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Grief Songs

Grief Songs: Music for a Grieving Heart

© by Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT

Grief Songs: Music for a Grieving HeartPeople have known for centuries that music touches the human soul. We know intuitively that music affects us in profound and healing ways, both emotionally and physically, and present-day research demonstrates this to be true. In health care settings such as hospitals, clinics and hospices, music therapy is found to be remarkably effective in helping to calm patients, reduce stress, ease muscle tension, promote movement and manage pain.

. . .one of the most beautiful gifts that humans have brought to the earth is music. In great music, the ancient longing of the earth finds a voice . . . Music ministers to the silence and solitude of nature; it is one of the most powerful, immediate, and intimate of sensuous experiences. Music is, perhaps, the art form that brings us closest to the eternal because it changes immediately and irreversibly the way we experience time. When we are listening to beautiful music, we enter into the eternal dimension of time. Transitory, broken linear time fades away, and we come into the circle of belonging within the eternal. The Irish writer Sean O’Faolain said, “In the presence of great music we have no alternative but to live nobly.” [John O’Donohue, in Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, pp. 72-73]

The First Year of Grief e-course by Marty TousleyThe First Year of Grief: Help for the Journey Understand the nature of grief and loss and their potential impact on all aspects of your life: physical, financial, emotional, social and spiritual. Learn how to move through grief actively and make the process of mourning a healing one. Find support and guidance in dealing with the many facets of grief. Learn more about this source of online support by grief counselor Marty Tousley.

When we are struggling with grief, music can lift us up, take us out of our current mood, and transport us to another time and place. When we cannot find the words, a particular song may express our thoughts and feelings even better than we are able to do.  With lyrics or without, music can be used as an escape or a respite from our pain, or as a form of relaxation or meditation while we confront our sorrow.  Music helps us to remember the one who died, and it can help to bring a sense of balance, peace and harmony back into our lives, even if only for a moment.

The following message was posted recently by one of our members in the Behaviors in Bereavement Forum on our Grief Healing Discussion Groups Web site:

. . . I have been listening to music that makes me both happy and sad, because it reminds me of my dad. Some of the lyrics make me cry, and some make me smile. I should probably only share the happy stuff, but no, this site also acknowledges the sad feelings, I feel. So, I don’t mean to make everyone sad, but I wanted to share a song:

If I Could Be Where You Are - Enya

Since this post first appeared in mid-December of  2008, several other members have added links to a number of beautiful songs  whose lyrics have touched them in some meaningful way. Due to copyright claims,  you may find that, when you click on the links we’ve included below, some of the  videos no longer appear on YouTube.  If that is the case, try typing the title  of the song and the artist into YouTube’s search engine to see if another  rendition of the song comes up for you.

If you’ve found a special song that soothes you or helps you remember your loved one, you are invited to add it to our list by posting it in a comment:

