As a writer for Eterneva, I am fortunate to tell the stories of remarkable people and pets who’ve made a lasting impact on those they loved. While our customers celebrate and honor their loved ones with one-of-a-kind memorial diamonds, it’s become clear to me that each person has a unique relationship with grief.
So, I feel in good company sharing my own unique experience with grief and how music has helped me through it, one day at a time.
Over the last few years I’ve written stories, reflected on the lives who came before us, cried, listened to music, laughed, and ebbed and flowed with the multitude of emotions that accompany loss and grief. I also surveyed over a hundred people to understand what songs have helped them through their grief.
To me there’s no better way to express how I’m feeling through my grief journey than the right song at the right time. "Better out than in, I always say." So today, I want to share with you a glimpse into how music has accompanied my grief journey and share some playlists our team has put together especially for you to help you through your journey. 💞
The Song That Helped Me Let Go
Right before my sweet Chewbacca died, I heard the song “Hold My Girl” by George Ezra. I had never heard the song before, but I had finished my playlist and so Spotify started recommending songs. And this particular recommendation cut deep.
I held her weak body in my arms as I swayed around the room. The chorus repeated…
“I've got time, I've got love
Got confidence you'll rise above
Give me a minute to hold my girl
Give me a minute to hold my girl
Crowded town, silent bed
Pick a place to rest your head, and
Give me a minute to hold my girl
Give me a minute to hold my girl”
Halfway through the song I completely lost it. Sobbing away as Chewy stared back at me, purring in comfort.
I knew my time to hold my girl was limited and I didn’t know how I would get through the days and weeks that followed, witnessing her suffering and ultimately making the incomprehensible decision to give her wings (after promising her she would live forever).
Work deadlines piled up and getting through each day without completely breaking down became more and more challenging. Chewy’s days were numbered and how could I focus on anything besides giving her comfort, treats, and all the love?
I work from home and am fortunate to work with caring and compassionate people who held space for me throughout my journey with grief, which started way before Chewy passed. I can’t even tell you how many times I wiped away tears and put Chewy on her bed on my desk as I started a call. I’d think to myself, “I hope I can hold it together for the next 30 minutes.”
I remember one therapy session where all I did was hold Chewy and cry to my therapist. There was nothing anyone could do or say to make the pain go away.
I was scared to lose her, I was alone at home watching her struggle, and I didn’t want to think about life without her. My anxiety amplified and my heart ached. I lost motivation to do anything besides be by her side. I needed to give her everything while I still could. She needed to know how much she meant to me, and I told her over and over.
When I heard that beautiful song by George Ezra, there was something inside of me that just knew that I needed to let go. I would always be able to hold my girl, and it was up to me to figure out how I’d do that when her meows and sweet snuggles were gone.
Music’s Comforting Role in Grief
There is nothing that can comfort me as much as music could in those moments when I was alone. I listened to music to connect me to my emotions and ultimately to Chewy.
After she passed I listened to “Hold My Girl” every single day, sometimes multiple times. I cried and cried. When I needed a break from crying, I’d put on some Bob Marley or something upbeat and give myself some time to catch my breath.
The right lyrics or melody could easily open the floodgate of tears, yet I didn’t feel alone. I recognized how universal grief was through the emotions wrapped up in a song. Music became a mirror of what I was feeling.
Music Brings the Living Together
As my partner and I were navigating our first loss together, music gave us the permission to be real and express our emotions with each other.
I still remember him getting home from work early on Chewy’s last day with us. “All I Want” by Kodaline came on the speaker and we just cried holding each other as the lyrics played…
All I want is nothing more
To hear you knocking at my door
'Cause if I could see your face once more
I could die as a happy man I'm sure
When you said your last goodbye
I died a little bit inside
I lay in tears in bed all night
Alone without you by my side
But if you loved me
Why did you leave me
There were no words. We both knew what was to come and music gave us the permission to be real with each other without trying to make it better. Music and a hug... sometimes it's all we can do.
Music Connects Us to the Memories
While listening to music can be a great mirror of emotions, it can also be an anchor for memories that will last a lifetime. Closing our eyes and listening to the right song can bring us right back to a core memory with a loved one.
