Go-To Grief Songs for Teens

This month we asked our Youth Advisory Board–made up of pre-teens and teens who have experienced the death of a family member and who attend our camp programs–to share with us the song they listen to most when missing their person who died. We love the variety of their responses, which reflects how each of us grieves in our own ways. Check out their selections, and if the musical spirit moves you, let us know who you listen to when you’re grieving.

“Blame On Me” by Layton Green: I listen to this song because it is made up of the traumatic life moments that Layton had growing up from when she was young to present time. Layton and I share a common story, and just listening to it makes me feel that I’m not alone. It also shows the improvement in the life choices she has chosen in each circumstance.

 —Janiyah, age 16

When I am hit with grief and missing my brother, I listen to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” mixed with “What a Wonderful World.” We used to listen to this when we were younger, and I always think about that when I hear it. I think about all the things we did together, and it’s almost as if the song is playing in the background of my memories.

 –Grayson, age 14


Top row from left: Avner, Ann, Bobbie. Bottom row from left: Fox, Gabi, George


When I’m grieving or just feel sad, I like to listen to “Smooth Operator” by Sade because my brother and I used to listen to it falling asleep.

 –Ann, age 12

“Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day helps me think about my person who died. It was one of the songs that was on his funeral playlist. It’s a great song that talks about how death is unpredictable but you hope that the person who died had a great life while they were alive.

 –Olivia, age 15


Top row from left: Kristiana, Lola, Noah. Bottom row from left: Olivia, Quinn, Ollie


I love “Casin” by glue70 for the feeling of nostalgia it gives me, reminding me of what once was, and what and who I’ve lost (and gained) along the way. It takes a special song to remind you of the past, both positive and melancholy.

 –Fox, age 16

When my dad passed away, my siblings and I made a playlist called “Papi,” with all his favorite songs. It has a mix of songs varying from Hamilton, Queen and The Beatles. When I play it, I feel more determined to train harder in the gym or on the soccer field, always thinking of him. Each song is linked to a distinct memory with him. I vividly remember driving out into the middle of nowhere for a soccer game, and jamming out to all his old hits as my pump-up playlist. Before one game he introduced me to “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. He would then go on a long, but appreciated, speech about the significance of the song in the movie “Rocky.” 

–Gabi, age 15



Top row from left: Janiyah, Greyson, Jaylen. Bottom row from left: Josh, Kennedy, Joy


When I am hit with a wave of grief, I listen to the bands Mumford and Sons, and O.A.R. These were my father’s favorite bands and now have become mine. We once drove from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, and listened to O.A.R the whole entire time. It was a lot of fun and brings back all the fun memories with my dad.

  –George, age 12

A song that I used to listen to whenever I was overcome by a wave of grief/anxiety is “Baby Yoga Baby Baby Yoda” from the Disney+ show “The Mandolorian.” I thought it was the funniest thing ever and played it for my dad one day, never expecting it to be brought up again. Later that week in a time of peak stress I started having a panic attack. After some deep breaths to help calm me down, my dad started to sing the song–and I was so caught off guard that I was overcome with giggles. Now we sing that song every time I get super anxious. 

–Tina, age 16


Top row from left: Virginia, Tina. Bottom row: Yehuda


 “Picture Me Better” by Weyes Blood: the lyrics are structured almost as a letter to someone, and the backing music is soft and raw. The line “Since you’ve been gone, I’ve grown so much” is especially poignant for me. The way Weyes Blood sings the lyric is not spiteful or mourning, but earnest. Knowing that I can grow despite my loss has been the hardest yet most rewarding part of my grief journey, as is knowing the loved ones I have lost would see that too.

 –Quinn, age 16

Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” reminds me of my grandmother when she was cleaning up the house. She loves old 80s and 90s R&B music and Whitney Houston was on top of her list! The chorus is how I feel towards those I love and specifically my grandmother. Also, the beginning part of the first verse of the song resonates with me a lot: “Bittersweet memories/That is all I’m taking with me/So goodbye, please don’t cry. ” 

–Jaylen, age 12

Our Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is made up of pre-teens and teens who attended Experience Camps and care deeply about helping the public understand how to better support grieving children. We give our YAB a mission each month, in which they share insights about grief and reflections from their own journey. We also use their insights and ideas to inform our programming, initiatives, and campaigns.