40 Meaningful Songs About Death, Loss and Grief To Help You Cope

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Feel all the feelings with these songs about death, loss and grief.

Music is healing. It's not woo-woo pseudoscience. It's actual science. Research from 2017 showed that 94 percent of participants purposely used music while grieving, while a pilot study published in 2013 indicated that music could help with grief. And we have 40 meaningful songs about death, loss and grief to help you cope with no matter what you're going through.

There's even something known as music therapy, which is done with a credentialed professional, according to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). The AMTA has resources to help people find a music therapist—and there's no shame in doing that. But anyone who has turned up the volume while trying to navigate the tricky, varied and, at times, unpredictable emotions brought on by a loss knows that informal listening sessions can be a beneficial form of self-care.

But what to listen to? Grief is a winding journey, and no two people experience it the same way. You may be angry, confused, in denial or just incredibly sad. All these feelings are valid, and there are tunes to help you understand that. Here's a playlist of music filled with songs about death, loss and grief that will help you feel less alone.

Related: When 'Sorry for Your Loss' Doesn't Cut It, Try These 50 Condolence Messages That Come Straight From the Heart

40 Best Songs About Death, Loss and Grief

1. "Tears In Heaven" - Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton co-wrote this song to cope with the tragic death of his 4-year-old son, Conor, who fell from a 53rd-floor window of a New York City apartment building. It appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Rush (1991) and won Grammys for Record and Song of the Year.

2. "If I Die Young" - The Band Perry

The 2010 smash from The Band Perry's self-titled album won a pair of CMT Music Awards for Song and Single of the Year in 2011.

3. "Who You’d Be Today" - Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney built "No Shoes Nation," and his laidback tunes are perfect for listening to with toes in the sand. But the country singer/songwriter proved he could strike a different chord with this song about someone who died too soon.

4. "Drink A Beer" - Luke Bryan

Country singers seem to have each way with words when it comes to grief, and Luke Bryan's 2013 single "Drink a Beer." The emotionally raw ballad will speak to anyone coping with a recent, unexpected loss.

5. "Who Knew"- Pink

According to Pink, the track off her 2006 studio album I'm Not Dead is about some friends she lost to drug abuse. The pop song was used during the promotion for the ABC series October Road, which aired for two seasons beginning in 2007.

Related: 40 Bible Verses About Death That Give Comfort And Hope For What Is To Come

6. "Wake Me Up When September Ends" - Greenday

"Wake Me Up When September Ends" was penned by lead singer Billie Joe for his late father, who passed away from esophageal cancer when Armstrong was only 10 years old. It was the fourth single off Greenday's seventh studio album American Idiot (2005). Over the years, people have used it to grieve losses they experienced during Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

7.  "See You Again" - Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth

The song is written in honor of the late actor Paul Walker, who passed away in a car crash in November 2013. It appeared on the Furious 7 soundtrack and as a bonus track on Charlie Puth's debut album Nine Track Mind. It spent 12 (non-consectuive_ weeks at No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, placing it in a tie with "Lose Yourself" by Eminem for the second-most weeks spent at No. 1 by a rap single. (Lil Nas X's "Old town Road" holds the record.)

8. "Ashes" - Celine Dion

The song appears on the Deadpool 2 (2018) movie soundtrack and embodies the film's plot, which centers around a superhero in the midst of an "existential crisis." But the lyrics like "And when I pray to God all I ask is/Can beauty come out of ashes?" can resonate with someone trying to find a silver lining during grief.

9. "Supermarket Flowers" - Ed Sheeran

The final track on Ed Sheeran's ÷ (2017) was written in memory of his late grandmother. If it makes you cry, that was the point.

10. "Heaven Was Needing A Hero" - Jo Dee Messina

This country ballad is a popular song for a modern-day military funeral but can apply to grieving the loss of someone you looked up to. "I guess heaven was needing a hero/Somebody just like you/Brave enough to stand up/For what you believe/And follow it through/When I try to make it make sense in my mind/The only conclusion I come to/Is heaven was needing a hero/Like you" are among the poignant lines in the song.

Related: Therapist-Approved Tips For Coping With Grief During Holidays

11. "Bigger Than The Whole Sky" - Taylor Swift

Fans believe this song from the Era's singer's 2022 album Midnights is about a miscarriage.

12. "Slipped Away" - Avril Lavigne

The final track on Under My Skin (2004) is about the day the pop-punk singer found out her grandfather had passed away.

13. "Marjorie" - Taylor Swift

The 13th track (IYKYK) off Evermore (2020) was written for her late grandmother, Marjorie. In it, Swift recalls some of her grandma's best advice and grapples with not knowing her better.

14. "Ghost" - Justin Bieber

"Ghost" (2021) by Justin Bieber has a few different meanings. Jon Bellion, who helped co-write the song, tweeted that he wrote it for his late grandmother. Bieber also noted during a Zoom interview that, while the tune is upbeat, it struck a chord during quarantine of the COVID-19 pandemic when the lack of connection caused us to "only really have these memories."

15. "Fix You" - Coldplay

Chris Martin wrote this 2005 song about his desire to help former flame Gwenyth Paltrow cope with the loss of her father. The one-time couple met shortly after Paltrow's father, Bruce, passed away in 2002.

16. "Brendan’s Death Song" - Red Hot Chili Peppers

The fifth and final single off I'm With You (2011) is about Brendan Mullen, owner of the LA-based pop-punk club The Masque. Mullen died of a stroke in 2009.