I'll never forget the first time Chewy really opened up to me. She wasn’t fond of being held, but in the last year of her life she let her guard down and trusted me as I picked her up. I remember dancing with her to "We are family" by Sister Sledge and she stared up into my eyes as we moved around the room.
Now whenever I hear that song I think about the happy times and how courageous she was to let me into her world. It’s a song that sparks joy, even though she’s no longer here to dance with me.
When I asked the Eterneva team if anyone else had a song that stuck out in their grief journey, Jenn Williams had a touching story to share.
“When I was a freshman in high school my brother's best friend Daryl passed away in a car accident (he was a senior and fell asleep at the wheel). The funeral was HUGE, I still have never seen a funeral service so large and full of people who loved him. He was the epitome of a high school jock and just the nicest, handsomest guy. Lightning Crashes by Live was played at his funeral and every single time I hear that song I think about Daryl and that funeral service, and then naturally begin to think about others I have loved and lost over the years. Its lyrics might be a little on the strange side, but its message about the cycle of life, and death, and then reincarnation is powerful.”
Making A Grief Playlist to Reflect
I remember when my Grandmom passed away in 2019. I had just landed in Europe where I would be living for the next nine months.
I was an ocean away from my family and felt lost in my grief. I didn’t have someone I could talk to and frankly even if I did, it wouldn’t have mattered. I felt that I needed to turn inward, and music helped me to do that.
I was alone in another country, yet turning to music and putting together a playlist to help me feel gave me great comfort. I named the playlist “Goodbye For Now” and it ended up being the music I used as I practiced yoga, allowing the emotions to flow through my body with every breath.
Now, on occasion I’ll revisit this playlist as a way to honor my grandmom. I think about how far I’ve come since I created the playlist and celebrate everything she taught me and continues to teach me.
Music sometimes tells the story that we cannot otherwise express. So when you're ready, I highly recommend giving it a try yourself and making your own playlist to honor and celebrate your loved one in a unique way.
5 Playlists to Help Through Each Stage Of Your Grief Journey
Not every song has to be tied to a core memory with our loved one. Some songs teach us, some songs remind us of their love, and sometimes we hear the right song at the right time and it’s forever written into our story.
And just like every song might have a different purpose, each emotion that accompanies our journey through loss is there to teach us about the love we hold for our beloved person or pet.
It’s not realistic to have a one-size-fits-all playlist for those going through grief. Every person will have a unique relationship with grief and as our journey continues there will be days where we want to feel it all, some days where we wish the grief would go away so we can just be normal for a day, and other days where we feel inspired to honor and celebrate our loved ones.
So with that in mind, our team compiled five different playlists for you to choose from as you traverse your journey through loss and grief. Each song has been hand picked with you in mind. We hope you can listen to these playlists and feel the love we have for you and your remarkable loved one.
And if a certain song touches or inspires you (whether it’s on one of these playlists or not), we’d love to hear about it. We invite you to schedule a time to talk with someone on our team so that we can learn more about your loved one and the songs that connect you.
Playlist to Quiet Your Mind
The Quiet Your Mind playlist is a collection of songs, tones and sounds to help ground you, quiet your mind, and to center yourself.
Let’s face it, sometimes the emotions are a lot to handle as we go through grief. Our nervous system gets put to the test and the physical effects of grief can be overwhelming.
While there will be plenty of time to feel emotions after a loved one passes, we also believe it’s vital to make self-care a priority. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and lyrics are simply too much to take on, give this playlist a listen.
“Ludovico Einaudi really calmed me when I was grieving. It’s beautiful and helps me relax even now, many years after my grief.”
