As music therapy is becoming more common in end-of-life settings, music can provide a spiritual connection for the dying and their loved-one and can be an important tool to help ease physical and emotional pain.
Songs for the End of Life
This playlist was crafted by the End Well Project, an organization dedicated to creating human-centered interdisciplinary innovation for the end of life experience.
"Don't Fear the Reaper" - Blue Oyster Cult
This song is essentially about (as the title suggests) not fearing death and accepting its inevitability. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClQcUyhoxTg
"The Show Must Go On" - Queen
Brian May penned this song about Freddie Mercury’s illness and it was recorded during the frontman’s final days of life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t99KH0TR-J4
"Tears in Heaven" - Eric Clapton
Famously written about the death of Clapton’s young son in 1987, Clapton has said of this song: “I have got a great deal of happiness and a great deal of healing from music.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxPj3GAYYZ0
"In My Time of Dying" - Led Zeppelin
This famous rock band borrowed the tune from a traditional gospel music song, also known as "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zreiZAM7TSQ
"The Great Gig in the Sky" - Pink Floyd
This song represents a dying person’s transition from fighting against his impending demise, to gradually accepting death. With only 38 words in this entire song, the dynamics of the music play a pivotal role in telling the story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVBCE3gaNxc
"Call on God" - Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
Jones died of cancer in 2016, a year before the albums release. This is a powerful album that confronts mortality and disease through a celebratory joy that is unique to Jones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ru-McU1zig
"Should Have Known Better" - Sufjan Stevens
Stevens' album, Carrie & Lowell, is centered around the death of his mother, Carrie. The despair and honesty mixed with hope makes for an unparalleled album and one that anyone who has dealt with the loss of a parent can connect to. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJJT00wqlOo
"Airplanes" - Local Natives
This one seems to pay tribute to a beloved grandparent now lost. It’s the little things we remember about the people we love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUc7LPRzJc0
"Lay Me Down" - Sam Smith
In this song, Smith lets out his emotions after losing his lover. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaMq2nn5ac0
"Heaven" - Beyonce
This song is about finding the strength in knowing that someone had an incredible life and that knowledge giving you some type of closure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyOok1myLjw
"In My Dreams" - James Morrison
When he wrote this song, Morrison’s dad had recently died and he was hoping he would come into his dreams, so he could see him again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkDUxehpKtk
"See You Again" - Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth
The message of this song is simple but powerful: Everyone has loved ones, and everyone will experience the loss of a loved one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgKAFK5djSk
Anything you want to share?
Is there a piece of music that helped you or think may help others? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your contact information will never be displayed and is entirely confidential.