Stages of Grief in song

There’s a quotation that basically says there are only two kinds of songs: love songs and pirate songs. (I tried to find the original source of this, but the internet doesn’t seem to agree on one.) And it’s certainly true that there’s a vast amount of music out there dealing with love, and everything to do with love — from being in love to falling out of love and everything in between.

In fact, it occurred to me that one could pretty easily represent the entire arc of emotions involved through various songs. I decided I’d see if I could tackle just one part of that arc: the grief involved in the end of a relationship, as portrayed by the K├╝bler-Ross model, or the Five Stages of Grief. (I like a lot of pretty depressing music.)

1. DENIAL

We can still be together.

“My song is love–my song is love unknown. And I’m on fire for you, clearly. You don’t have to be alone.”

I’ll wait for you.

“For you I’d wait till kingdom come, until my days, my days are done. And say you’ll come and set me free–just say you’ll wait, you’ll wait for me.”

I need you — don’t you need me?

“I want to have you, cuz you’re all I got; don’t want to lose you, cuz it means a lot… Look at me where I stand, can’t you see my heart burning in my hand? Do you want me, do you not?”

2. BARGAINING

I’ll be whatever you need me to be if you’ll stay.

“I am no prince, I am no saint, and if that’s what you believe you need–you’re wrong; you don’t need much. You need someone to fall back on. And I’ll be that, I’ll take your side.”

Isn’t there any possibility of making this work?

“Is there a chance, a fragment of light at the end of the tunnel, a reason to fight?”

3. ANGER

Fine. Then just leave. Get out of here.

“You said what you had to–now leave. Leave.”

Passive aggressiveness.

“I’m not even angry. I’m being so sincere right now. Even though you broke my heart and killed me.”

You’re dead to me.

“If you see me walking down the street, I won’t even recognize you. I’ll just erase you from my memory. Put it all behind me.”

4. DEPRESSION

You broke my heart.

“I cannot wake up in the morning without you on my mind. So you’re gone and I’m haunted, and I bet you are just fine. Did I make it that easy to walk right in and out of my life?”

Is there any hope?

“The tears come streaming down your face when you lose something you can’t replace, when you love someone but it goes to waste. Could it be worse?”

5. ACCEPTANCE

Well… no point fighting it. It was good while it lasted. Maybe I’m stronger because of it.

“And just to clear the air, I ask forgiveness for all the things you blame me for… And who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? I do believe I have been changed for the better. But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

And finally, the transition to nostalgia.

“I think of you, whenever life gets me down.”

—–

Obviously, there are infinite variations of a playlist like this; these are just some of my favourites, and the songs I know and wanted to share. I’d love to hear yours.

Music , , ,

1 comment


  1. Laura

    Unable to make any comments, just feel it.

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