We all have to learn how to manage suffering – it’s part of our fallen nature. For this reason the saying originally penned by Ian MacLaren is adopted by many: “be kind to everyone you meet, for you don’t know what kind of battles they are facing.” Being a particularly difficult subject to understand, sometimes the greatest respite from suffering is just having someone understand what you are going through or even being able to relate to your unique experience.
Over at NPR last month on All Songs Considered, Stephen Thompson had a great article about what makes a better song: the music or the lyrics. The gist of the article was that it’s up to the listener to decide because both play an equal part in the beauty of the song (“beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – could have seen that one coming, right? it’s still a great read if you have the time). In my experience, I find that the music comprises the essence of a song, but have recently made it a personal goal to invest emotionally in the lyrical content, too. This has allowed me to find a handful of songs that have really changed my perspective on a number of topics. Music has the capacity to heal for many reasons, no doubt, but I would argue that it finds the best opportunity to do so when it builds a story that the listener can relate to. This can happen through lyrics or composition alone.
As a registered nurse, I have spent a lot of time helping people through their suffering. I have found that people manage their hardships in different ways, but a common medium for finding peace is through music. Just the other night, after having a tough night at work where I once again did not have the right words at the right time, I went home and began to compile this list of songs that I believe can be supportive for the grieving person. Whether they are mourning the death of a loved one, managing tension in a marriage, having trouble finding hope, or are sad for no identifiable reason, I hope these songs give hope to any one who is going through a tough time.
As before, these cuts are all from my own music collection, so feel free add any others that I missed in the comments section below. Hope you enjoy!