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That’s What She Said | The Best Grief & Trauma Playlist

By Kelly Wilson

My playlists get me through my worst days. Diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and anxiety, the tough days can come more frequently than I would like, especially when combined with the crap that life can throw at us. Like getting fired from a job, breaking up with someone, losing a loved one, or facing hard truths, like your marriage is falling apart. Or they can simply be the day-long series of irritations, like spilling coffee on your shirt, forgetting to brush your teeth before leaving the house, looking down and noticing that you’ve put on two different shoes, forgetting an important meeting, or burning dinner.

notebook pencil iPhone earbuds on bed

Challenging days can come in all shapes and sizes, and music has gotten me through hard times more than once, from a couple of hours to several months. When it’s long and hard (that’s what she said), these are hands-down my favorite songs to have loaded up on my Spotify playlists. These songs help me cry, yell, sing, and even chuckle, giving me joy and hope through the darkest times. Here’s the ideal layout of the best grief and trauma playlist.

Phoebe Buffet Friends giant pigeon crapping on my heart

Songs When You’re Angry

Anger is a natural part of life, especially grief and trauma. These are my favorite anger songs.

  • You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette – Best when scream-singing along while driving.
  • Funhouse by Pink – The explicit lyric is perfectly placed and beyond satisfying.
  • Bad Blood by Taylor Swift – The bass line and harmonies!
  • We are Never Getting Back Together also by T-Swift – One line: “Like, ever.”
  • Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson – This just feels good to sing. Also, replace the word “breathe” with “read,” and it becomes a pretty funny song.

Beyonce vengeance

Songs When You’re Vengeful

It’s fine to take the high road when it matters, but it does not matter while you’re alone and grieving. Take time for the grief with these songs before you have to be around people again.

  • Gives You Hell by The All-American Rejects – This song captures the ideal mix of anger and longing for revenge.
  • Best Thing I Never Had by Beyonce – Nobody is done with a man’s crap quite like Beyonce.
  • Forget You by CeeLo Green – While this clean version is fine, the explicit version of this song is far more satisfying.

Songs When It’s Time to Cry

Do you need a good cry? Here are the songs for you.

  • Girl Crush by Little Big Town – This band is basically the best at heartbreak songs. The lyrics in this one will melt you.
  • Unsteady by X Ambassadors – Whenever I’m feeling unsteady, I cue up this song.
  • Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus – If you’ve ever been wrecked by someone or made some mistakes or have been cast into the friend zone, this song is for you.
  • Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper and Sarah McLaughlin – This version is so amazing that I prefer it over the original.

adele explosion

Songs When You’re Feeling Nostalgic

  • Set Fire to the Rain by Adele – Adele is masterful at harnessing heartbreak and somehow helping you feel like everything is going to be okay.
  • Closer to Fine by Indigo Girls – This song applies to every stage in life, especially when you feel like you’re coloring outside the lines.
  • You Live, You Learn by Alanis Morissette – Some lessons are harder than others.
  • Landslide by Fleetwood Mac or Dixie Chicks – Either version is beautiful.
  • Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia – This song is a great transition into the next section, because nothing is going to bring you down.

Songs When You’re Feeling Strong

  • I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor – Best. Song. Ever.
  • I’m Still Standing by Elton John – Friend, you’re going to make it.

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