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55 Best Songs About Death, Grief, & Loss

December 19, 2023
Songs About Death

I’ve selected the best songs about death, grief, and loss, each one a poignant and powerful expression of the emotions and reflections these experiences evoke.

This article is a compassionate exploration of music that offers solace, understanding, and a sense of shared human experience in times of sorrow.

Table of Contents

Top songs about death, grief, & loss

  • Eric Clapton – “Tears in Heaven”
  • Evanescence – “My Immortal”
  • Billy Boyd – “The Last Goodbye”
  • Green Day – “Wake Me Up When September Ends”
  • Cat Power – “I’ll Be Seeing You”
  • Billie Eilish – “Everybody Dies”
  • David Bowie – “Lazarus”
  • Kovacs – “The Devil You Know”
  • Daughter – “Medicine”
  • Avril Lavigne – “Slipped Away”

1. Eric Clapton – “Tears in Heaven”

“Tears in Heaven” is arguably one of the most beautiful songs about the death of a loved one.

Eric Clapton wrote it for his four-year-old son Conor who tragically died when he fell out of a 53rd-floor window.

Clapton experienced unimaginable loss and music was one of his ways of coping.

“Would you know my name?
I saw you in heaven
Would you be the same?
If I saw you in heaven.”

2. Evanescence – “My Immortal”

Without a doubt, “My Immortal” is one of the most popular death songs. And it even feels natural to call it like that.

On the other hand, in “My Immortal”, death is both haunting and melancholic.  

It’s one of the powerful songs about losing someone that takes death seriously.

“These wounds won’t seem to heal, this pain is just too real
There’s just too much that time cannot erase.”

3. Billy Boyd – “The Last Goodbye”

“To these memories I will hold
With your blessing I will go

To turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell.”

“The Last Goodbye” is the ending credit song of the film “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.”

It was written and performed by the actor Billy Boyd (Pippin.)

It’s one of the suitable songs for someone who passed away.

4. Green Day – “Wake Me Up When September Ends”

When it comes to songs about grief and loss, “Wake Me Up When September Ends” certainly comes to mind.

The song brings nostalgic feelings at the very beginning and builds up towards the end.

“As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends.”

5. Cat Power – “I’ll Be Seeing You”

“I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon
But I’ll be seeing you.”

If you’re wondering what is a good song for someone who passed away, “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Cat Power might be one of the answers.

It’s tender and melancholic, and it reminds us that we can “see” the loved ones who passed away in everyday life. They will keep living inside of us.

6. Billie Eilish – “Everybody Dies”

Billie Eilish is aware of the fact that everybody dies.

After all, she is known for turning her dark thoughts into captivating music. And her song “Everybody Dies” is one of the examples.

7. David Bowie – “Lazarus”

David Bowie is one of the most unique artists that ever lived. And “Lazarus” was his way of saying goodbye.

Some people say he predicted his own death. But he knew he was dying.

On the other hand, he only discovered his cancer treatment was to be stopped when he was already filming the “Lazarus” music video.

Either way, Bowie coped with death in a very specific way. Artistic, bold, and dignified.

8. Kovacs – “The Devil You Know”

One of the things that are associated with death is, of course, the devil.

And Dutch singer Kovacs did a nice (and catchy) interpretation of the topic.

9. Daughter – “Medicine”

Lyrically, “Medicine” is not one of the songs about someone passing away.

But it’s very emotional and healing.

And these lines might make it quite relatable as well:

“Pick it up, pick it all up
And start again
You’ve got a second chance
You could go home
Escape it all.”

10. Avril Lavigne – “Slipped Away”

Avril Lavigne dedicated this song to her grandfather who passed away.

Therefore, “Slipped Away” can be categorized as one of the mourning songs.

As we’ve already mentioned, listening to relatable music is a healthy way of coping with loss.

“I didn’t get around to kiss you
Goodbye on the hand
I wish that I could see you again
I know that I can’t.”

11. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Brendan’s Death Song”

“Brendan’s Death Song” is clearly one of the songs about death, but it sounds rather sad and hopeful at the same time.

In fact, it seems like one of the songs about accepting death.