Heaven Was Needing a Hero - Jo Dee Messina
My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion
Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler
Bridge Over Troubled Waters - Simon & Garfunkel
Smile - Chris Rice
I Know You by Heart - Eva Cassidy
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You - Rod Stewart
Last Time by Moonlight - Enya
You Raise Me Up - Josh Groban
To Where You Are - Josh Groban
Remember Me - Josh Groban
You’re Still You - Josh Groban
For Always - Josh Groban and Lara Fabian
Smile - Josh Groban
In the Arms of The Angel - Josh Groban & Sarah McLachlan
Vincent - Josh Groban
When I Get Where I’m Going - Brad Paisley
You Can Let Go - Crystal Shawanda
Thank You - Johnny Reid
Until We’re Together Again - Tiffany Coburn
Mama - il Divo
Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Leona Lewis
Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s Version
A Living Prayer - Alison Krauss
At Last - Etta James
I Miss You - Avril Lavigne
So Far Away - Carole King
Yesterday - The Beatles
Time - Alan Parsons Project
I’ll Stand by You - Carrie Underwood
I Believe - Diamond Rio
One More Day - Diamond Rio
I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing - Aerosmith
Livin’ Without You - TmobileTerrorist
Saying Goodbye to You - Karina Long
I Want You to Live - George Canyon
Without You - Mariah Carey
Memory - Barry Manilow
The Twelfth of Never - Johnny Mathis
All Things Must Pass - George Harrison
If Tomorrow Never Comes - Barry Manilow
If I Should Love Again - Barry Manilow
Together Forever - Rico J. Puno
Answer - Sarah McLachlan
I Will Find You - Theme from The Last of the Mohicans
Holes in the Floor of Heaven - Billy Kirsch and Steve Wariner
The Dance - Garth Brooks
The Living Years - Mike and the Mechanics
Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel) - Billy Joel
I’ll Be Seeing You - Jimmy Durante
Memory -Barry Manilow
The First Year of Grief eBook by Marty Tousley First Year of Grief - support Heartfelt Condolence Letters eBook by Marty Tousley Condolence Letters How to Write A Eulogy eBook by Marty Tousley Eulogy - How to eBook


58 Responses to “Grief Songs”

  1. shelley starkey on January 11th, 2009 1:49 am

    the bridge over trouble water song does not work on this site…

  2. admin on January 11th, 2009 4:22 pm

    We’ve swapped in a different version to fix the problem.

    Thanks, Shelley.

  3. Catherine Auman on January 14th, 2009 1:56 am

    Marty, this is a beautiful article and list of songs. I just posted a similar article myself on the healing power of bossa nova and African music. You might check it out. Great list, thanks.

  4. Katie on January 14th, 2009 12:49 pm

    My friend posted this on a myspace bulletin and when I heard it I knew I wanted to pass it along. For anyone who likes Mariah Carey this is a good song to listen to. It’s called Bye Bye.

  5. Katie on January 14th, 2009 12:51 pm

    Sorry here is the video for Mariah Carey’s song Bye Bye.

  6. Kath on January 15th, 2009 5:46 pm

    I could spend all day on this site. This song by Mercy Me is just one that speaks to and of my heart.

  7. admin on January 16th, 2009 6:13 pm

    If I Only Had The Words - Todd Herzog

  8. CONNIE SCOTCHIE on January 20th, 2009 12:11 am


    Freebird, by Lynyrd Skynard -

  9. Karen Blackford on January 20th, 2009 12:46 pm

    Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” ( is a great song … He wrote it for his little son when he died. I feel his pain and my pain also whenever I listen to it….

  10. sandy on January 20th, 2009 5:43 pm

    I have enjoyed listening to all of these songs. Thank you for the list. My son has been gone from my arms for 5+ years. I miss him terribly every day. The years have not gotten easier, just different. I have several songs I listen to that bring me some comfort: Dancing With the Angels (by Monk & Neagle), Godsend (by Dixie Chix), This is Your Time (by Michael W. Smith), Homesick (by MercyMe) and He is My Son (by Mark Schultz).

    Sandy Jergens Ardolf

    Dancing with The Angels, by Monk and Neagle -

    [Godsend, by The Dixie Chicks - No Video Available]

    This Is Your Time, by Michael W. Smith -

    Homesick, by MercyMe -

    He’s My Son, by Mark Schultz -

  11. Mary Linda Graham on January 21st, 2009 12:20 pm

    Tom and I went to see LOVE STORY on our honeymoon. After the fact, needless to say we realized that was not the best movie to see in this situation. Little did I realize eventually I would be living my own LOVE STORY.

  12. Joy on January 22nd, 2009 10:54 am

    I would like to recommend a song

    Go Rest High on that Mountain by Vince Gill

    Thank You. This is a very nice list. I am passing it along to many people that will appreciate it.
    Thank You.

