Songs about Death & Grief

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It’s been a while since we last shared our list of favourite Oscar-winning movies, Netflix documentaries, TV series and games about death and grief. Today we’re back again with a list of some really beautiful songs that explore similar themes.

Let’s not underestimate the healing power of music, it can help us explore emotions deep within ourselves that we never knew existed before and embrace those emotions to the fullest extent. Not to mention, it also helps us connect, empathise and feel with others who are going on a similar journey of healing and grief.

Helvegen (2013)

Artist: Wardruna
Album: Runaljod – Ragnarok

Einar Selvik, the lead singer of Wardruna once said that this song is about death, dying, honouring those who have been there before, crossing over and letting go. He recounted how in ancient times, the Nords would sit by the bedside of the dying, singing for days to help their loved ones cross over to the other side (hear him describe it in his own words here).

Kettering (2009)

Artist: The Antlers
Album: Hospice

The album tells the story of a hospice worker’s relationship with a female patient suffering from terminal bone cancer, their ensuing romance and slow downward spiral as a result of the woman’s traumas, fears and disease. Not much else is known about the inspiration behind the song or the album as frontman Peter Silberman has mostly kept mum about the album and its’ origins.

If I Die Young (2010)

Artist: The Band Perry
Album: The Band Perry

Shortly after releasing the song, the band received an envelope with a letter and a necklace with a ring attached to it. It was sent by a young girl who was grieving the loss of her best friend and was contemplating suicide until she heard the song on the radio which prompted her to change her mind. She credited the song; which tells the sadness of dying young, for saving her life.

Hurt (2006)

Artist: Christina Aguilera
Album: Back to Basics

The song tells the story of how the protagonist deals with the loss of a loved one and is inspired by the death of Linda Perry’s (who co-wrote the song with Aguilera) father; after Aguilera suggested that she wanted to record a song about the pain of losing a loved one. The music video depicts Aguilera as a circus star in the 1940s who struggles to deal with her father’s death.

Angel (1998)

Artist: Sarah McLachlan
Album: Surfacing

McLachlan was inspired to write this song after reading a Rolling Stones article about how musicians were turning to heroin as a coping mechanism to deal with the pressures of being in the music industry and subsequently overdosing. The lyrics were written specifically with Jonathan Melvoin’s (The Smashing Pumpkins’ keyboardist) death in mind.

See You Again (2015)

Artist: Wiz Khalifa Ft. Charlie Puth
Album: Furious 7 OST

While writing the track, Puth recounted the death of his friend from his Berklee College of Music days, who unfortunately passed away after a motorcycle accident back in 2012. The song was most notably played at the end of the movie Furious 7 as the late Paul Walker’s character Brian O’Conner parted ways with Vin Diesel’s character, Dom Toretto.

Who Knew (2006)

Artist: P!nk
Album: I’m Not Dead

According to The NY Daily, P!nk wrote the song in memory of a friend that she had lost to drug abuse. The music video depicts a young couple going on rides at the fairground but unbeknownst to the girl, the boy injected himself with drugs. Not long after, the girl discovers him unconscious, seemingly succumbing to an overdose.

Let It Be (1970)

Artist: The Beatles
Album: The Beatles

Paul McCartney wrote this song in remembrance of his late mother, Mary Patricia McCartney who died of cancer in 1956 when he was only 14 years old. He had the idea after having a dream about his mother in 1968, where his mother had told him “It will be alright, let it be”. The Rolling Stones listed Let It Be as the top 8th of the greatest The Beatles song of all time.

Flowers of the Forest (1615-1625)

Artist: Unknown
Album: None

Flowers of the Forest is a Scottish folk tune originally written to commemorate the defeat of James IV and his Scottish army at the Battle of Flodden in September 1513. These days, it’s mostly performed during funerals or memorial services. It was most recently performed at Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral service at Windsor Castle.

Check out our Spotify playlist.

For more songs about death and grief and please share some of your favourite songs that have helped you heal along the way, in the comments section below.

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