Red Hot Chili Peppers dedicated it to Brendan Mullen, their friend, and owner of the LA nightclub who gave the band their first break.

12. Rob Dougan – “Clubbed to Death (Matrix Soundtrack)”

When thinking about songs about dying, this amazing track immediately comes to mind.

It’s a powerful song from “The Matrix” soundtrack.

“Clubbed to Death” will make you think about death from another perspective. And it will make you feel more alive.

13. Björk – “Play Dead”

Björk is another unique artist who sings about death in a very authentic way.

“Play Dead” is perhaps not one of the classic songs about death, but it’s surely a memorable one.

14. Jeff Buckley – “Hallelujah”

There are countless cover versions of “Hallelujah.

And although we initially chose the original version by Leonard Cohen, we decided to include Jeff Buckley instead.

There is something incredibly delicate and touching about Buckley’s approach to “Hallelujah.”

Nevertheless, it’s hands down one of the most beautiful songs for grieving.

15. Christina Aguilera – “Hurt”

If you’re searching for pop songs about losing someone, look no further than Christina Aguilera’s 2006 hit.

Aguilera wrote “Hurt” in memory of her father.

“Seems like it was yesterday when I saw your face
You told me how proud you were but I walked away
If only I knew what I know today.”

16. Simple Plan – “Gone Too Soon”

“‘Cause now I’m lost
So unprotected
In the blink of an eye
I never got to say goodbye.”

“Gone Too Soon” by Simple Plan is one of the sad rock songs about loss.

It tells the story of someone who’s gone too soon. And when someone you love passes away, it most often feels that way. You’re never ready for it.

17. The Kills – “Doing it to Death”

“Doing it to Death” is a lead single of The Kills’ fifth studio album “Ash & Ice.”

Unlike some of the previous tracks of this list, it’s quite direct, dark, and catchy.

18. The Black Keys – “Dead and Gone”

The Black Keys released “Dead and Gone” on their popular album “El Camino.”

It’s a fast-paced rock tune that will make you feel the opposite of dead and gone.

19. Fontaines D.C. – “A Hero’s Death”

Here comes another fast-paced rock song about death. This one hits differently though.

The line: “Life ain’t always empty” is repeated over and over, making us believe it’s sarcastic.

Whether it is or isn’t sarcastic, “A Hero’s Death” is an interesting song about someone dying. And that someone very well might be a hero.

20. Bob Dylan – “In My Time of Dyin'”

As you would expect from Bob Dylan, “In My Time of Dyin'” is a rather easy-going song about dying.

It features a simple melody, quirky lyrics, and Dylan’s accepting view of death.

21. The Dead South – “In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company”

The acceptance of death can also be felt in The Dead South’s 2014 tune.

Although the lyrics are a bit grim, the song is really catchy, simple, and fun.

22. Tom Waits – “Dead and Lovely”

Of course, Tom Waits also has an interesting approach to the topic of death.

And he sounds so calm and comfortable when he sings:

“Everything that is left
They will only plow under
Soon every one you know
Will be gone.”

23. Sarah McLachlan – “Angel”

On the other hand, Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” is very tender and melancholic.

It could be categorized as one of the emotional songs about loss and grief.

24. The Smiths – “Asleep”

“Asleep” by The Smiths is often interpreted as one of the songs about dying.

Either way, it’s a beautiful piano-driven song that feels sad and comforting at the same time.

25.  Band of Horses – “Funeral”

This is one of the powerful songs about death and dying. Well, at least according to the title.

On the other hand, “Funeral” feels like it celebrates life. Or appreciates it, in a certain way.

“At every occasion, I’ll be ready for the funeral
At every occasion once more, it’s called the funeral.”

26. Roo Panes – “Indigo Home”

This gentle indie track can help you cope with a loss of a loved one.

It’s calming and somehow healing.

“Dry eyes
Roaring falls
‘Cause God knows I’ve traveled far
So far
But this is where it ends.”

27. Diddy, Faith Evans & 112 – “I’ll Be Missing You”

“I’ll Be Missing You” is probably one of the most popular songs about losing a loved one.

Of course, the song is based on the 1983 single “Every Breath You Take” by the Police.

“Thinkin’ of the day, when you went away
What a life to take, what a bond to break
I’ll be missing you.”