This Quiet Your Mind playlist includes the following relaxing songs:
- Nuvole Biance - Ludovico Einaudi
- Midnight Souls Still Remain – M83
- Suaimhneas – Ceilidh
- Ascension – Zen Music Garden
- Grounded - Sacred Earth
- Unwind - Simon Wester
- Wanderstar - Amel Scott
- Silhouette - Biba Dupont
- Bagels And Coffee - Mister Decaf, soave lofi
- Avocado Maki - Lipoov, TwoChills, 93Alekk
- Chakra Balancing - Radio Meditation Music
- Turquoise - Koresma
- Intro - Kygo
- Hail the Underdog - UTAH
- Soulmerge - Ashana
- Kindred Spirit - Deuter
- Truth - Shallou
- Introspection - Laraaji
- May It Be - Enya
Playlist to Be in the Moment
The Be in the Moment playlist is a collection of laid back, relaxing music to help you block out the distractions and be more present in the moment.
Do you ever feel like just putting your grief on the shelf for a couple of hours, or heck, minutes? When it all becomes too much, give this playlist a chance to lift your mood and remember the joys in life that still exist.
“Sometimes I just play my stereo at home and dance my ass off by myself. It’s a welcome distraction.”
This Be in the Moment playlist includes the following uplifting songs:
- Alone in Kyoto - Air
- Northern Lights - Lux
- Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
- Poolside – Esperar Pra Ver
- Jack Johnson – Upside Down
- Boombox – Showboat
- Gabriel - Lamb
- Promised Land - SoulChillaz
- I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash
- What I Got - Sublime
- Show Me - Big Wild, Hundred Waters
- Maker - Big Wild
- Memories That Call You - ODESZA, Monsoonsiren
- Reverie - Above & Beyond
- This Must Be The Place - Sure Sure
- Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
- Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles
- Put Down What You Are Carrying - Trevor Hall, Brett Dennen
- Right On - Nathaniel Rateliff
- Sunrise - Norah Jones
- New Shoes - Paolo Nutini
- Send Me On My Way - Rusted Root
- Lovely Day - Bill Withers
- Take it Easy - Eagles
- Take Me To The Ocean - The Movement
- ‘S Wonderful - Joao Gilberto
- Mornin’ - Star Slinger
- Sunshine - G. Love & Special Sauce
- Run - Jeff Cormack
- Paradise Waiting - Vacationer
- Toes - Zac Brown Band
- Set Sail - The Movement
- All I Wanna Do - Sheryl Crow
- Somewhere Over The Rainbow_What a Wonderful World - Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Playlist to Spark the Remarkable Memories
The Spark the Remarkable Memories playlist includes a collection of songs from members of the Eterneva community that spark memories of our loved ones, and help us feel connected to them.
Our hope is that these songs help people realize that they’re not alone in grief. Our entire community is here with one another, and we can celebrate that through music.
“I have playlists of songs he told me to listen to because they made him think of me. I can even hear him sing some of them to me.”
This Spark the Remarkable Memories playlist includes the following memory-inducing songs:
- The Better Life - Jon & Roy
- Another Life - Rufus Du Sol
- Long Grass - Just Jack, The Easy Access Orchestra
- In Your Hands - SIngle Version - Nick Mulvey
- See you Again - Charlie Puth WIz Khalifa
- Amazing - One Eskimo
- 6’s to 9’s - Big Wild
- The One I Love - David Gray
- (God Must Have Spent) A Little More TIme on You - NSYNC
- I’ll Wait - Strumbellas
- We Are Family - Sister Sledge
- Lightning Crashes - Live
- Angel - Shaggy, Rayvon
- Real Love Baby - Father John Misty
- Happier - Marshmello, Bastille
- Another Life - Rufus Du Sol
- Southside of Heaven - Ryan Bingham
- Memories - Maroon 5
- Firework - Katy Perry
- Home - Phillip Phillips
Playlist to Get Up and Going
The Get Up and Going playlist is a collection of songs to help you feel uplifted, find meaning and get inspired to honor a loved one.
Grief doesn’t have to be limited to the painful emotions we often associate with loss. In David Kessler’s book Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief, the author emphasizes the often unspoken stage of grief — finding meaning amongst loss.
“People often say, “I don’t know how you’re doing it.” I tell them that I’m not. I’m not deciding to wake up in the morning. I just do. Then I put one foot in front of the other because there’s nothing else to do. Whether I like it or not, my life is continuing, and I have decided to be part of it.”
So if you’re waking up and putting one foot in front of the other in order to honor and celebrate your loved one’s life, this playlist will help accompany you. The upbeat and motivating songs will help your stride.
