Songs Used in Death and Dying Education

Updated June 2013

Marilyn Smith-Stoner, RN-BC, PhD

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This list includes songs I have used to illustrate issues related to aging, dying an death. They are an important way to help health care students and workers experience the world of the patient and family in the health care system. The artists who produced these songs give us unique insight into the patient and family narrative. All of these songs have been used extensively in my teaching. The criteria I use for selecting songs are:

1. Secular

2. Diverse types of music, performers and generations

3. The entire set of songs used in a term follow a theme( such as water as a metaphor) or particular portion of the lifespan.

4. Appropriate (nonfowl) language, English.

5. Work well with other forms of aesthetic resources such as art.

6. Meaning is immediately able to be grasped by diverse students.

The experience of


Song Title and Lyric Link

Reflecting on Life

Ozzy Osborne

Life Won't Wait

The Judds



Kid Rock

All summer long


 Darius Rucker



Joe Nichols

The Shape I'm In


George Harrison

All Things Must Pass


Miranda Lambert

The House That Built Me



In my Life


Claire Lynch

Long After I am Gone


Craig Morgan

This Ain't Nothin'


Flaming Lips

Do you Realize?



If Today Were Your last Day



Seasons of Love


 Judy Collins

Secret Gardens



Song Title and Lyric Link


Brooks & Dunn

Cowgirls don't cry


Judy Collins

In my life


White lies

To lose my life


Traveling Wilburies

End of the Line


John Prine

Hello in There


Paul McCartney

When I am  64


Kris Allen

Live Like We're Dying


Eric Clapton

My Father's Eyes


Kenny Chesney

Don't Blink


John Prine

Hello In There


Neil Young

Old Man



Dream On


John Mellencamp

Don't Need this Body


Lewis Carroll

You are Old Father William


Tom Paxton

Name of Trees


Fats Walter

Old Grand Dad


Bill Withers

Grandma's Hand


Gene Autry

That Silver Haired Daddy  of Mine


Willie Nelson

Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age



From His Window


Brian Gale

I don't Look Good naked Anymore 


 Destiny’s Child

Survivor's Song


Tom Paxton

The Names of Trees



The Hospital Song



Hired Hand


John Gorka

People My Age


Gene Autry

That Silver haired Daddy of Mine


Beach Boys

Till I die


 Toby Keith

 As Good as I Once Was

Blake Shelton

The Baby


Dr. Robert

Jason Aldean

Tattoos on This Town

Illness and diagnosis


 Song and Lyric Link


Kathy Mattea

Where have you been  ?


Kathy Mattea

That is the deal


Elton John

Last Song

Martina McBride

I am Gonna Love You Through It



Fight like a girl


Tim McGraw

Live like you were dying


Rascal Flatts



Death Cab for Cutie

What Sarah Said


Save You

Simple Plan


Rascal Flats



Ben Folds Five

Hospital Song


Cold War Kids

Hospital Beds


Craig Morgan



 Anthony Phillips

Bleak House

Tim McGraw

Don’t take the girl




Just Like a Pill



Song and Lyric Link



Until it sleeps


Blood, Sweat and Tears

And when I die


Pearl Jam

The End


Frank Sinatra

I did my way


Conor Oberest

I don't Want to Die in the Hospital


Nat King Cole

Let's Face the Music


Annie Lennox

Into The West


Blue Oyster Cult

(Don't Fear) The Reaper


Willie Nelson

Gillian Welch

I'm Not Afraid to Die


Bruce Springstein

Streets of Philadelphia


Kenny Logins

This is it


 Cold War Kids

 Hospital Beds


The Used




The Art of Dying


Allen Ginsburg

Father Death Blues


Chip Taylor

Grandma's White LeBaron


Chuck Brodsky

Death Row All-Stars


Depeche Mode

Death's Door


Don Conoscenti

The Other Side


George Harrison

Art of Dying


Jacques Brel

Seasons in the Sun


Harry Nilsson

I’d Rather be Dead

Led Zepplin

Stairway to Heaven

Lady GaGa

The Edge of Glory



Song and Lyric Link

(my favorite of all time)

Joey & Rory

When I’m Gone


BB King

See that my grave is kept clean



Long Black Limousine 


Annie Lennox

Into the West


Paul Mcartney

The End of the End


Patty Griffin

Long Ride Home



How It Ends


Johnny Cash

The Long Black Veil


John Mellencamp

If I Die Sudden


The Country Dance Kings

Go Rest on That Mountain


The Clipse

The Funeral


Johnny Cash

There Ain't No Grave


Ralph Stanley

O Death


Tim McGraw

If You Are Reading This



Ships of Heaven


Blood, Sweat & Tears

And When I Die


Gillian Welch

The Wind and Rain


Paul McCartney

End of the End


Enoch Kent

Crematorium Song


John Crookston

Fall Down as the Rain


John Prine

Please Don't Bury me


kd lang



Tom Paxton

Forest Lawn


Paul Simon

The Afterlife

Louis Armstrong

St. James Infirmary

Joe Nichols

I’ll Wait for You


Far Away

Steve Wariner

Holes in the Floor of Heaven

Tom Paxton

Now that I have taken my life




Song and Lyric Link


Justin Morgan

If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away


Angela Kaset

I didn't know I was saying goodbye


Billie Holiday

I'll be seeing you


Mariah Carey

One Sweet Day


Christopher Cross

Think of Laura



In My Life


Celine Dion

My Heart Will Go On


Lucinda Williams

Fancy Funeral


Phil Vassar

Last Day of My Life



The Shape of You


Craig Morgan

This Ain't Nothin'


Green Day

Wake Me Up When September Ends


Johnny Cash

Daddy Sang Bass


Roseanne Cash

Sea of Heartbreak


Patty Griffin

Long Ride Home


Toni Braxton

Unbreak My Heart


Celine Dion

My Heart Will Go On


Elton John

Candle in the Wind


Eric Clapton

Tears in Heaven


Alan Jackson

Sissy's Song


Sarah McLaughlin



Say Anything




Last kiss



Cemetary Gates


Dolly Parton

Silver Sandals


White Lies

From the Stars


Alan Jackson

Sissy's Song


Bill Withers

Grandma's hand



Somewhere over the Rainbow


Justin Morrow

If heaven Weren't So Far Away


Son House

Death Letter


Mike and the Mechanics

The Living Years


 Hank Williams

 6 More Miles

Joe Nichols

Old Friend of Mine

Cleddus T Judd

Shade Tree Mechanic

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Brendan’s Death Song

Carrie Underwood

Just a Dream

Steve Wariner

Holes in the Floor of Heaven

Leann Rimes

How do I Live?

Josh Groban

To Where You Are

Ben Folds Five



Far Away

Miranda Lambert

Over You

Alan Jackson

Monday Morning Church




[1]Marllyn Smith-Stoner,