28. Billy Joel – “Only the Good Die Young”

Billy Joel believes only the good die young.

We’re not sure if that’s completely true. He probably didn’t mean literally anyway, at least according to the atmosphere of the song.

Unlike many other songs about dying, “Only the Good Die Young” is joyous and uplifting.

29. M.I.A. – “Bad Girls”

On the other hand, M.I.A. claims: “Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well.”

Taking into consideration the singer’s background, activism, and political opinions, “Bad Girls” tackles the oppression and liberation of women.

Either way, it’s one of the M.I.A’s most recognizable songs.

30. James Taylor – “Fire and Rain”

“Just yesterday mornin’, they let me know you were gone
Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you.”

Fire and Rain” is one of the gentle songs about death of a loved one.

Although it was inspired by James Taylor’s painful personal experiences, “Fire and Rain” sounds very sweet and calming.

31. Blood, Sweat & Tears – “And When I Die”

“And When I Die” is probably one of the most cheerful songs about death.

The protagonist in this song is not scared of death. He sees it as something natural (as it is) and necessary.

“And when I die
and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
There’ll be one child born and
a world to carry on, to carry on.”

32. Annie Lennox – “Into the West”

Annie Lennox wrote “Into the West” for Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

It’s one of the most peaceful songs for grieving.

What makes it even more emotional is the story behind it: it was inspired by a young New Zealand filmmaker who was dying of cancer at the time. Both Annie Lennox and Peter Jackson appreciated his work.

The first public performance of “Into the West” was at Duncan’s funeral.

33. The National – “Light Years”

When someone you care about dies, you feel like they’re suddenly far away from you. Perhaps light-years away.

The National released “Light Years” on their studio album “I am Easy To Find.”

It’s an incredibly beautiful and delicate song. It’s almost meditative, and it can definitely be categorized as one of the grieving songs.

34. Mumford and Sons – “Guiding Light”

Mumford and Sons’ music also has healing powers.

And their track “Guiding Light” is a personal song about love and healing. It’s one of the songs that help you cope with loss.

But fix your eyes on me
I guess I’m all you have
And I swear you’ll see the dawn again.

35. Beirut – “When I Die”

This song sounds slightly melancholic.

But it’s also hopeful and dreamy; it will help you appreciate the fact that you’re alive.

“When I die
I want to travel light
Or rinse my hands
So I catch the satellite.”

36. MGMT – “When You Die”

MGMT wrote a song about death in their own style.

It’s upbeat and quirky but also somehow nostalgic.

37. Boards of Canada – “Reach For the Dead”

“Reach For the Dead” by the British electronic duo Boards of Canada is a very captivating tune.

Although what makes a certain song relatable are its lyrics, sometimes a melody is all you need.

38. Placebo – “Song to Say Goodbye”

At first, it seems like Placebo has many songs about death, but it turns out it’s not so easy to find one.

But “Song to Say Goodbye” seems appropriate.

And it’s one of the group’s signature songs.

39. The Weeknd – “Die For You”

There are a lot of songs about dying for someone. And The Weeknd, of course, managed to write the most catchy one.

“Die For You” talks about love (or infatuation) and being ready to do whatever it takes for someone.

40. Ed Sheeran – “Supermarket Flowers”

Ed Sheeran wrote this touching song as a tribute to his grandmother.

In fact, he wrote “Supermarket Flowers” the same day she passed away. It was his way of processing his emotions.

As he said in one of the interviews: “You can be really upset and dwell on something or you can put all the good memories in one song.”

41. Brian Eno – “The Big Ship”

As we’ve mentioned earlier, sometimes all you need to is a great melody.

And Brian Eno managed to convey so many emotions with “The Big Ship.”

The song was featured in Peter Jackon’s “Lovely Bones.” It’s a movie about death, grief, and dealing with loss.

42. Emeli Sande – “Heaven”

In the movie “Lovely Bones” that we’ve just mentioned, the main character Susie Salmon watches her family from heaven.

We can define heaven in a lot of different ways. And for many people, imagining heaven is a way of accepting someone’s death.

Although Emeli Sande’s “Heaven” isn’t one of the songs about loved ones in heaven, it’s a powerful and memorable track.

