were 12 and 8, respectively, when they started filming the show. They each wrote individual letters about the impact Britton had on their lives.

Lennon couldn’t quite find the words for her goodbye until the weekend after Britton’s last episode aired. “I remember walking on set for the first time, an absolutely terrified 12 year old and being instantly comforted by a welcoming hug from the warmest, glowing, most beautiful Connie Britton,” the songwriter revealed. “I have grown so much because of you, and I will take it all with me.” Read her full letter below:

Maisy put her goodbye up just hours after the episode aired. “Connie has taught me everything I know as an actor,” the “In the Waves” co-author wrote. “She has been a set mother to me since I was 8. She has been someone I look up to so much.” See her whole message below:

Britton posted her own goodbye to everyone on Instagram Thursday night. “You were the energy source, the power behind her heart and soul and life. Rayna lived for you. And, from the depths of my heart, I thank you, for her and for me. It has been an honor to be a part of that creation. And as I know she would want it, the show must, and will go on,” she wrote.

As a main character, the plan wasn’t always to kill off Rayna. However, the actress felt it was time to leave the CMT drama, and Rayna’s death was the only way to explain Britton’s permanent absence.

Britton isn’t done with the show yet, though. As the characters on “Nashville” Season 5 deal with her death, they’ll see Rayna in their memories. Episodes 10 and 11 are set to feature flashbacks, but we don’t yet know who will be remembering the country star so vividly.

“Nashville” Season 5 airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST on CMT.