64 Songs About Grief and Loss: Volume 1

I don’t think we talk about music nearly enough at What’s Your Grief. You know I don’t even think we have a good excuse, it seems we just take the healing power of music for granted. I know I do.

I lived in a very musical house growing up. My father was a professional opera singer until he retired to spend his days writing children’s operas and rolling around on the floor with his grandchildren. My mother, who played the piano and the guitar, could often be found accompanying my father, directing the church choir, or playing through music books with one of her six children looking for the perfect audition song for the high school musical. Everyone in my family sang – at church, in school, and at every wedding, funeral or family party imaginable. I assumed this was what every family did; just as I assumed it was totally normal to miss school in order to perform the role of angry alveoli in your father’s production of The Night Harry Stopped Smoking. No???

It wasn’t until I was older when I realized that, while we were anything but normal, we were the same in the sense that everyone has their own unique relationship with music. As I became more aware of true pain and suffering I began to understand how ingrained music is in personal coping, familial coping, and the coping of our human race as a whole.

It is scientific fact that music has the capacity to heal with studies showing it can reduce the intensity of pain, motivate, increase endurance, improve sleep, reduce eating, enhance blood vessel function, reduce stress, induce meditative states, relieve symptoms of depression, raise spirits and enhance mood, improve cognitive performance, help people perform better under stress, reduce anxiety, relax, and the list goes on. Although fields like music therapy are relatively new, people have been using music since forever for all the above mentioned purposes. And because no one illustrates this fact better (or more sensationally) than Hollywood, here are a few movie examples.

Roll, Jordan Roll in 12 Years a Slave

Nearer My God to Thee in The Titanic

Bye, Bye Baby in Love Actually

Most grievers, whether they know it or not, have a grief playlist; but because grief is a quiet and personal struggle, our songs are different. The tracks we choose are influenced by our own personal music taste, the music tastes of those we’ve lost, our relationship with the deceased, and the meaning we make of the loss. You may even have several volumes because sometimes you want to listen to songs that make you feel sad, sometimes you want to listen to songs that make you feel hopeful, and oh my goodness there are so many songs to choose from.

A few weeks back we asked our readers to tell us which songs resonate with them in their grief and they gave us some great suggestions. We’ve compiled these along with a few more to make up the playlist, 64 Songs About Grief and Loss: Volume 1. It’s a first volume because we’re hoping to create Volume 2 from the suggestions you give us here in the comment section or on Facebook.

Leave us a comment with your song suggestions and don’t forget to subscribe to receive future posts straight to your e-mail inbox.

March 28, 2017

77 responses on "64 Songs About Grief and Loss: Volume 1"

  1. thank you all for commenting all these songs. I just lost my great grandmother last week and she was my entire world. I know that she wouldn’t want me doing anything wreckless and would want me happy that shes finally in her permanent home. God and music are the only two things thatre making me feel better at this time so that is what im trying my best to do most of. thank you all.

  2. Thank you

  3. I haven’t been able to listen to music (other than the few days after he took his life I listened to In Loving Memory, Alter Bridge and How to Save a Life, The Frey many times) since he took his life.

  4. The song that speaks to me most about the death of my best friend is “Your Goodbye” by Richard Marx. I also really like “Heaven Was Needing a Hero” by Jo Dee Messina.

  5. “Guaranteed” by Eddie Vedder
    “Just Breathe” and “Sirens” by Pearl Jam

  6. I lost one of my best friends on Sunday. And I found the song,”Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance,to be quite healing in the process. I’ve told my friends that my best friend had joined the black parade,since she loved band.

  7. In the arms of an Angel by Sarah Mclachlan, so emotional yet moving?❤️

  8. Just a few that came to mind, my sister lost her husband two months ago, he was her everything, we are still baffled as to why he would take his own life. It was always just the two of them for 20yrs, now she is a young widow with no one.