  13. Lucille Vincent on January 24th, 2009 11:56 am

    The song I Hope You Dance by Ronan Keating reminds me of Melissa, my wonderful daughter. She certainly did dance during her all too short life. Melissa moved away from home to follow her dreams in NYC. She was at the top of her game, enjoying life. as well as her job at the WTC. On September 11, 2001, Melissa stopped dancing

  14. Chai on January 26th, 2009 4:11 am

    The song “I’ll Be There” by Escape Club, Marty I know you wanted that one added to the list, and me, too.

    Also, the video I made for my dad with the song “Last Time by Moonlight” is available here:

    This page of music is wonderful! :)

  15. Maylissa on January 27th, 2009 8:08 am

    3 songs by Beth Neilsen Chapman:
    I Find Your Love -

    Sand and Water -

    Say Goodnight Not Goodbye -

    (hope these keep working; her songs keep getting removed due to copyright laws)

  16. Patti on January 30th, 2009 8:36 pm

    From Patti:
    This is an awesome page. Thank you for starting it. Here was my dad’s favorite song: Bring the Rain, by Mercy Me:

    It started to rain just as my dad passed. He loved his water and rain is his way of saying Hi.

  17. Maylissa on February 8th, 2009 8:40 pm

    A song to remind yourself of the self-care needed in grief: “Gentle With Myself” by Karen Drucker

  18. Marty Tousley on February 10th, 2009 1:31 am

    From The Compassionate Friends, for bereaved parents everywhere ~ the touching and beautiful song, Precious Child (music and lyrics by Karen Taylor-Good):

  19. Tony Falzano on February 10th, 2009 10:53 pm

    Thanks so much for the reminder of how music helps us to heal.

    I invite your readers to hear the album, “In Abba’s Arms” which has been used as an”inspirational companion” to those searching for healing and hope.

  20. lynne on February 12th, 2009 9:34 pm

    This song means a lot to me. I had it played at my son’s memorial service. I jsut think it speaks to him and I.

    “If This Is Goodbye” by Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris -

  21. Mike on February 16th, 2009 3:18 am

    I recently saw The Guggenheim Grotto at a taping of the radio show Mountain Stage. After the show I bought their latest cd and was overwhelmed by the last track entitled “Heaven Has A Heart.”

    The link to a YouTube performance is given below. Lyrics to all their songs can be found at The Guggenheim Grotto web site.

    “Heaven Has A Heart” by The Guggenheim Grotto -

  22. Alexandre on February 20th, 2009 7:59 pm

    Expressing my grief through music is really helping me unlock my bereavement emotions. What I especially listen are really sad songs from Evanescence, that are laded with grief, anguish, repressed emotions and difficulties of letting go. She has a really beautiful and poignant voice, filled with emotion.

    Saddest song (according to me): “Hello” by Evanescence, speaking about the moment when she learned the death of her sister

  23. Kathy Schnapp on March 12th, 2009 10:10 pm

    This song truely expresses how I feel. I developed a slide presentation for my mom with this song in the background. I hope it touches you as it did me.

    Title: I Sure Miss You
    By Jason Crabb

  24. Guided Meditation Cd on April 3rd, 2009 5:55 pm

    Finally, after reading several posts about guided meditation cd your one clarified some things i was confused about them.

  25. Tim Smith on April 6th, 2009 1:17 am

    Olivia Newton John inspiring song, “Let Go, Let God” for the grieving heart.

  26. Shelley Heiden on April 21st, 2009 11:07 am

    I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me:
    It shares the all the emotions we could go through when entering heaven. It lightens a burdened heart.

  27. Marty Tousley on April 23rd, 2009 5:13 pm

    This charming video warms my heart and gives me hope for all of us:
    What a Wonderful World,

  28. Angela on July 22nd, 2009 8:59 pm

    I heard “Sissys Song” by Alan Jackson for the first time the night my mom passed away. I listen to it often, when I just want to stop whatever I’m doing and think about her.

