Music As Therapy In The Survive Stage
Music As Therapy In The Survive Stage
man listening to a record in an office


In the days and weeks immediately following the loss of a loved one, our world is turned upside down and we find ourselves hanging on as we digest the events that have changed our lives forever. Faced with sometimes overwhelming emotional challenges, the Survive stage marks our deepest stage of grief immediately following a loss event.

I cannot overstate the importance of music to me at this time in my journey, immediately following the death of my wife Victoria in 2016. As I listened to music and grieved with songs, I found that they comforted my heart, soothed my soul, and inspired strength. For me, songs of worship were critical in the dark of night, alone in my bed and grieving. Some were familiar songs that suddenly had a meaning much more pointed and powerful in this new context. Some were new songs that fit my situation in ways that felt like they were written for me and for this moment. And others were favorites I had shared with my wife that were reminders of happier days together.

I developed playlists that were intended to serve a specific purpose, and I found myself at times needing to listen to a specific song. I wore out several worship songs with which I felt a deep connection and listened to pop, rock, and country music that I had enjoyed in happier moments. Songs that were directly connected to memories were connective and cathartic, although early in the survival experience, they were frequently too emotional to listen to for long. It was important to be intentional about my choices. Music was a constant companion, essential to my grieving process.

Different emotional periods called for different playlists and sometimes a very specific song. If you’re going through the grieving journey, you may find that musical “categories” are less about genre or style and more about how you remember and respond to a specific piece. In the blogs that follow in this series, I’ll share specific example that were important to me and how they touched me in the following categories specifically related to the healing process on the grief journey:

  • Meditative & Restorative- Deeply connective and relaxing songs that provide a break from the hectic events following loss.
  • Comforting- When struggling with pain and sorrow, these songs provide encouragement and connect us to the spirit of hope that we can overcome powerful emotions we are experiencing.
  • Inspirational- On days we need a boost of energy and a reminder that God is walking with us, these songs lift us up and help propel us forward.

We invite you to listen, review and comment on specific examples of songs listed in the blog series that follows. We encourage you to comment, list your own favorites and share the joy of music and how it has lifted you during the times you needed it the most!