Grief Soundtrack

In 2007 Rolling Stone’s writer Rob Sheffield wrote his memoir, “Love is a Mixtape: Life and Loss One Song at A Time”.  The concept was simple, 22 chapters written around 22 mix tapes. The content was not: grief, love, and a relationship that ended far too soon when his wife, Renee, unexpectedly died of a pulmonary embolism.

love is a mix tape

Rob listens to mixtapes, lots of mixtapes, and he takes us back to the days when we created mixtapes for every mood and every moment. The “You Like Music, I Like Music, I Can Tell Were Going to Be Friends” mixtape, the Break-Up mixtape, mixtapes for dancing and doing the dishes and falling asleep.  Through his 22 tapes he reveals to us his deep grief, his incredible memories, and shows us how their love of music inadvertently turns into the music of their love…and life…and loss.

When I was in high school we used boom boxes and cassettes.  I have such vivid memories of the hours I spent combing through my music library, trying to create the perfect playlist.  And when I didn’t have that perfect song? Listening to the radio and waiting to push record at just the right moment to capture it.  I had to choose my songs wisely because I only had so much room and OH THE FRUSTRATION when Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ got cut off because Side A ran out.  Gone are the days of the mixtape, replaced now by CDs and iTunes, but the emotions behind a well-crafted playlist are still the same.

Like Sheffield says, “…there are all kinds of mixtapes. There is always a reason to make one.”  Before someone important to you died, you may only have had reason to make “Pump It Up: Gym Mix Tape #1”; but now the occasions are endless…

Cheer Me Up Mixgrief songs
Energizing Mix
Mix to Make Me Strong
I Feel Crappy Today Mix
I Want to Be Sad Mix
Remembering You Mix

The songs on these playlists are the soundtrack of our grief – a soundtrack that we replay over and over because it helps us remember and it helps us to feel.

Create your own play list.  It can make all the difference.  In the words of Peter Rollins, who put it far more eloquently that we could ever hope to, “No matter how great a song is it cannot raise the dead, cure cancer or make your lost lover return. Music does not change the world you live in, reverse time or change history. It does not promise snake oil solutions to life’s woes. But music is anything but impotent; indeed it can be experienced as one of the most potent forces in our universe. For music can assist us in changing the way that we interact with the world we live in.  Great music can help us to affirm life, embrace it, face it and sublimate it. In other words music can help sensitize us to, and celebrate, the life that we participate in.”

Share your grief soundtrack with us, or at least a song or two.  Leave a comment!


Crying In Public. Like a Rockstar. -

Posted on March 4, 2013 at 12:22 am

[…] 10)  Play some happy music.  We just posted on music as something that can have a real impact on your mood.  Keep a playlist or CD of songs that cheer you up handy on your phone, computer, mp3 player, in your car etc so you can listen to it when you need to pull yourself together.  A break in your car and a happy song can sometimes be enough to regroup, wipe your tears, and go back to working, shopping, socializing, or whatever else you were doing.  Check out our grief playlist post. […]


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Posted on March 13, 2013 at 10:25 am

[…] Grief Soundtracks […]


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Posted on March 24, 2013 at 11:26 am

[…] couch, we have talked here about exercise as important for self-care, and we have also talked about how we use music and playlists to help with mood.  Scientific American posted this week about the psychology of a good workout playlist.   If […]



Posted on March 2, 2014 at 2:37 am

I have written my own soundtrack through several songs that flowed out of me during the intensity of grief. I would love to share them with you! <3



Posted on March 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Yeah, would love to hear!



Posted on April 30, 2014 at 9:43 pm

This is everything I’ve felt in the deepest darkest moments:

Oasis by Tarja Turunen



Posted on April 25, 2015 at 1:54 am

My Grief Soundtrack

1. Amazing Grace – Celtic Women
2. Address in the Stars – Caitlin & Will
3. All of Me – Matt Hammit
4. All of the Stars – Ed Sheeran
5. Always on Your Side – Sheryl Crow
6. Angel – Sarah McLachlan
7. Angel Wings – Artist Unknown
8. Angels on the Moon (Acoustic) – Thriving Ivory
9. Blessings – Laura Story
10. Brave – Idina Menzel
11. Come to Jesus – Jerico Road
12. Even If – Kutless
13. Far Away – Nikcleback
14. Fire and Rain (Glee Version) – Glee Cast
15. For Good – Kristin Chenoweth & Idina Menzel
16. Forever – Rascal Flatts
17. Forgiven – Within Temptation
18. Friends Never Say Goodbye – Road to El Dorado Cast
19. Go Rest High On that Mountain – Sandi Patty
20. Heaven Got Another Angel – Gorden Garner
21. Heaven Was Needing a Hero – Jo Dee Messina
22. Held – Natalie Grant
23. The Hurt & The Healer – MercyMe
24. I Dreamed a Dream – Anne Hathaway
25. I Miss You – Blink 182
26. I Will Not Say Goodbye – Danny Gokey
27. I Will Remember You – Sarah McLachlan
28. If I Never Knew You – Tiffany Thorton
29. Love Will Find A Way – Chorus/Gene Miller/Liz Callaway
30. My Immortal – Evanescence
31. Never Alone (Acoustic Version) – BarlowGirl
32. No Surrender – Glee Cast
33. One More Day – Diamond Rio
34. A Place Nearby – Lene Marlin
35. Please Remember Me – Tim McGraw
36. Red River Valley – Suzy Bogguss
37. Seasons of Grace – Helma Sawatzky
38: Seasons of Love – Rent
39. Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
40. Starts With Goodbye – Carrie Underwood
41. Tears of an Angel – RyanDan
42. Tell Your Heart to Beat Again – Danny Gokey
43. Things Left Unsaid (Acoustic) – Disciple
44. There You’ll Be – Faith Hill
45. With Hope – Steven Curtis Chapman
46. You’ll Be In My Heart – Phil Collins
47. Whenever You Remember – Carrie Underwood
48. Visitor from Heaven – Artist Unknown



Posted on April 25, 2015 at 9:33 am

So Far Away – Avenged Sevenfold
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day
Oasis – Tarja Turunen
Now We are Free (Theme from Gladiator) – Lisa Gerrard



Posted on April 25, 2015 at 2:07 am

I’d add Falconer Portals of light
creed, arms wide open
eric clapton tears in heaven
psalm 102
Johny Cash- hurt, so lonesome I can cry,
Phantom of the opera Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again



Posted on June 5, 2015 at 3:38 am

These are some of the songs that bring me comfort since my teenage daughter Leah died last year from the side effects of her cancer treatment:

1) Worn by 10th Avenue North
2) No Man Is An Island by 10th Avenue North
3) Never Once by Matt Redman
4) Blessings by Laura Story
5) Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns
6) Somewhere Only We Know by Lily Allen
7) Oceans ~ Where Feet May Fail by Hillsong
8) A Beautiful Life by Mikeschair



Posted on February 23, 2016 at 5:37 pm

My heart will go on by Celine Dione
Lost without your love by bread
Sleep’s dark and silent gate by Jackson Browne
Song for Adam by Jackson Browne