    Ghost – weighty
    Lord I hope this day is good – Don Williams
    When I’m good and gone – Buddy Jewell & Leslie Satcher
    What a difference you’ve made in my life – Ronnie Milsap

    • I lost the person I was going to marry to suicide. We were together for the majority of a decade. Losing someone to Suicide is the most devastating life altering thing I’ve ever encountered. I don’t know what it is with my family, but no one called…or has called. I called to tell one of them and their response was “that was effing stupid. What a dumbf***”. I have no one supportive in my life. I’m blamed for his death. My support is from strangers on the Internet, or used to when I had it in me to somewhat participate in SOS groups on FB. If your sister is on Facebook I would recommend SOS groups (closed ones only) if and when she’s ready. I’m in some of the best and I can recommend them, however I wouldn’t be able to post them here (To protect my identity and respect the groups). I’ll keep your sister and family as well as her husband’s family in my prayers “until”. I apologize for my rambling. I haven’t left my house or really talked to anyone for about two years. I feel I’ve forgotten how to have fluid conversations. A song for her: In loving memory by Alter Bridge. Prayers and blessings❤️?

  9. Celine Dion every mothers pray beautiful song played it at my daughters funeral Es Sherans small bump x

  10. I watched Titanic. It’s the one reminds me most of Eric’s death. I CAN’T watch ‘World Trade Center.’ I think it’s ridiculous to expect a family member of a victim to be able to watch that. Titanic was close enough and it made me cry anyway. The other song, the one with words saying “far across the distance…”

  11. “Fly” sung by Celine Dion on her 1996 Falling Into You album. Also “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye” sun by Pattie Loveless on her 1993 Only What I Feel album. There are many more but these two come to mind in my present hurt.

  12. I wrote a song specifically for my brother, who killed himself last year, and to those who are suicidal, hopeless and so forth, as well as those in my grief situation. Perhaps this will help those who are navigating the murky waters of processing all that has happened.

  13. My favorite grief song is an After-Death Communication song sung by Tiffany Coburn…. Until We’re Together Again. It’s a song FROM somone who passed TO those left behind.

  14. Where’s mine, I put the translation below.

    https://youtu.be/ugbiJ0gDjpA

    “Thorns, are all that’s left in me,

    The flowers you gave me withered in the meantime.

    Ways, in which I went,

    Now I’m retracing my footsteps,

    after I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

    Everyone has the right to dream,

    Paper boats in the water,

    I only wanted to sail as far away as I could.

    I’m a man from nowhere,

    looking for just a reason to breathe.

    Look, I built us a house,

    when he was born I gave what I didn’t have.

    Thorns, forcefully reminding,

    Not allowing to forget,

    Stabbing us and not letting go.”

  15. It was not a song of grief and loss until that day in May 2010, my father’s memorial service. He was always a big Pink Floyd fan so we sent the song “Wish You Were Here” out to him. Also, Dani and Lizzy’s “Dancing in the Sky”

  16. I’m confused, where is the list of 64 songs?

  17. “death of a loved one” by becky & friends

  18. Would it be too personal a gesture to send someone a link to a song that I feel may sooth them. I subscribe to him on Youtube and have been following his story about the decline and subsequent death of a loved one – but he does not know me. From his favourites list I have been able to ascertain that we share similar taste in music and religious beliefs. The song hints at an afterlife.

    • Profile photo of Litsa Williams

      I think it is a nice gesture and if you acknowledge that grief is different and it may or may not be of comfort, I think you are safe! As much as we never want to say or do the wrong thing after a loss, we don’t want our fear to lead us to do nothing at all!

  19. Hi there. When my 15 year old daughter died 3 and a half years ago, I have found music to be a trigger, and has helped me.

    These are the songs that remind me of her, help me to grieve, and keep me close to her.

    Waiting on an Angel , Ben Harper
    Fix you – Coldplay
    Warning sign – Coldplay
    Grace – Kate Havnevik (be warned.. hits you right in the ouchy parts)
    Dancing in the sky – Dani & Lizzie
    Wish you were here – Pink Floyd
    Daughter – Pearl Jam
    The Healing Room – Sinead O’Connor
    The universe and u – KT Tunstall

    • Profile photo of Litsa Williams

      This is such a great list, Mandy!! When my dad died I listened to Waiting in an Angel obsessively. Every time I hear that song now it reminds me so much of my dad and that time in my life. Haven’t listened to it in a while and probably will after I finish this comment 🙂

  20. Since my hubbie died i find i listen to a lot of songs that reflect the way i feel, theres a few by don wiliams, Your my best friend, Ive been loved by best and a few of his others, but i think the one that knocked me for 6 when i first heard it was Beyond the sunset by Daniel Odonnell

  21. John Lennon – mother
    barry manilow – can’t smile without you
    barry manilow – i made it through the rain
    stevie wonder – all in love is fair
    The Beatles – I’m so tired
    Oh wonder – all we do
    glimpse & madi Larson – dream killer
    james blake – retrograde
    irreplaceable – madilyn paige
    the dancer – Christopher Ferreira
    michael dulin – waltz
    Lee brooks – shine a light
    Paul Cantelon – execution
    Passacaglia – secret garden
    silent wings – secret garden
    Appassionata – secret garden
    Adagio – secret garden

  22. On song I’d like to add is On And On And On by Wilco.

  23. I lost almost a whole day checking out and downloading many of the songs from your two lists. There were some great songs on the two volumes. Thanks for posting them!