  29. june on July 29th, 2009 11:36 am

    Sissy’s song is on youtube (for moment)

  30. june on July 30th, 2009 10:30 pm

    These two songs were mentioned in an NPR Fresh Air interview recently - as part of a memorial service for (poet) Kathleen Sheeder Bonnano’s daughter.

    Coldplay - Yellow

    Shaggy - Angel

  31. Lisa Messenger on September 6th, 2009 6:24 am

    I’ll Be There by Escape Club
    My Immortal by Evanescence

  32. june on September 17th, 2009 8:41 pm

    “Still” and you can hear it at

    It’s the first song on the player.

    Songwriter, Gerrit, wrote this song after his daughter had a stillborn son. :-(

  33. june on September 30th, 2009 2:34 pm

    Here are youtube links for Lisa’s song suggestions above… (thanks Lisa!)

    The Escape club I’ll Be There

    My Immortal by Evanescence,

  34. Boo Mayhew on October 23rd, 2009 7:40 pm

    Joe Cocker - The Great Divide

    Nights are long
    And the wind is howling down
    Into the hollows
    Somewhere deep inside
    I can hear you calling out
    Across the great divide

    Right or wrong there’s a feeling in my heart
    I try to follow
    But lately i just hide
    And my dream of someday crawling out
    To cross this great divide

    Heart like a drum
    And the beating is wearing me down
    Standing at the station
    But the train never comes
    Still I’m hanging on
    Like some old ghost town

    Miles to go but I see that one way out
    Stars in the distance
    Skies are open wide
    Waiting for my soul to rise
    Above this great divide

    Is a dangerous blade
    In a reckless and trembling hand
    Sweet salvation
    Just a thin line away
    I should cut and run
    But I’ll make my stand

    Nights are long
    But I’ll close my eyes again
    Until tomorrow
    Slip the bonds and ride
    Touch the face I long to see
    Above this great divide
    We’ll be all We long to be
    Beyond this great divide

  35. Boo Mayhew on October 23rd, 2009 8:34 pm
  36. Boo Mayhew on October 23rd, 2009 9:39 pm
  37. Rochel on November 17th, 2009 1:41 pm

    Another beautiful song by Michael W. Smith - Grace…not only beautiful song, but beautiful words…The entire dvd called “A New Hallelujah”

  38. Lindsey on November 17th, 2009 2:50 pm

    These songs are all great, and are definitely good to help the sad part of grieving. My mom passed away just under three years ago (January 8, so holidays are always a little hard)…and I have a memory of her goofing around with me in the living room, and we were dancing to Cher. So when you’re ready to smile a bit, I suggest “Do you believe in love” by Cher. I was going to try and play it at her memorial, but we decided to go more traditional with Amazing Grace (, and One Day at a Time ( :) Miss you mom! Love you!

  39. Stephanie on November 25th, 2009 10:34 pm

    Held by Natalie Grant ( and Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns

  40. Sue on January 3rd, 2010 3:06 pm

    “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton ( “Children of the Universe” by John Denver ( was played at my son’s services. It was the PERFECT song for him. It was selected by his best friend.

  41. ellen on January 4th, 2010 2:24 am

    at my mom’s memorial we played, on her request, “Goodbye” by Lionel Richie ( And “Esther” by Kenny G (; and “Stuck on You” by Lionel Richie ( Now if I’m somewhere in a store or listening to the radio, everytime I hear Lionel Richie or Kenny G I think of her. Miss her so much. Thank you for the great songs on this site, I wish I would have seen these sooner, music is a great comfort.

  42. Niamh on April 13th, 2010 8:39 am

    For Daddy’s girls out there, this lyrics of this song struck me one day although I knew it well and heard it so many times, I never truly listened to the words….until that Dad, driving, crying and missing my Dad.
    Now I like to think when it comes on randomly it’s my loving Dad sening me a message somehow.

    hope you like it

  43. Niamh on June 24th, 2010 8:44 am

    Another song that jumped at me when I played my dearest Dad’s iPOD for the first time since losing him.

