Grief Songs

Grief Songs: Music for a Grieving Heart

© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC

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

65 Replies to “Grief Songs”

  1. Catherine Auman

    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.

  2. Katie

    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.



    Freebird, by Lynyrd Skynard –

  4. sandy

    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 –

  5. Lucille Vincent

    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

  6. Mike

    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 –

  7. Alexandre

    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

  8. Angela

    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.

  9. Boo Mayhew

    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

  10. Lindsey

    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!

  11. ellen

    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.

  12. Niamh

    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

  13. Niamh

    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.

  14. Marty Tousley

    “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.”)

  15. Marty Tousley, CNS-BC, FT, DCC

    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:

  16. Maylissa

    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

  17. Sharen Wendy Robertson

    I lost my 20 year old son in a car accident in 2008. I became a songwriter that year as I struggled blindly to make meaning in my life again. I wrote and produced a CD of songs dedicated to my son, but the music is for anyone suffering the painful loss of a loved one. My music is on my website and on Youtube. This is a Youtube link to my first song I wrote after he died.
    It’s called, I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE GONE

  18. Jane

    My son died of a drug overdose nine months ago. Everyday is a struggle. These songs help a bit:
    “Tony,” “The Long Ride Home,” and “Goodbye” by Patty Griffin
    “We Disappear,” “To Be Without You,” “My Love For You Is Real” and “Shiver and Shake” by Ryan Adams
    “True Sadness” by the Avett Brothers
    “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Dylan
    “Stars” by Grace Potter
    “Still Be Around” by Uncle Tupelo
    “Glory Bound” by the Wailin’ Jennys


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