  24. Another that wasn’t mentioned is
    When I Get Where I’m Going – Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton

  25. When my grandad died 6 months ago I could talk to anyone so I started to listen to songs that described how I felt and my situations I still struggle to cope even though it’s been half a year already here are a few songs I listen to while I still grieve
    My legs are weak- paloma faith
    Hurt- Christina agularia
    I will see you again- weatlife
    Too hard to say goodbye – weatlife
    If heaven was needing a hero- jo dee
    Slipped away – Avril lavigne
    Lullaby – professor green
    With you- ghost the musical
    In the arms of the angle- Sarah mclachlan
    Missed – Ella Henderson
    Tied together with a smile- Taylor swift
    I will remember you- Sarah mclachlan
    Drink a beer – luck Bryan

  26. i can’t listen to Lullabies by All Time Low without crying because it just means so much to me and makes me miss my mom so much. amazing song.

  27. After many deaths, I listened and sung a dew songs, even though I can’t sing past the second verse without crying.

    I Just Wanted You To Get Old-Nataly Dawn
    Say Goodbye to Yesterday-Boys 2 Men
    Orphan’s Lament -Huun Huur Tu

  28. I found this site by chance while looking for a song to answer the question “If your life were a song, what song would it be?” for a wellness class. I am so grateful that I did. I love music and have been listening to playlists that I had prior to my husband’s death in May. I had no idea that it was possible to be in this much pain and not be physically injured. The music helps so much. I will be looking for some of these songs. One of my favorites is “On Eagle’s Wings” done by any number of artists. Thank you for letting me share.

  29. I’d also like to add/suggest Sarah Mclachlan “Wintersong”. It’s a Christmas-themed song but one about someone not there. If you need an emotional release, starting at about 1:34 it should all come to the surface. http://youtu.be/tuTWA6SBupY

  30. I don’t see the list. Where is it?

  31. Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt is my choice

  32. One I never thought of in terms of loss but gets me every time I hear it now, after the death of my son. “You are so Beautiful to Me.”

  33. “My Man’s Gone Now” from ‘Porgy & Bess’

  34. Music has always been my biggest coping mechanism. It’s the way I got through my dad’s funeral when I was 19-I volunteered to sing at it. The calmest I felt was standing on that platform/stage. I hated sitting there.
    These are a few songs I listen to a lot:
    Beam Me Up-Pink
    Bang the Drum Slowly-Emmylou Harris
    Farther Along-(folk song, lots of people have done it)
    Goodbye to You-Michelle Branch
    Pretty Angry-Blue’s Travelers (a good song when you’re angry at death.)
    When You Come Back to Me Again-Garth Brooks
    Clouds-Zach Sobiech (a boy who had cancer and wrote this song before he died. It’s on iTunes and YouTube.)

    And most of all, I listen to the song, Landslide, by The Dixie Chicks, (originally done by Fleetwood Mac) I hope no one minds, but I made a video to this song about my dad, and about my struggle to find myself after his death and wanted to share it: http://youtu.be/pk9Sg5oJciE

  35. Kill Switch Engage’s song called Rose of Sharyn.

  36. -I hope You’ll Dance
    -I’ll Be Missing You-Puff Daddy & Faith Evans
    -Breathe Me-Sia

  37. Forever by Rascal Flatts

  38. Happy ending- mika
    Grace- kate Havnevik
    Irish rose- oar
    Cab- train
    Daedalus- errolyn wallen

  39. Radios in Heaven – Plain White T’s
    Calling Heaven – Kelly Family
    Will the Circle be unbroken — Johnny Cash
    Tonight – Fm Static
    In loving Memory – Alter Bridge
    Someone’s watching over me – Hillary Duff
    If you could see me now – The Script
    My Soul and my Spirit will go on – Dragonforce
    An Irish Blessing (May the road rise to meet you)
    the Lord Bless you and Keeep you – John Rutter