    It’s written and song by a well known and loved Irish singer/songwriter called Phil Coulter.

    It’s called “The Old Man” dedicated by Phil to his Dad.

    Hope you like it.

  44. Doug on July 12th, 2010 6:08 am

    I cry so much when I hear this song! I miss my Mom and Dad so much and wish I could have done so many things differently!

    “These Days” by Gregg Allman (written by Jackson Browne).

  45. Marty Tousley on September 21st, 2010 1:22 pm

    From one of our Grief Healing Discussion Group members: “This is a song . . . that I found and it says everything I am feeling about losing my Daddy . . . [It] express things that I can’t express and it always makes me cry, but I love it so much.”

    Address In The Stars, by Caitlin and Will

  46. Marty Tousley on September 22nd, 2010 12:39 pm

    A beautiful song for bereaved animal lovers, from the movie “All Dogs Go to Heaven 2″ ~

    I’ll Always Be With You,

  47. Nadia on December 29th, 2010 10:23 pm
  48. Marty Tousley on January 2nd, 2011 3:58 pm

    From another of our Grief Healing Discussion Groups members:

    “We played this at Bill’s funeral…it says so much.”

    “In This Life,” sung by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole,

    Lyrics by Collin Raye,

  49. Marty Tousley on January 20th, 2011 10:15 am

    “Until We’re Together Again,” vocal by Tiffany Coburn,

    Katherine Cochran wrote this beautiful song over a four-month period, as the lyrics and melody came to her in a series of dreams. She created her Share the Song Web site,, “so you can listen . . . [and] to reassure you that your loved one is happy and safe on the other side, and for you to know that you will be together again.”

    (Recommended by another Grief Healing Discussion Groups member: “The song is beautiful, I think you’ll all like it if you haven’t heard it yet.”)

  50. Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC on February 28th, 2012 3:31 pm

    In his informative article, “What Is Our Phoenix Song: Using Music to Heal Our Grief,” Hospice Manager Vince Corso writes: “No matter your preference for style or composer, music can lend itself to healing the pain of grief. I encourage you to connect with music that can offer you solace and bring you to a place of healing and remembrance.” His post includes many creative ways you can use music in your own grief journey. Find the article here:

  51. Judy Philbin on April 3rd, 2012 10:19 am

    Listen to this beautiful collection of songs for healing the grieving heart at

  52. Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC on September 4th, 2012 9:32 am

    From Seven Ponds blog, a classic song about the loss of a friend: James Taylor’s beautiful “Fire and Rain,”

  53. Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC on September 4th, 2012 4:26 pm

    Bonnie Rait with Norah Jones, “I Don’t Want Anything to Change,”

  54. Anne Gorman on September 26th, 2012 12:39 am

    We all possess simple gifts and I think this song is quite fitting to share with one another.

  55. Maylissa on December 10th, 2012 3:13 pm

    For grieving animal parents, this enchanting lullaby will remind you of all the most poignant memories and tenderest of feelings you’ll always hold for your own, precious furbaby. The lyrics are of course equally applicable for beloved human children, too, but the beautiful images in this video are geared towards “animal people.” The “right to hold you” line never fails to choke me right up…because it’s so eloquently TRUE!

    Baby of Mine, by Alison Krauss

  56. Tiger on February 3rd, 2013 8:39 pm

    “I can only imagine ” by Mercy Me
    “Homesick” by Mercy Me

  57. Marty Tousley on October 18th, 2013 1:02 pm

    “Heart Headed Home” by Scott Parker ~ a lovely song for (Christian) grievers , here:

  58. Friend of a Friend on April 26th, 2014 8:58 pm

    This song was what I replayed many times after my Dad passed away. I hope it helps others in their time of grief and past remembering of their loved ones. By Dani and Lizzy

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