Grief and loss is a part of life. At one time or another, we’ve all lost friends or family. It could be natural causes, diseases like cancer or covid, sudden events like car accidents, and so on. Whatever the loss, music can give you a safe space to grieve and heal.
Music is therapy. It can draw out our deepest, most raw emotions. It can help you process your feelings: anger, sadness, confusion. Music also helps us remember. It can help you connect with that lost loved one—even if they’re no longer with you.
Artists express their grief, loss, healing, and other emotions into their music. It’s their therapy. Essentially, the songwriter is inviting you into their pain, into their anguish, into their cries.
For me, music triggers memories and connections to lost loved ones—happy and sad. Whenever I hear Natalie Grant’s “In Better Hands” or Alter Bridge’s “Watch Over You,” I think of my grandfather. Whenever I hear for KING & Country’s “Amazing Grace” or Linkin Park’s “One More Light,” I think of my grandmothers.
You more than likely have songs, too. And, if you don’t, here are some songs—taken from the hearts and tears of other artists—to listen to in your time of grief.
Ryan Stevenson (feat. Vince Gill & Amy Grant) “When We Fall Apart”
As I previously mentioned, artists pour their grief into their art—music, painting, and so on. Contemporary sensation Ryan Stevenson lost his mother to bone cancer more than 10 years ago. She’s the inspiration behind his recent single, “When We Fall Apart.”
To ChristianMusic.Org, Ryan says we all experience loss at some time or another. He says, “This song has been my way of working through and navigating one of the most painful storms of my life. I hope it encourages you to do the same.”
He also shared wise words about the song to CCM Magazine: “Don’t ever think that you need to fight back your tears because sometimes the only way we see clearly is when we look through our tears.”
“It's okay to cry/It's okay to fall apart/You don't have to try/To be strong when you are not/And it may take sometime to make sense of all your thoughts/But don't ever fight your tears/'Cause there is freedom in every drop/Sometimes the only way to heal a broken heart is when we fall apart”
Blanca “Shattered (Radio Version)”
Contemporary artist Ronan Keating’s version of “Mama’s Arms” gives a heart ripping illustration of him losing his mother (a must listen). Christian pop artist Blanca does the same in her very vulnerable ballad, “Shattered.” Blanca lost her mother to cancer. And, in her grief, she penned this song.
“Losing someone is something that you can never prepare for,” Blanca tells FreeCCM. “Even if you feel like you’re prepared, it feels like the floor underneath you gets swept right from under your feet when it happens.”
Cancer has taken many friends and family. Besides the grief of losing them, seeing them suffer is just as bad. My aunt and my wife’s cousin both have a cancer diagnosis. I celebrate their small victories, and grieve their painful setbacks.
Big Daddy Weave “All Things New”
Unfortunately, Big Daddy Weave’s lead singer Mike Weaver lost his father to pulmonary fibrosis. And, in his grief, came the song, “All Things New.”
About the song, Mike shared with NRT’s lead contributor Kevin Davis: “We wrote the song as a prayer over my dad. It was a request and a prayer, ‘God of mercy and love, do what only You can do, You make all things new.’”
We The Kingdom “No Doubt About It”
Has anyone ever told you that your loved one passing is in a better place? Yes, it’s not the best response. But, it sounds a little better when it’s in song form.
In a press release, We The Kingdom says its single, “No Doubt About It” is about “how we are all on a journey home [that is, heaven]. Sometimes, that seems like it's so far away, but when we look back and see just how far we have come, we know that it can only be by the grace of God."
When I read the lyrics, I thought about my own journey to heaven. And, when I read the lyrics again, I thought of them as a message from a loved one who passed away: “I’m on my way home.”
“There's no doubt about it/I'm on my way home/I'm not yet where I'm going/But I'm a long way from where I was/I hear a choir of angels/Cheering me on/I'm not yet where I'm going/But I'm a long way from where I was/Oh, from where I was!”
TobyMac “21 Years”
Christian music icon TobyMac lost his 21-year-old son in October 2019. Not even three months later, TobyMac dropped a new song that clearly illustrates his sadness and grief.
Shortly before the song’s release in December 2019, TobyMac wrote on his Instagram: “The last couple of months have been the hardest I’ve ever faced. Part of my process has always been to write about the things I’m going through, but this went to a whole new level. “
TobyMac found getting his thoughts and feelings about losing his firstborn to be therapeutic. But, those thoughts and feelings turned into a very touching song of grief. “’21 Years’ is a song I never wanted to write. I hope it’s for someone out there, or maybe it’s just for me.”
Are ya singin' with the angels?/Are you happy where you are?/Well, until this show is over/And you've run into my arms/God has you in heaven/But I have you in my heart
Austin French “Why God”
When I think back to my grandmother’s death, the question, “Why do people have to die?” comes to mind. Anger and sadness is a byproduct of grief and loss. Contemporary artist Austin French said to our own Kevin Davis that tough questions inspired his song of grief, “Why God.”
Tough questions like, “Why, God, do people have to die? Why does tragedy still have a place in the life of a Christian? Are you even here? Are you with us?”
Austin nearly lost his father in a serious car accident. Consequently, Austin pursued clarity of who God was in his life. He asked many tough questions, which he used as the inspiration for, “Why God?” After six months in a coma, Austin’s dad recovered.
Why God do people have to die/A daughter or a son/Sudden and so young/Long before their time?/Why God do people fall apart/A promise, a ring/Becomes a broken thing/A road that got to hard?/I don't understand/But I understand/Why God I need You
Forsaken Hero “Gracie’s Song”
We don’t necessarily lose friends or family members due to health challenges. Sometimes it’s unforeseen tragedies, like automobile accidents. Emily Price, vocalist for Christian contemporary band Forsaken Hero, lost her friend, Grace, this way. And, in tribute, the band penned “Gracie’s Song.”
Forsaken Hero posted a very touching video about this song. The video description reads, “Gracie's song is a melody dedicated to Emily’s friend who passed away in a tragic car accident. We pray it touches your heart and gives you fond memories of those you've lost.”
Colton Dixon “The Other Side”
Whenever I hear this song, I think of my grandmother. I remember her laughing at any stupid joke I came up with (she was just being a grandma). Years ago, pop singer Colton Dixon’s wife Annie Coggeshall lost her brother. This tragedy happened before Colton knew Annie. The Tennessean reported that “The Other Side” was inspired by Annie’s peace around her brother’s death.
“I know that you're in a better place/But I'm still here missing you today/It isn't easy to say goodbye/But I know it's only for a little while/Run up ahead and I will catch up/'Cause I'm gonna see you when tomorrow comes/On the other side”
Scriptures for grief and loss
Revelation 21:4: “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Psalm 73:26: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
John 11:25-26: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18: For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Paul Phillips is a Canadian journalist with over 10 years of experience writing and editing digital and print content. He specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, and travel. He loves music, movies, and, of course, living for Jesus.
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