Grief Soundtrack

Books, Movies, and Music / Books, Movies, and Music : Litsa Williams

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We've written a few articles about grief soundtracks and music on WYG. But way back in the beginning, we were first inspired by Rolling Stone's writer Rob Sheffield's 2007 memoir, "Love is a Mixtape: Life and Loss One Song at A Time."

The book's concept was simple, 22 chapters written around 22 mixtapes (for you young ones, mixtape = playlist). However, the content was not: grief, love, and a relationship that ended far too soon when his wife, Renee, unexpectedly died of a pulmonary embolism.

Rob is an avid mixtape listener, and he takes us back to the days when many of us created mixtapes for every mood and moment. For example, the "You Like Music, I Like Music, I Can Tell Were Going to Be Friends" mixtape, the Break-Up mixtape, mixtapes for dancing and doing the dishes, and mixtapes for falling asleep. Through his 22 tapes, he reveals his deep grief and incredible memories and how he and his wife's shared love of music morphed into the music of their love, life, and loss.

Your Grief Mixtapes

When I was in high school, we used boom boxes and cassettes. I have vivid memories of the hours I spent combing through my music library to create the perfect playlist. And when I didn't have that perfect song-- listening to the radio and waiting to push record at just the right moment to capture it.

So I had to choose my songs wisely because I only had so much room, and OH THE FRUSTRATION when Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start the Fire' got cut off because Side A ran out. Gone are the mixtape days, replaced now by streaming services, but the emotions behind a well-crafted playlist are still the same.

Like Sheffield says, "…there are all kinds of mixtapes. There is always a reason to make one." Before someone important to you died, you may only have had reason to make "Pump It Up: Gym Mix Tape #1"; but now the occasions are endless.

Cheer Me Up Mix
Energizing Mix
Mix to Make Me Strong
I Feel Crappy Today Mix
I Want to Be Sad Mix
Remembering You Mix

The songs on these playlists are your grief soundtrack; perhaps some that you play over and over because they help you to remember and feel.

grief soundtrack

Have you created a grief soundtrack (or mixtape or playlist?) 

We think you should. In the words of Peter Rollins, who put it far more eloquently than we could ever hope to, 

"No matter how great a song is it cannot raise the dead, cure cancer or make your lost lover return. Music does not change the world you live in, reverse time, or change history. It does not promise snake oil solutions to life’s woes. But music is anything but impotent; indeed it can be experienced as one of the most potent forces in our universe. For music can assist us in changing the way that we interact with the world we live in.  Great music can help us to affirm life, embrace it, face it and sublimate it. In other words, music can help sensitize us to, and celebrate, the life that we participate in."

Looking for more about grief and music?  We have tons of posts on that topic. Check out all of our grief and music posts, or some specific posts linked here:

We invite you to share your grief soundtrack with us, or at least a song or two.  Leave a comment!

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

We wrote a book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
real-life book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books:

Let’s be grief friends.

We post a new article to What’s Your Grief about once a week. Subscribe to stay up to date on all our posts.

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12 Comments on "Grief Soundtrack"

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  1. VW  June 16, 2019 at 9:51 am Reply

    I have listened endlessly to the movie soundtrack of “The Red Violin” – so mournful with those sweet strings that just break my heart with their beauty again and again. Joshua Bell, the soloist, is my grief hero. Somehow it’s a little bit of salve after my son’s suicide. I think the matching of sorrowful sounds to my emotional sorrow is easing me through the days.

    When my son had his first hospitalization for mental illness 11 years ago, I listened to “Requiem” by Eliza Gilkerson over and over (and over and over). It was the only music I could find that spoke to my broken heart and spirit. Again, it somehow stabilized me so I could function.

  2. Simone  February 23, 2016 at 5:37 pm Reply

    My heart will go on by Celine Dione
    Lost without your love by bread
    Sleep’s dark and silent gate by Jackson Browne
    Song for Adam by Jackson Browne

  3. Victoria  June 5, 2015 at 3:38 am Reply

    These are some of the songs that bring me comfort since my teenage daughter Leah died last year from the side effects of her cancer treatment:

    1) Worn by 10th Avenue North
    2) No Man Is An Island by 10th Avenue North
    3) Never Once by Matt Redman
    4) Blessings by Laura Story
    5) Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns
    6) Somewhere Only We Know by Lily Allen
    7) Oceans ~ Where Feet May Fail by Hillsong
    8) A Beautiful Life by Mikeschair

