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33 Meaningful Songs About Death, Loss, and Grief

Rachel Sharpe

Songs about death can help you cope with the challenges of losing a friend, spouse, or loved one. In life, nothing is permanent. And that reality can scare us and unsettle us at times. But even in loss, we can find love, inspiration, and hope. After all, everyone on this planet has experienced loss at some point in their life. So use these sad songs to help you cope with your painful loss, let your tears all out, and build yourself back up. In this article, we’ll share some of the most touching songs about death to help you on your grief journey.

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33 Songs About Death, Loss, and Grief

1. Marjorie – Taylor Swift

In this touching song about death, Taylor Swift sings about her grandmother Marjorie who’s words are still replayed in her mind. She feels her grandmother is still with her through the legacy of the little lessons she told Ms. Swift growing up. She sings, “you’re alive, you’re alive, in my head,” which reminds you that even though you lose someone physically doesn’t mean that you need to let them go from your memories. You can reflect on all the things your loved one loved doing, write down all the expressions you’ve heard them say and keep them alive through your stories, thoughts, and memories. 

2. Funeral – Band of Horses

Songs about death like Funeral have been used in countless television shows and movies, sometimes even as foreshadowing. For example, in How I Met Your Mother, this song plays when showing Ted at the train station about to meet his wife, who spoiler alert: dies in the finale and basically ruined fans love of the show because of its bait and switch. However, the lyrics, “At every occasion, I’ll be ready for the funeral” is about keeping your mind open that this person is going to die. It’s a good practice in mindfulness, so you cherish every moment you have with this person which is what makes this such a haunting and beautiful song.

3. If I Die Young – The Band Perry

Most people assume that they’ll die before their children. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. For parents who’ve lost a child or young children who’ve lost a friend, they can listen to this death song by The Band Perry about dying young. The lyrics “the sharp knife of a short life, oh well, I’ve had just enough time” remind you that even though someone dies young doesn’t mean that they haven’t had an impact on the world while they were here. This song about death is a tear-jerker but one that can also help you find inner peace

4. Dancing With Your Ghost – Sasha Alex Sloan

Dancing With Your Ghost is about losing someone when they die young and suddenly but you don’t get a chance to say goodbye. You don’t always get a warning that someone is sick and on their death bed. Moving on after losing someone suddenly is so hard. You might begin to wonder, “How do I love again?” The answer is that it takes time. It takes time to process loss and to grieve. And opening your heart means accepting people as they are, which you already know how to do. So, in the meantime, “Every night [you’ll be] dancing with [their] ghost.”

5. Slipped Away – Avril Lavigne

The Avril Lavigne death song is about her grandfather, who passed away. The song is about how sometimes you don’t get a chance to say goodbye to someone you love. It’s about not getting the closure you need but how you still miss the person so much. This death song is about how complicated it can be to lose someone and not be able to bring them back to you. The end is permanent, making it harder to let go. The lyrics, “I’ve had my wake up, won’t you wake up? I keep asking why,” are all about how sharp the realization of death is, but you still want to live in denial of it happening. This song by Avril Lavigne expresses the true agony that grief causes.

6. Ghost – Justin Bieber

This song reminds you that life is short and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for anybody. In the song’s lyrics, Bieber sings, “If I can’t be close to you, I’ll settle for the ghost of you, I miss you more than life.” Sometimes, you can’t have the person you love most there by your side. This is one of the best songs about death because it paints the picture of how limited time is and how we lose it every second. It’s about cherishing the moments we have together as we have them. This is an encouraging song reminding you to take every moment you have and feel it, embrace it, and cherish it.

7. I Would Die For You – Jann Arden

This song about death talks about Jann Arden’s willingness to die for the person she loves the most. If you’re currently losing someone you love to illness and wish you could trade places with them, this death song may help you cope with grief. The lyrics, “Don’t you know I could not survive without you in my life,” painstakingly highlight how hard it is to lose someone like a life partner or spouse. Most people can’t and refuse to even picture a life where their partner isn’t around. There’s a desperation to die for them because then you won’t have to be the one to suffer the aftermath of the loss. It’s a good reflection on your own death too.

8. Fix You – Coldplay

This death song by Coldplay has powerful lyrics that’ll get the tears streaming down your face. The lyrics “And the tears come streaming down your face, when you lose something you can’t replace” highlight how hard it is to lose someone. When you’re grieving a loss, you can’t help but cry a waterfall of tears (Coldplay has a song for that too). The song’s highlight is the guitar solo towards the end of the song, where you’ll likely cry hysterically when dealing with death, loss, or grief. However, the lyrics end on a positive note reminding you that someone will be there to fix you by helping you see the “lights that guide you home.”

9. It’s Quiet Uptown – Hamilton Musical

In the musical Hamilton, Phillip, the son of Alexander Hamilton and his wife dies. This song is about the aftermath of losing him. If you’re a parent who’s lost a child, this song might be hard to listen to. “You hold your child as tight as you can, and push away the unimaginable” is all about doing whatever it takes to protect your child from danger. But sometimes, you’re forced to “live with the unimaginable.” To help them cope with the death of their son, they think of moving somewhere uptown to start life anew.

