Grief Soundtrack

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


In 2007 Rolling Stone’s writer Rob Sheffield wrote his memoir, “Love is a Mixtape: Life and Loss One Song at A Time”.  The concept was simple, 22 chapters written around 22 mix tapes. The content was not: grief, love, and a relationship that ended far too soon when his wife, Renee, unexpectedly died of a pulmonary embolism.

love is a mix tape

Rob listens to mixtapes, lots of mixtapes, and he takes us back to the days when we created mixtapes for every mood and every moment. 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 falling asleep.  Through his 22 tapes he reveals to us his deep grief, his incredible memories, and shows us how their love of music inadvertently turns into the music of their love…and life…and loss.

When I was in high school we used boom boxes and cassettes.  I have such vivid memories of the hours I spent combing through my music library, trying 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.  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 days of the mixtape, replaced now by CDs and iTunes, 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 Mixgrief songs
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 the soundtrack of our grief – a soundtrack that we replay over and over because it helps us remember and it helps us to feel.

Create your own play list.  It can make all the difference.  In the words of Peter Rollins, who put it far more eloquently that 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.”

Share your grief soundtrack with us, or at least a song or two.  Leave a comment!

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.

Related Blog Posts

Related Blog Posts

See More

12 Comments on "Grief Soundtrack"

Click here to leave a Comment
  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

    https://victoriawhyte.wordpress.com

  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. […]

Leave a Comment

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED. Required fields are marked *