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16 Heartbreaking Country Songs about Death

Country Songs About DeathCountry Songs about the Death of Family, Friends & Those Who Have Passed Away Too Soon

When we’re going through the painful experience of loss, we can often find comfort in a song that we feel honors and captures our loved ones. Finding the right one, though, can be time-consuming. After my father passed, I spent hours searching for country songs to honor his memory.

Here’s a more detailed description of sixteen of the featured songs: Five songs are selections appropriate to honor the loss of a father; two are beautiful songs for the loss of a spouse; five songs are choices for the loss of any loved one, and four are songs with lyrics for those who died too soon.

1. Brad Paisley – “He Didn’t Have to Be” –

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This song is ideal for honoring a stepdad when beautiful words expressing gratitude are needed. The song tells the story of a little boy, now grown, who a loving stepfather raised. The doting stepdad is remembered as the ‘Dad he didn’t have to be.’

2. Crystal Shawanda – “Daddy You Can Let Go Now”

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Honestly, it took me months to listen to this song after Dad passed away. It was just too hard. The words break you up. It’s not easy to listen to this song.

It tells the story of a woman growing up who, at critical moments in her life, tells her father that it’s OK to let go, like when she first learned to ride a bike when she got married, and in the end, when it’s his time to leave. She tells him at this crucial last moment, “You can let go now, Daddy.”

3. Lee Brice – “I Drive Your Truck”

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This hit song is based on a true story about a father who lost his son. When I think of this song, I think of my dad. If your father owned a truck, then you know what I mean. This song is still hard to hear. When we were sitting vigil by my dad’s bedside, my brother and I would drive back and forth from the hospital in his truck. It was one of the most beautiful and terrible memories of my life. Just my brother and me in that truck on our way back to the house, with Dad still in that hospital bed.

“I Drive Your Truck” was a hit song on the radio then, and we often heard it during those drives. I told my sister-in-law about this song and the truck, and on one visit with Dad, she drove his truck home from the hospital while my brother and I stayed. The next thing I knew, my phone was ringing, and my sister-in-law called me to say, “You won’t believe the song that’s playing on the radio.” It was, of course, “I Drive Your Truck.” I can still barely get through this song.

4. Alan Jackson – “When Daddy Let Me Drive”

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If you’re looking for a song that’s a little less sad, then this song is a good selection. It’s told by a son who tells us about all the good times he had with his dad, especially when “Daddy let me drive.” It’s a great remembrance song for fathers and sons with this kind of relationship. “He was Mario Andretti when Daddy let him drive.” It doesn’t speak directly about death. However, the implication is there in the song.

5. Tim McGraw – “Grown Men Don’t Cry”

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Listen to the second verse, where he talks about his dad, who worked so many hours and couldn’t be around much when he was little. He dreams of holding his dad’s hand at ten years old. The last verse expresses gratitude for the things he has in his life: his wife and kids. The song doesn’t focus directly on the relationship between father and son; however, it’s still about a man and his father and a boy who grew up to become a father himself.

6. Carrie Underwood – “See You Again”

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This popular song is one of my favorites for its melody, mood, and lyrics. It’s not easy to listen all the way through when you’ve lost someone close. The finality of losing someone you love is made easier when you hear the words sung so beautifully by Ms. Underwood: “Cause I know I will see you again” and “This is not where it ends.” The worst thing about facing someone’s death is precisely the thought that, as long as you live, you will never see them again; it’s too hard to think about, and this song helps with that awful thought.

7. Carrie Underwood – “Temporary Home”

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Another poignant song by Carrie Underwood. “Temporary Home” uses other life situations to draw examples of a ‘temporary home.’ The first verse tells us about a little boy tossed from home to home: his ‘temporary home.’ The second verse continues about a single mom and child living in a halfway house and how she dreams of one day having their own home as this is just their ‘temporary home.’

The last verse was too hard for me to listen to when Dad first passed. It’s about a daughter saying goodbye to her father in his hospital bed and how he waits for her to say goodbye. He says,

Don’t cry for me
this is my temporary home
it’s not where I belong
windows and rooms that I’m passing through.