  4. patrick  April 25, 2015 at 2:07 am Reply

    I’d add Falconer Portals of light
    creed, arms wide open
    eric clapton tears in heaven
    psalm 102
    Johny Cash- hurt, so lonesome I can cry,
    Phantom of the opera Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again

  5. Chelsea  April 25, 2015 at 1:54 am Reply

    My Grief Soundtrack

    1. Amazing Grace – Celtic Women
    2. Address in the Stars – Caitlin & Will
    3. All of Me – Matt Hammit
    4. All of the Stars – Ed Sheeran
    5. Always on Your Side – Sheryl Crow
    6. Angel – Sarah McLachlan
    7. Angel Wings – Artist Unknown
    8. Angels on the Moon (Acoustic) – Thriving Ivory
    9. Blessings – Laura Story
    10. Brave – Idina Menzel
    11. Come to Jesus – Jerico Road
    12. Even If – Kutless
    13. Far Away – Nikcleback
    14. Fire and Rain (Glee Version) – Glee Cast
    15. For Good – Kristin Chenoweth & Idina Menzel
    16. Forever – Rascal Flatts
    17. Forgiven – Within Temptation
    18. Friends Never Say Goodbye – Road to El Dorado Cast
    19. Go Rest High On that Mountain – Sandi Patty
    20. Heaven Got Another Angel – Gorden Garner
    21. Heaven Was Needing a Hero – Jo Dee Messina
    22. Held – Natalie Grant
    23. The Hurt & The Healer – MercyMe
    24. I Dreamed a Dream – Anne Hathaway
    25. I Miss You – Blink 182
    26. I Will Not Say Goodbye – Danny Gokey
    27. I Will Remember You – Sarah McLachlan
    28. If I Never Knew You – Tiffany Thorton
    29. Love Will Find A Way – Chorus/Gene Miller/Liz Callaway
    30. My Immortal – Evanescence
    31. Never Alone (Acoustic Version) – BarlowGirl
    32. No Surrender – Glee Cast
    33. One More Day – Diamond Rio
    34. A Place Nearby – Lene Marlin
    35. Please Remember Me – Tim McGraw
    36. Red River Valley – Suzy Bogguss
    37. Seasons of Grace – Helma Sawatzky
    38: Seasons of Love – Rent
    39. Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
    40. Starts With Goodbye – Carrie Underwood
    41. Tears of an Angel – RyanDan
    42. Tell Your Heart to Beat Again – Danny Gokey
    43. Things Left Unsaid (Acoustic) – Disciple
    44. There You’ll Be – Faith Hill
    45. With Hope – Steven Curtis Chapman
    46. You’ll Be In My Heart – Phil Collins
    47. Whenever You Remember – Carrie Underwood
    48. Visitor from Heaven – Artist Unknown

    • Linda  April 25, 2015 at 9:33 am Reply

      So Far Away – Avenged Sevenfold
      Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day
      Oasis – Tarja Turunen
      Now We are Free (Theme from Gladiator) – Lisa Gerrard

  6. Linda  April 30, 2014 at 9:43 pm Reply

    This is everything I’ve felt in the deepest darkest moments:

    Oasis by Tarja Turunen

  7. Ari-Amber  March 2, 2014 at 2:37 am Reply

    I have written my own soundtrack through several songs that flowed out of me during the intensity of grief. I would love to share them with you! <3

    • Eleanor  March 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm Reply

      Yeah, would love to hear!

  8. Weekend Edition: March 24, 2013 - What's Your Grief  March 24, 2013 at 11:26 am Reply

    […] couch, we have talked here about exercise as important for self-care, and we have also talked about how we use music and playlists to help with mood.  Scientific American posted this week about the psychology of a good workout playlist.   If […]

  9. Crying In Public. Like a Rockstar. -  March 4, 2013 at 12:22 am Reply

    […] 10)  Play some happy music.  We just posted on music as something that can have a real impact on your mood.  Keep a playlist or CD of songs that cheer you up handy on your phone, computer, mp3 player, in your car etc so you can listen to it when you need to pull yourself together.  A break in your car and a happy song can sometimes be enough to regroup, wipe your tears, and go back to working, shopping, socializing, or whatever else you were doing.  Check out our grief playlist post. […]

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