10. Move Along – The All American Rejects

Move Along, a song about death, was written to share an anti-suicide message. The powerful death lyrics include “hands are shaking cold, these hands are meant to hold, speak to me,” which describes how cold a body becomes when a person dies. It shows how lifeless the body becomes after death. However, the song also shares a message of hope, “When all you’ve got to keep is strong, move along, move along, like I know you do.” It’s about moving forward after loss. The song will keep your spirit alive and well as you cope with death. 

11. Not About Angels – Birdy

This song about death was used in the movie The Fault in Our Stars, which is a film about cancer. If you’ve recently lost someone to cancer or are in the midst of watching someone you love battle it, this song can be hard to listen to. However, you can pay tribute to that person with this song about how angels come, go, and make us feel special. So, if you find yourself thinking, the good die young, remember that sometimes they were really meant to be your guardian angel.

12. Death Bed – Powfu and beabadoobee

Songs about death aren’t always as literal as the song Death Bed, which is about a young man on his deathbed, reflecting on the things he’ll miss out on in life while still feeling grateful for what he’s had. It’s about reminiscing on all the happy moments you’ve had with your loved ones at the end of your life and being fortunate enough to have some special memories. The lyrics, “I hope I go to heaven, so I see you once again,” are a touching sentiment that there is still hope for an afterlife with our loved ones, even once we’ve left the physical world. 

13. Supermarket Flowers – Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran’s Supermarket Flower is a song about losing your mom. The lyrics “when I fell down, you’d be there holding me up, spread your wings as you go” are about how supportive your mom has been for you, but even with tears in your eyes each time you blink, you’ve got to let her go for her next chapter. It can be hard to think about anything else when a parent dies, and that grief is described beautifully in this song about death by Sheeran. 

14. Places We Won’t Walk – Bruno Major

This song about death is about all the beautiful things in life that someone will miss out on once they die. All you have left is a loving memory of the person. But in the meantime, you’ll go on living life and experience all the places you won’t walk around with your significant other. The song is also about aging and how even kids will one day have grey hair. It’s about the passing of time and all of life’s wonderful experiences along the way.

15. Candle In The Wind – Elton John

According to one of the songwriters, this iconic song about death is all about how so many people die young when they’re famous. While originally written about Marilyn Monroe, the songwriter said it could’ve also been about Sylvia Plath or Kurt Cobain. The lyrics were rewritten when Princess Diana died as well. The lyrics “these empty days without your smile” highlight the struggle of losing someone because we’ll never forget the best of them, like their smile or laugh, making it something we’ll never have again. 

16. Just A Dream – Carrie Underwood

The death song Just A Dream by Carrie Underwood is about losing your military boyfriend or girlfriend. The lyrics, “baby, why’d you leave me, why’d you have to go, I was counting on forever, now I’ll never know, I can’t even breathe,” describe the desperation and emotions you experience when someone dies unexpectedly. The denial stage of grief is highlighted throughout the song as the person desperately wants to believe that the death of her boyfriend is just a dream and not the reality that she has to face now. 

17. I’ll Be Missing You – Sean Combs, Faith Evans

This song about death is all about how you’ll miss someone after they’ve died. The lyrics, “Seems like yesterday we used to rock the show,” talk about how not too long ago, you and the deceased used to live life together and make the most of the moment. The chorus reminds you that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing; you’ll always miss the person who has died. This death song is about losing someone extraordinary in your life. 

18. Dancing in the Sky – Dani and Lizzy

This beautiful song is about losing someone who was in a lot of pain. This could be emotional pain or physical pain. The song details a series of questions about what heaven is like, if their pain is gone, if there’s music, or if they’re more alive. But despite the singers knowing that the person is now in a better place, life on earth without them feels a bit emptier.

19. Wake Me Up When September Ends – Green Day

Green Day’s Wake Me Up When September Ends is about how Billie Joe Armstrong lost his dad to cancer when he was only ten years old in September 1982. The lyrics are about how you want to sleep through the anniversary of the death of a parent or loved one because it’s so hard to deal with. The lyrics, “here comes the rain again, falling from the stars,” are about the volume of tears that pour from your eyes. The symbolism of falling from the stars is how his late father is now in heaven or out in the universe after he died. 

20. A Sky Full of Stars – Coldplay

This beautiful song is about how someone lights up the night by being a star in the sky. The lyrics, “Cause in a sky full of stars, I think I saw you” mean that you’re looking up in the grand old sky at night and seeing your loved one up there in heaven. The lyrics, “I want to die in your arms” could be for someone who is terminally ill and wanting to die with someone they love.

21. Welcome To The Black Parade – My Chemical Romance

The rock opera Welcome To The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance is about a cancer patient’s experience dying and their experience in the afterlife. The lyrics, “your memory will carry on,” are about how people will always remember you after you die, so you never truly die. The lyrics provide a ton of heart with powerful words like “do or die, you’ll never make me because the world will never take my heart” is about having the courage to fight when battling cancer or any terminal illness. While you might accept that you’ll die, your heart still loves. 