Temporary Home Lyric

8. Tim McGraw – “Live Like You Were Dying”

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I’m sure you’ve heard this song by now, but if you haven’t, it carries a beautiful message. The song is from the perspective of a person who received news that he was dying. He now internalizes the meaning of life; “he was finally the husband that most of the time he wasn’t; “all of a sudden going fishin’ wasn’t such an imposition, and I went three times that year I lost my dad.” If you need to choose a song that conveys the mourning of the person who has passed on, this is a wonderfully uplifting song to play LOUDLY for everyone.

9. Diamond Rio – “One More Day”

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In this song, Diamond Rio sings about having one wish and wishing for “one more day with you.” The song is soft and flowing in mood and music. Again, it’s the words that make this song what it is. Asking for one more day would only have me wishing for one more day: “One more day, one more time, one more sunset, baby, I’d be satisfied. Keep me wishing for one more day with you.” Hard to listen to, but beautiful.

10. Faith Hill – There You’ll Be

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This song is the theme song from the movie Pearl Harbor. The lyrics are about keeping a place for that particular person with you all your life: “Everywhere I am, there you’ll be.” The song captures the gifts of love the person has given, how that person’s support made a huge difference in the singer’s life, and how strong your loved one was, their light and strength. This song is an excellent song choice for a soul who deserves to be honored for the unconditional love and guidance they give.

11. Johnny Reid – “Thank You”

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“Thank You” is a magnificent memorial song for a couple where one has passed after a long, enjoyable life together. With this song, it’s not only the words that make it but also the video. The video shows a long-married husband and wife as she’s packing up the contents of their house for a new young couple about to move in. The words to ‘Thank You’ show us the couple at different stages of their life, from their newlywed to the wife caring for her elderly husband. It’s the circle of life; it’s painful to watch but incredibly moving. Read More

12. Braid Paisley – “Waitin’ on a Woman”

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This song reminds me so much of my mom and recently-passed father. It’s likely the story of many couples: the husband waits for his wife. The lyric starts comically with Brad Paisley on a bench sending messages and texts to his wife, reminding her that he’s waiting for her. Although reflective, the song isn’t too sad; it has a bit of beauty, cuteness, and inspiration. In the video, Andy Griffith is an elderly man who asks Braid Paisley if he’s “waitin’ on a woman.” The end of the video shows the older man in heaven sitting on a bench, patiently waiting for his woman.

13. The Band Perry – “If I Die Young”

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A hauntingly gorgeous mid-tempo song. Though it won’t sound sad initially, this song will reduce you to tears. It’s sung from the perspective of the person who has passed away and with lyrics like “Lord make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother, she’ll know I’m safe with you when she stands under my colors,” the song is bound to strike a chord with heartbroken parents.

14. Miranda Lambert – “Over You”

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Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton wrote this song as a dedication to Blake’s brother, who passed away in a car accident when Blake was a teenager. This haunting song hits you in the stomach. The most beautiful part of the video is near the end, when Miranda Lambert stands in front of a gravestone, tearfully singing, “Cause you went away, how dare you. I miss you.”

15. Kenny Chesney – “Who You’d Be Today”

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The song is about wondering who your loved one would be had they not died young; would they have seen the world, chased dreams, or had a family? Like any song about someone gone too soon, it’s powerful, pretty, and sad.

(Lyrics) “..Would you see the world, would you chase your dreams, settle down with a family, I wonder what would you name your babies, it ain’t fair you died too young, like a story that had just begun… God knows how I miss you, all the hell that I’d been through …. sometimes I wonder who you’d be today.”

16. Luke Bryan – “Drink a Beer”

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A gorgeous song about a man getting a call to tell him his friend has passed away. It’s so sad, yet pretty. He decides to honor their friendship by sitting on the edge of the pier, watching the sunset, and drinking a beer where he says, so long, my friend, until we meet again. While that’s what the song feels like to me, it does carry personal meaning to Luke Bryan.

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