Listening to sad music has actually been linked with a number of positive experiences like nostalgia, imagination, empathy, peacefulness, tenderness, transcendence, and wonder. The most meaningful music is often related to memory which, as you know, commonly comes in the form of bittersweet nostalgia after a loss.
As music is an important part of many people’s lives and helps many of us get through difficult times, we’ve collated the top 10 Spotify songs that offer a relatable and uplifting perspective on the experience of losing a loved one. Some are emotional and evocative whilst others are more lighthearted.
1. “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd
“Shine on You Crazy Diamond” is a tribute and remembrance song dedicated to Syd Barrett who was the former lead guitarist of the band. Sadly Syd was battling with drug abuse and mental health issues and was no longer able to stay in the band.
The song is written from one friend to another as the band mourns the loss of their friend who has succumbed to addiction, drug abuse and mental illness. The song conveys how much the band misses their friend while hoping he continues to “shine on”.
2. “Come Back” by Pearl Jam
“Come Back” is a gentle, slow song that symbolises the feeling of missing a loved one after they have gone. The lyrics and tone of the song perfectly convey the powerful need to see the loved one again after losing them and is very relatable for anyone going through grief.
‘And these days, they linger on
And in the night as I’m waiting for
The real possibility I may meet you in my dream
I go to sleep
If I don’t fall apart will my memories stay clear
So you had to go and I had to remain here’
3. “Let It Be” by The Beatles
‘In my darkest hour, she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be,’ sings the lead singer Paul McCartney in this Beatles classic.
He wrote this song about his late mother, who sadly passed away when he was only 14 years old. Later in his life, she visited him in a dream and he recalls how meaningful it was to see her again. The hopeful tone of this song offers a healing comfort for those who have lost someone.
4. “Fix You” by Coldplay
“Fix You” was written by lead singer Chris Martin about his partner Gwyneth Paltrow. When their relationship had begun, Gwyneth had just lost her father, and was still grieving his loss. The song is about helping someone through a time of need and being there for them. The song has a hopeful sense of healing and emphasises the importance of having family and friends there to support you through a difficult time.
5. “Nothing Compares to You” by Sinead O’Connor
“Nothing Compares to You” was written by Prince, the lyrics of this song are emotionally charged, which is only emphasised in the music video when singer Sinead O’Connor allows a single tear to roll down her cheek. “I thought, ‘I should let this happen’,” she told Rolling Stone. The song’s tale of love and loss had reminded her of her mum, who passed away in a car accident 5 years before the single was released.
6. “Pictures of You” by The Cure
In this gentle, nostalgic song the lead singer Robert Smith looks back through photographs of a lost loved one. He perfectly captures the feeling of sadness and love that one feels when flooded with memories of someone who has passed away.
The Cure are known for their ability to write songs that are able to capture conflicting emotions such as happiness and melancholia at once. In “Pictures of You” there is a feeling of sadness and loss, however, the lyrics have a beautiful, overwhelming sense of gratitude for having known the loved one.
Jenn, a member of our Care Team, loves this song and swears by its therapeutic powers. She says:
“Pictures of You” takes me back in time and makes me deeply long for something despite not knowing what for. It’s cathartic and when the song is done, I feel better.
7. “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M
R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” was originally written to prevent people from taking their own lives.
The artists wanted listeners in particular who may be suffering from depression or going through difficult times, to identify with the song and hopefully provide some peace and comfort to them in a time of need. The main message of the song is that “everybody hurts sometimes” meaning that you are not alone in your suffering, there are many others that can understand what you are going through, so hold on. We feel this sentiment can comfort those mourning a loved one as well.
8. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley
The iconic song, originally released by Leonard Cohen in 1984 and later covered by the late Jeff Buckley. The song’s mournful tale of lost love has a soulful, uplifting tone that can be comforting to listen to when going through a hard time.
9. “Carry You Home” by James Blunt
“Carry You Home” is a song of loss, detailing what it is like to watch a loved one pass away. In the music video, it shows the story of James blunt as a soldier, ‘carrying home’ a belonging of one of his comrades who died on the field to the deceased’s wife. This is something that James Blunt himself may have had experiences with; as he did work in the armed forces before his music career, so it offers a personal element to the song.
10. “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton
“Tears in Heaven” is a very moving and personal song by Eric Clapton about his experience of losing his 4-year-old son. Clapton describes writing this song as a cathartic and healing experience. Lines such as ‘Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?’ are extremely relatable and emotional to listen to.
Bonus Track: Your Loved One’s Favourite Song
Lastly, we think it can be really comforting to listen to music that reminds you of your loved one. Whether it was their favourite song, a song you enjoyed listening to together or a tune that captures their personality.
Music can be extremely powerful at helping us recall old memories and can vividly bring them back to us. You can either close your eyes and think of them or sing it at the top of your lungs in their honour!
We hope our playlist has helped soothe your heart and mind during a difficult time, however, if you’d like to hear more you can listen to our “Songs to Grieve to” playlist over on our Neo Spotify.