22. One Sweet Day – Mariah Carey and Boys II Men

This song about death is about Mariah Carey’s friend David Cole of C&C Music Factory, who died of spinal meningitis. The lyrics reflect how sometimes people die suddenly, and you don’t have a chance to tell them everything you wanted to. The song is hopeful by highlighting that the person is now in heaven with other friends who’ve died before them. The lyrics “Assumed you’d always be there, I, I, took your presence for granted” touches on how we often fail to take advantage of spending time with people while they’re alive and don’t realize that we can lose someone at any time. 

23. Gone Too Soon – Daughtry

Gone Too Soon is a song about death that talks about the birthdays missed when someone dies. And how instead of laughing and celebrating together, they’re just crying. The person who died was likely a young child, newborn, or fetus, as the song details how you never knew what they could’ve grown up to be. Losing someone you barely knew because they were so young is so hard for parents but that child will be remembered forever by their parents regardless.

24. Who Knew – Pink

This death song is about losing a friend to an overdose. Pink found one of her friends dead of a drug overdose when she was only 14 years old. This song reflects on her drug past and how this person showed her how to use drugs but ultimately died from it. Pink sings about how they all thought they were cool but ended up being fools. The lyrics, “I’ll keep you locked in my head until we meet again,” are about remembering his life but also remembering that it was drugs that took his life so she doesn’t make the same mistakes with the hope that one day they’ll reconnect in the afterlife. 

25. Ashes – Celine Dion

Songs about death, like Ashes by Celine Dion, are about how you can pray for someone to be okay and still lose them. And all the begging you do with the universe just doesn’t work out when someone you love dies. Celine Dion then asks, “Can beauty come out of ashes” as her whole world and all her dreams have gone up in flames. She even asks if her tears can be used to put out the fire because she’s in emotional pain dealing with the tragic loss of her husband.

26. Take On Me (Acoustic) – a-ha

While you’ve probably danced around to this 80s hit at some point in your life, the acoustic version of this song takes on a whole new meaning and is quite haunting. The 2017 acoustic version of Take On Me includes deep lyrics like “you’re shying away, I’ll be coming for you anyway,” which could be symbolized as death coming from you when you’re dying. The lyrics “I’ll be gone in a day or two” can be challenging to hear in someone’s final few days before they die of a terminal illness like cancer. 

27. Heaven Was Needing a Hero – Jo Dee Messina

This song is about visiting someone at a cemetary and reflecting on how they would’ve held them tighter if they knew the person was dying so soon. The song is about how heaven needed a hero just like them and that’s why they were taken so soon from this world. The last memory this person had with this person was so positive, so it’s obvious that the person who died, died suddenly.

28. See You Again – Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth

This song about death is about the famous actor Paul Walker who died tragically in a car accident shortly after filming Furious 7, a racing movie. The lyrics, “it’s been a long day without you, my friend, and I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again,” talk about how hard the day someone dies is and how long that day feels. The song highlights how much you go through with people in life and how much progress you make and how you can only talk about it when you’re in the afterlife with them. 

29. Knocking on Heaven’s Door – Bob Dylan

This death song is part of the soundtrack for the movie Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid which Bob Dylan made a cameo appearance in. The lyrics are specific to a death scene in the film. The lyrics, “feels like I’m knocking on heaven’s door,” are about how someone feels like they’re about to die. This song about death was also played by Guns N’ Roses in a tribute to Freddie Mercury when he had died of AIDs. 

30. You Are Not Alone – Michael Jackson

This death song is about not being able to say goodbye to someone who leaves this world too soon. But upon reflection, you realize you are not alone, that you’ll always be by their side, even if apart, that person will always be held closely in your heart. After someone dies, you sometimes hallucinate visions or sounds of them. This song talks about hearing the persons cries even though they’re not around anymore.

31. Let It Be – The Beatles

This song about death is all about acceptance. The words let it be are repeated throughout the song to remind you to stop fighting against loss, difficult moments, and obstacles and to accept things as they are. The answer to all of our problems and pain is to let it be. This death song centers around mindfulness and allows things to occur as they happen. And even when something positive happens, you should also let it be. 

32. Brendan’s Death Song – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Songs about death like Brendan’s Death Song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is about knowing that you’re going to die soon. The song is about Brendan Mullen who founded The Masque, an LA punk rock club. He died on the first day of rehearsals for RHCP’s latest album at the time. They wanted the song to be a celebration of his life rather than a “bummer.”

33. Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton

Songs about death like Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton is about losing someone you love who went to heaven and needing to move on in life because heaven isn’t where you belong.

Conclusion

The songs about death highlighted stories about losing friends, family, partners, and children. While we can’t bring a deceased loved one back to life, we can spread their legacy. These death songs can help you let your emotions out through waterfall-worthy crying and eventually acceptance. If you’re looking for some coping tools for your grief, you can check out this guided meditation for grief

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