People sometimes suggest steering away from the “sad stuff” when you’re wrestling with grief and pain, but we’re actually here to tell you the opposite: sometimes we need musical empathy to release some of the emotional tension that builds up inside us. Curl up with some tea and some headphones and have yourself a good cry as you listen to these songs that were written to help you heal.
Heaven’s Not Too Far—We Three
This phenomenal sibling band wrote this original song about the death of their mother. The lyrics are written from her point of view in the last moments of her life. She addresses her words to the family, explaining that her plan was not to leave them, that they can talk to her anytime, and that she wishes she had more time with them. The siblings say they wrote the song with their grieving father in mind, hoping that these words from beyond the grave would bring him some comfort and closure.
How Could I Ever Know—The Secret Garden
To pepper in some classical Broadway, we bring you this heart-wrenching ballad from the musical written by Lucy Ballard and Marsha Norman and based on the classic novel by Francis Hodges Burnett. Ten years after his beautiful wife, Lily, dies in childbirth, Archibald Craven is visited by his wife’s spirit. She sings this soprano lament to him descrying the fate that separated them and begging his forgiveness while still encouraging him to find a new way to love her memory and move on without the anger and hatred that has twisted him up all these years.
The Ocean Breathes Salty—Modest Mouse
Classic rock may not seem like the most healing genre, but the lyrics of this song are both poignant and authentic. The singer describes his desire to leave the “jail” he’s been living in, and hopes for a time when he and his loved one will meet again. He expresses his anger as well as his sadness—something many of us have to come to terms with ourselves.
Tears in Heaven—Eric Clapton
This famous 90’s hit will probably be familiar. Clapton actually wrote it soon after the death of his four-year-old son, who tragically fell to his death in 1991. The song asks the powerful questions: will we be remembered by our loved ones who have passed on? Are there families in the afterlife? The raw pain and sorrow of this grieving father is obvious in his eloquent lyrics, “I must be strong and carry on, ‘cause I know I don’t belong here in Heaven…I’ll find my way through night and day, ‘cause I know I just can’t stay here in Heaven.”
Let it Be—The Beatles
There’s something for everyone on this list—including The Beatles. The lyrics of this song are wise and memorable. The young songwriters are no strangers to heartache and grief, and their advice to all of us is to accept that life is unfair and just “let it be.”