  40. Love Never Dies – Pattie LaBelle

  41. I’ll see you again- Westlife
    Anchor me-TheTenors (used to be Canadian tenors)

  42. Profile photo of Eleanor Haley

    Oh my goodness, thank you for your suggestions!! I think we are going to end up with quite a few volumes =)

  43. Lots of great ones on this list, here a few more:

    I Want You To Live – George Canyon
    Thank You – Johnny Reid
    Hallelujah – KD Lang
    Go Rest High On That Mountain – Vince Gill
    Forever Love – Reba McEntire
    The Dance – Garth Brooks
    To Where You Are – Josh Groban
    If I Don’t Make it Back – Tracy Lawrence
    Not A Day Goes By – Lonestar
    Damn Right – Terri Clark
    Who Knew – Pink
    Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way – Leann Rimes
    How Do I Let Go – Lisa Brokop
    There You’ll Be – Faith Hill
    Round About Way – George Strait
    Goodbye – Lionel Richie
    Thank You For Giving to the Lord – Ray Boltz
    Beautiful – Amy Grant & Vince Gill
    Please Remember – Leann Rimes
    In This Life I Was Loved By You – Colin Raye
    One More Day – Diamond Rio

  44. So glad to come across your blog. My son died nearly 3 years ago and music has been such a comfort to me. I have burned several CD’s with songs that minister and speak to me. I have given them as gifts to grieving friends. Here is some of my favorites! Fall on My knees-The Browders, Homesick-Mercy Me, Fall Apart-Josh Wilson, All The Broken Pieces-Matthew West, Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus-Casting Crowns, Busted Heart-For King and Country, Save a Place for Me-Matthew West, Need You Now-Plumb, Not Right Now-Jason Gray, Love Will Have the Final Word-Jason Gray. Any old hymn brings comfort as does anything by Steven Curtis Chapman.

  45. Here is the You Tube link to “Next Round of Tears” – thank you for letting me share! <3

  46. Avril Lavigne “wish you were here”
    Supertramp “goodbye stranger”
    Both played on repeat when my younger brother died.

  47. Profile photo of Eleanor Haley

    Thank you for the suggestions!

  48. Profile photo of Eleanor Haley

    Thank you. I love the nod to Rodriguez!

  49. I’m working on an entire set of songs that are specific to grief. Most of them came from my own grief in dealing with the loss of my dad, some from past grief that became deeper in meaning. One of them is called “Next Round of Tears” and I would love to share it, if I may.

  50. Thank you for your “grief mix”. I have many of the songs on you list….”Stars” is my favorite. Here are a few more suggestions. They need a grief station on Pandora!

    Coldplay “The Scientist”
    Gary Allan “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful”
    Rodriguez “I Think of You”

  51. Avril Lavigne- Wish you were here, When you’re gone
    Colbie Caillat cover of Breakeven
    Miranda Lambert- Over you

  52. Profile photo of Eleanor Haley

    Hey Helene,

    The playlist we put together was through iTunes but really just because no where else had all the songs that had been suggested. The previews in the playlist that should show up in the post are all that the playlist plays unfortunately.

    Eleanor

  53. Hi Eleanor,
    I read your blog faithfully.
    Off topic, my sister’s name is Eleanor.
    I’m very interested in the 64 songs, but I am technologically challenged. Are they only available on iTunes? I hope not.

  54. Thank you Eleanor. But it ends up being the parents that I meet who are teaching me! They are all very kind and searching for someone to listen to them, that’s all. I simply accompany them , facilitating telling their story, in a safe place, we call our Telling Room. ( our space at the local public library, which is donated to us every week for 10 weeks. Can you believe their kindness in lending me this community room, at no charge! and also photocopying the workbook I wrote, free of charge ! That’s what I mean by people who are kind. I wish this was also more celebrated in the media!
    Maybe for those who do not play an instrument, they could try a REVERIE HARP. This beautiful instrument is simply strummed and the most relaxing melodies emanate from it…no previous training required. It is great for relaxation and meditation! I have used it in my special needs classes to soothe the children: the delight on their faces was almost tangible ! And now it really adds to my meditation life. Just Google it under video!
    Thanks again for bringing this subject.

  55. Profile photo of Eleanor Haley

    Thank you for those suggestions I am excited to check these out. I totally agree, sometimes even though you just can’t put it in your own words it helps to hear someone else who has.