43. Peter Gabriel – “I Grieve”

This is definitely one of the most beautiful songs for grieving.

It’s sad but very hopeful; so, everything you need from a song about grief.

Because life does carry on.

“Did I dream this belief
Or did I believe this dream?
Now I will find relief
I grieve.”

44. Ludovico Einaudi – “Nuvole Bianche”

If you’re looking for songs for grieving, you should also include classical music.

And when it comes to contemporary classical music, Ludovico Einaudi is one of the greatest. His music is gentle, soothing, and easy to listen to.

45. Mozart – “Lacrimosa”

It’s true; pianists have always been inspired by the tragedy and mystery of death.

And Requiem (or Mass for the dead) is, among else, a musical composition appropriate for the funeral.

And what makes “Lacrimosa” the most powerful requiem ever written is the fact that Mozart died before he had completed it.

46. Aqualung and Lucy Schwartz – “Cold”

“And between heaven and hell
As it dawns soon
As it dawns
Over and over.”

There is something very melancholic and dark about this song.

But if you’re dealing with a loss of a loved one, you have to go through a phase of pure sadness first. And accepting your emotions is one of the ways of overcoming that phase.

47. The Kooks – “See Me Now”

Many people have lost someone when they were young.

The Kooks frontman Luke Pritchard dedicated “See Me Now” to his father who died when he was just a boy.

It’s a beautiful song with heartfelt lyrics.

“If you could see me now
If you could see my smile
See your little boy
Oh, would you be proud?”

48. Lana Del Rey – “Born To Die”

There is something very clear yet dark in the statement: we’re all born to die.

As you would expect from Lana Del Rey, she approaches the topic of death in a rather romantic way.

And her first universal hit “Born To Die” remains one of the best songs she’s ever released.

49. Pearl Jam – “Last Kiss”

“Last Kiss” by Pearl Jam is a surprisingly cheerful song.

But the lyrics make it emotional and rather sad:

“Oh, where oh where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me
She’s gone to heaven, so I got to be good
So I can see my baby when I leave this world.”

50. Muse – “Dead Inside”

Muse turned to futuristic sound in their track “Dead Inside.”

It’s actually a song about the end of a relationship.

But being dead inside can refer to many different situations.

“Unleash a million drones
Confine me then erase me babe
Do you have no soul?
It’s like it died long ago.”

51. Bleachers – “Everybody Lost Somebody”

This song is Bleacher’s perky way of saying that everybody lost somebody.

And that’s always hard, but it’s a part of life.

52. SOKO – “We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow”

“Give me all your love now
‘Cause for all we know
We might be dead by tomorrow.”

“We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow” is not one of the songs about people dying. It’s about being alive: fully and consciously.

And it’s about choosing to love.

53. Bruce Springsteen – “The Last Carnival”

Bruce Springsteen wrote “The Last Carnival” about the death of his longtime bandmate Daniel Federici.

In one of the interviews, Springsteen said that writing this song started as a way of making sense of his passing.

“Sundown, sundown
The carnival train’s leaving town
Where are you now my darling Billy?”

54. The The – “Love Is Stronger Than Death”

In the end, it’s important to know that love is always stronger than death.

And The The found a nice way to put these thoughts into a song.

“Here come the blue skies Here comes springtime
When the rivers run high & the tears run dry
When everything that dies
Shall rise.”

55. Nick Cave – “Into My Arms”

“Into My Arms” is probably one of the best love songs of all time.

It’s delicate, emotional, and thoughtful.

And it’s a perfect ending to our list of songs about death.

This kind of music can offer you solace and space for mourning, but also remind you to appreciate life.

“And I don’t believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you I wonder if that’s true
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you.”

Final Thoughts

Since each person sees death differently, music about death is quite versatile.

Some songs about dying are ironically very lively.

And songs about death of a loved one are often sad and emotionally intense. But they can be very helpful to someone going through a difficult time.

In fact, music is a great way of dealing with such a difficult topic. Whether you’re coping with a loss or you’re simply confused by the concept of death, music can be helpful.

All of the songs on our list can offer you a different perspective on death. And we hope you found in them what you were looking for.

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Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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