Lyrical Healing: Using Music for Processing Grief

Tris and Mom… These wounds won’t seem to heal. This pain is just too real. There’s just too much that time cannot erase. When you cried I’d wipe away all of your tears. When you’d scream I’d fight away all of your fears. And I held your hand through all of these years. But you still have all of me.

You used to captivate me by your resonating light. Now I’m bound by the life you left behind. Your face, it haunts my once pleasant dreams. Your voice it chased away all the sanity in me. These wounds won’t seem to heal. This pain is just too real. There’s just too much that time cannot erase. I’ve tried so hard to tell myself that you’re gone. …

“My Immortal” by Evanescence


Songs can touch the deepest recesses of our hearts. I listened to “My Immortal” for the first time during this past weekend, after seeing it suggested in an email from my friend Kathy Nace. I wept for hours, the music bringing up yet another facet of grief.

The lyrics speak so eloquently of what it feels like to lose a beloved child: A child who captivated your heart, who held your hand with love and trust, a child you soothed countless times, a child you held close when wild with fears.

And then to lose that child. The face, the voice, the hugs, all hauntingly familiar yet forever gone.

The pain is too real. Grief had swallowed me up time and again, repeatedly dragging me down into the dark underbelly of life.

Because of their powerful nature, the right songs can help with grieving and healing. It doesn’t need to be an entire song. It can simply involve a turn of phrase that cuts right through your heart.

I had started in June 2015 with months of sometimes breathless agony, sobbing to “How to Save a Life” by The Fray. On repeat. Over. And over. Deeply I held all the shards from that facet of my grief.

Gradually I added “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol. On repeat. Over. And over.

I peered closely into new shards that surfaced.

Other songs began entering the mix, some I had known about, some new. Always played on repeat, always accompanied by fresh, copious tears.

I found I could not move forward with new songs representing progress until I had spent enough time with the ones that spoke to where I was at the time.

Yet the music did help move my grief process forward. It felt like someone understood the ineffable nuances of my pain at each stage.

Now that there is some significant distance from the initial shock, I have the flexibility to move back and forth among the songs I have collected, depending on how I am feeling at the time. I am largely done with some of the songs.

Sometimes I will go weeks before feeling the desire to revisit a certain song. Sometimes a new piece will strike a chord within. The sound vibrates into my soul and the tears flow once more. Having seen people cry ten or more years after losing a loved one, I know this flooding can occur at any time. As the song says, “There’s just too much that time cannot erase.” Yet there can be healing.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Courtney Armstrong, in “Music: A powerful ally in your counseling sessions,” explains how she uses songs to assist her clients with healing. She includes a couple examples with playlists that were used in her Counseling Today article this month.


Armstrong, Courtney. Music: A powerful ally in your counseling sessions. Counseling Today, March 2016, Vol 58/Number 9, p 60-65. Retrieved March 8, 2015, from

2 thoughts on “Lyrical Healing: Using Music for Processing Grief

  1. Tristan looks like an angel in this picture! I love the idea of making a grieving and healing playlist for yourself or someone else! Thank you, Heidi!

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