“Music makes me emotional but also helps me get things done in our home.”
This Get Up and Going playlist includes the following upbeat and motivating songs:
- Titanium - Dave Guetta
- Keep Lookin’ Up - Kacey Musgraves
- Rush - Kali Uchis
- Sunshine – Matisyahu
- Can’t Hang – Bird River Grove
- The River – Kat Wright
- You Get What You Give – New Radicals
- We Don’t Know - Strumbellas
- Higher Love - Kygo
- Funky Sista - BOOTY
- Better Run - Reuben Keeney
- Move - Saint Motel
- Heroes - Alesso
- Stand Tall - Dirty Heads
- Nothing to Lose - The Floozies
- Stayin’ Alive - Bee Gees
- Gold on the Ceiling - The Black Keys
- One Week - Barenaked Ladies
- Float On - Modest Mouse
- Roll with the Changes - REO Speedwagon
- Lose Yourself - Eminem
- On My Way - Tiesto, Bright Sparks
- Bulletproof - La Roux
- Can’t Stop - Red Hot Chili Peppers
- For A Better Day - Avicii
- My Body - Young the Giant
- Wake Up - Blubird
- Aarti - ShiShi
- Is This Love Remix - Bob Marley & The Wailers
- Lose The Lazy - Airwolf Paradise
- Indestructible - Nattali Rize, Kumar
- Don’t Stop Me Now - Queen
Playlist to Feel Your Feels
The Feel Your Feels playlist is a collection of songs to help carry you through the emotions you are currently feeling.
Sometimes the emotions flow like a river, and other times we need a little help from music to really feel what’s under the surface. If you’re anything like me, music has the power to open the floodgates to my truest feelings, and this playlist delivers.
“I listen to music to make me feel the pain, not to make me feel better, but for me, feeling helps. I need to get it out.”
This Be in the Moment playlist includes the following songs to help you feel:
- Hold My Girl (Acoustic Version) George Ezra
- All I Want - Kodaline
- I Miss You - Blink 182
- I’m With You - Vance Joy
- We Deserve to Dream - Xavier Rudd
- Fire & Rain - Birdy
- Stairway to Heaven - Remastered
- Easy On Me - Adele
- Chelsea - Dirty Heads
- Wings - Birdy
- I won’t back down - Judith & the lion
- Gone Away - The Offspring
- The Ocean Breathes Salty - Modest Mouse
- Always Remember Us This Way - Lady Gaga
- My Old Man - Zach Brown Band
- I’ll be missing you - Diddy
- If Heaven weren’t so far away - Justin Moore
- Have I told you lately - Rod Stewart
- Dream Catch Me - Newton Faulkner
- Somewhere only we know - Keane
- Closer to You - The Wallflowers
- This Years Love - David Gray
- Violin - Amos Lee
- I Hope You Dance - Lee Ann Womack
- Better Days are Coming - Dermot Kennedy
- Human Flow - Sevdaliza
- Simple Times - Kacey Musgraves
- Easier Said - Kacey Musgraves
- Messages From Her - Sabrina Claudio
- Not All Who Wander Are Lost - Lana Del Rey
- Yosemite - Lana Del Rey
- Solitude - Billie Holiday
- All Over the world (acoustic) - Above & Beyond
- Gravity - Embrace
- Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – See You Again
- James Taylor – Fire & Rain
- Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
- Maggie Rogers – Dog Years
- Last Hope - Paramore
- Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Safe and Sound - Lils
What if music is too much?
At the end of the day, we hope you find some songs that resonate with you and help you through your journey with grief. However, it’s also totally acceptable if music is too much to handle at any given point.
As each of us go through our own journeys with grief, there will be points in time where silence is king. So, if you’re feeling engulfed in your emotions and unable to take on any more stimulus at the moment, trust that you’re honoring yourself and your remarkable loved one in a beautiful way.
And as always, know that you’re not alone. As I continue to grieve Chewbacca and others that I’ve lost in my life, my heart goes out to you and your loved ones. We will get through this one day, hour, moment, and breath at a time.