  56. Profile photo of Eleanor Haley

    Candice, as long as they speak to you that’s all that matters!

  57. Profile photo of Eleanor Haley

    Thank you for the song suggestions. I love Billy Joel’s Lullaby….and Smile always gets me as well.

  58. Profile photo of Eleanor Haley

    Louisa,

    Thank you for the song suggestions. Were any of these favorites of your husbands or are they just songs that remind you of him?

    Eleanor

  59. Profile photo of Eleanor Haley

    Pamela,

    It sounds like your cousin must have touched the lives of many. So many people walking around with memories of him and the lessons he taught them, living on in their hearts, memories and in the art they create. That’s an amazing mark to leave on the world.

    Eleanor

  60. Profile photo of Eleanor Haley

    Linda,

    Oh my I know exactly what you mean about using the piano as a grief tool. My mother played to escape all her stresses and I was the only one of her children who really picked up the instrument (I am not good, but I get by). I’m noticing lately that I’m pulled towards the piano more and more when I need a break and as I play I’m immediately lost in a world of memory and meditation almost. I’m so happy you had this as your coping tool, I’m sure you know that Paganini piece by heart. That’s wonderful that you started a support group as a resources for bereaved parents. It takes a special kind of person to see a need in their grief and fill it. Thank you for the work you do!

    Eleanor

  61. Music is definitely a great healer. It helps when you hear a song that makes you realize that someone else knows how you feel and can express it so beautifully.

    I recently discovered Neko Case who has written some amazing grief songs. Check out ‘I wish I was the moon’ (written after her father’s death) and ‘South Tacoma Way’. Also the Wailin’ Jenny’s ‘the parting glass’ and The Wood Brothers “that’s what angels can do”

  62. A few of mine are a bit older. Some of these might not be considered grief songs for everyone but each one of them speaks to me.

    How can I Help You Say Goodbye by Patty Loveless
    Where’ve You Been by Kathy Mattea
    Hallelujah by Jeff Beck- many renditions of this tune out there.
    Leader Of The Band by Dan Fogelberg
    The greatest man I never knew Reba Mcentire
    Over You by Miranda Lambert
    Into the Mystic Van Morrison

  63. Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
    The Last Beat of My Heart – Devotchka
    Catch the Wind – Donovan
    Ripple – Grateful Dead
    Angel Standing By – Jewel
    I Will Remember You – Sarah McLachlan
    Mother and Child Reunion – Paul Simon
    Smile – Nat King Cole

    Specific to Infant Loss:
    I Will Carry You – Selah
    Kailer’s Song – Adam Wesley
    Lullaby – Billy Joel

  64. Thank you so much for offering this playlist. Music, indeed, helped me to survive during my husband’s journey with leukemia and his eventual home going. I walked miles on the beach, in parks and in my neighborhood listening to Gospel, R&B and oldies but goodies that soothed my broken heart and aching soul. I still do the same thing almost three years later. Some of the titles on my MP3 are: “Walk on by Faith” by Bishop Paul Morton, “On our Wedding Day” by Baby Washington, “I Do Love You” by Billy Stewart, “5,10, 15, 20, 25, 30 Years of Love”, and ” I Do” by Linda Jones and finally, “Learning to Lean” by The Evereadys. So many more that are too numerous to mention. Thank you again!

  65. My cousin Mark was the Principal Pianist and Vocal Coach for the Tulsa Opera. We played opera sons, and other classical music, many from friends and students, including Stephanie Blythe, during his last week. That part of his life literally lives on in those folks he coached, and it all is one part of his legacy. Not only does love live on, so does music.

  66. Thank you so much for this ! I have been playing the piano since I am 7 years old, am qualified to teach it, but don’t: I played for myself and my babies when I was pregnant. When one of our sons, our firstborn, died at the age of 18 from Non Hodgkins lymphoma, my piano became my grief therapy tool: it enabled me to express the whole scale of emotions. And now I still play, 22 years later, offering up the music to our son, wherever he is. His favourite piece was the variation on a theme of Paganini which became the theme song to the movie SOMEWHERE IN TIME.
    I now have founded a support group for bereaved parents, as there was no such help here in this little Northern Ontario town. I always encourage parents who come to group to express feelings through music, whether it’s playing, listening to appreciate or singing along with their favourite songbird ! keep up the good work !

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