17. "Gone Too Soon"- Daughtry

Lyrics like "Would you have been president/Or a painter, an author, or sing like your mother?/One thing is evident/Would've given all I had/Would've loved you like no other" have become incredibly meaningful for people dealing with pregnancy and infant loss.

18. "It's Quiet Uptown" - Hamilton

This song is performed during the second act of the Broadway smash when Alexander and Eliza grieve their child's death.

19. "I'll Cover You (Reprise)" - Rent

This song has a more somber feel than the version performed earlier in the Broadway play and is performed during the funeral of the beloved, appropriately-named character, Angel.

20. "Places We Won’t Walk" - Bruno Major

The meaning of this track off Bruno Major's A Song For Every Moon (2017) is ambiguous. But the lyrics could feel poignant for someone who recently experienced a loss of a relationship or the death of a loved one and is grieving what will never be again. "Sunlight dances off the leaves/Birds of red color the trees/Flowers filled with buzzin' bees/In places we won't walk."

Related: 7 Science-Backed Ways To Handle Depression

21. "Goodbye England's Rose (Candle In The Wind)" - Elton John

Originally written about Marilyn Monroe, Elton John repurposed the song for a legendary performance at his friend Princess Diana's funeral in 1997. It won John a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1998.

22. "Just a Dream" - Carrie Underwood

This song follows a young woman who lost the love of her life while he was serving as a soldier in a war.

23. "Whiskey Lullaby" - Brad Paisley ft. Allison Kraus

This highly-emotional song is about a woman who breaks a man's heart. He dies. Overcome by death, she eventually struggles with alcohol misuse and dies too.

24. "I'll Be Missing You" - Sean Combs ft. Faith Evans and 112

This song samples the often-misinterpreted Police breakup single "Every Breath You Take." Unlike the Police song, "I'll Be Missing You" really is about death — that of Christopher Wallace, "The Notorious B.I.G.,' who was murdered in 1997. The song earned a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

25. "Welcome To The Black Parade" - My Chemical Romance

This song was the first single off the rock opera album The Black Parade, which takes listeners on the journey of a patient who knows he's dying of cancer.

26. "One Sweet Day" - Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men

The track from Mariah Carey's Daydream (1995) talks about patiently waiting to be reunited with a loved one who died.

27. "When I Get Where I’m Going" - Brad Paisley ft. Dolly Parton

This 2005 song from Brad Paisley's Time Well Wasted (2005) follows someone who looks forward to life after death and encourages listeners not to "cry for me down here."

28. "My Immortal" - Evanescence

This piano ballad is about struggling to cope with and accept a loss.

29. "Everytime" - Britney Spears

This song is more about coping with the end of a relationship (in Spears' case, probably Justin Timberlake). But lyrics like "Every time I see you in my dreams/I see your face/It's haunting me/I guess I need you, baby" can resonate with people grappling with a death.

30. "American Pie" - Don McLean

The 8:37 Manifesto was released in 1971 and is about the 1959 plane crash that took the lives of early rock and rollers Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.

31. "Angel" - Sarah McLachlan

This track is probably most famous for its role in ASPCA commercials. But it was actually written for musicians like Smashing Pumpkins keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin overdosing on drugs. Melvoin died of a heroin overdose in 1996.

32. "Visiting Hours" - Ed Sheeran

A track on = (2021), Visiting Hours, is a tribute to Australian music promoter Michael Gudinski. Sheeran performed the song at Gudinski's funeral after he died in his sleep in 2021.

33. "Wind Beneath My Wings" - Bette Midler

Technically written as a love song, "Wind Beneath My Wings" has become popular for contemporary funerals. It can double as a way to honor the memory of someone who left an indelible mark on your life.

34. "I'll Never Love Again"- Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga performed this stunning, grief-stricken song in A Star Is Born after her character, Ally, realized that her husband, Jackson (Bradley Cooper), had died.

35. "Ronan" - Taylor Swift

Swift wrote and performed this song based on the blog of Maya Thompson, whose three-year-old son, Ronan, died from neuroblastoma in 2011. Swift released it as a charity single in 2012, with proceeds going to causes that raise cancer awareness.

36. "Last Kiss" - Pearl Jam

This tragic song follows a narrator who loses his girlfriend in a car accident but not before finding her for one last kiss.

37. "When It Rains" - Panamore

This song goes into the mind of someone who died by suicide and may help those left behind gain understanding during a confusing period.

38. "Hurt" Christina Aguilera

Life, death and grief are all messy. We don't always have straightforward and beautiful relationships with people in our lives who die. Christina Aguilera encapsulates these complicated feelings in her 2006 release from Back to Basics, "Hurt." In the song, inspired by the death of songwriter Linda Perry's father, the protagonist tries to make peace with the passing of someone who had hurt her.

39. "Father" - Demi Lovato

Similar to "Hurt," "Father" conveys Demi Lovato's feelings about losing her father to cancer in 2013. Lovato has said she had a "complicated" relationship with her father.

40. "For Good" - Wicked

This song, performed in the second act, of the legendary Broadway show is performed as Elphaba and Glinda say goodbye. But the song can also be a way to cope with the grief around a friend or loved one nearing the end of a terminal illness. So, let me say before we part/So much of me/Is made of what I learned from you/You'll be with me/Like a handprint on my heart."

Next, 100 Quotes On Grief to Uplift, Inspire, and Help You Feel Less Alone