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Best Songs Dealing with Death and Remembrance

Losing a friend or loved one is something that you never want to have to experience, but unfortunately, we all must face it at some point in our lives. It's a difficult time when everything that made sense in the world seems to disappear. Routines are shaken.

A great book I read once said that losing someone doesn't happen all at once. Instead, you lose a person over years. When you get engaged and they're not there for you to call them. When it rains and you think of how they always stood at the bus stop with no umbrella. When their favorite sports team finally makes it into the playoffs and you aren't able to admit, maybe their favorite team isn't a lost cause.

Music, and R&B music in particular, is about emotion and feeling. As you work through the death and remembrance of someone important to you, you might find different songs help at different times. We tried to build a list of the best R&B songs that deal with this struggle and the emotions you might face.

Reading comments on YouTube videos for these songs, it is amazing to see all the ways they connect with people. Someone happened to hear one of the songs playing as they left the cemetery after a funeral. Another one had the song played at their son's funeral. It can be hard losing a loved one, and if this list helps even a single person find some consolation during their grief, it will have been worth putting together.

The list starts off with a track that flipped remembrance songs on its head. Janet Jackson wrote Together Again after she found out her friend had died of AIDS. It was originally planned as a ballad but was rearranged to be an uptempo track. It provides a different take on things, harking on the importance of remembering the good times with the ones we lost.
Ginuwine faced a tough time in 1999 and 2000. First losing his father to suicide, and then only a year later, his mother to cancer. It was a difficult time in Ginuwine's life as he dealt with his own grief. Fortunately, his pastor was able to help him work through the emotional struggle and come out on the other end. This song was written in remembrance of his parents.
On June 17, 1991, Kandi lost her brother Patrick Riley in a car crash in Mexico. She was 15 at the time and he was 22. She was right at the start of an incredible career and felt the difficulty of losing someone so close and loved. She said that she thinks if he was still alive, Xscape might not have broken up when they did as he was always so helpful in mediating and helping work through her problems.
Luther Vandross wrote Dance With My Father with Richard Marx in memory of his own father. The song recounted Luther's memories of his father who had died from diabetes when the singer was just 7 years old. The record became even more tragic as it was released in 2003 while Luther Vandross was in the hospital with a stroke. He passed away in 2005, and the song remains his last top 40 hit.
Ginuwine wrote Miss You in 1998 (just a year before his own parents would die). He had originally intended to use the song himself and had even recorded a copy of it, but when Aaliyah heard it, she wanted to use it. Her record label wouldn't let her release the track, thinking it wasn't marketable enough. After her death, it was finally released.
Jamie Foxx was raised by his grandparents and had an incredibly close relationship with his grandmother. She was living with him during his time working on In Living Color. When she died right as Jamie Foxx was on the brink of becoming a mega star, it felt like she had never gotten the chance to see what he would become. The track was recorded for her.
This track from Tony Rich's Encaustic album has such vivid descriptions in it, alongside such a slow, soothing beat. It's powerful to listen to and just grabs at your heart. It's such a sad song to deal with.
I Miss You from Aaron Hall has such an iconic, tragic video. Dealing with a woman who dies in child birth, it's a powerful video to accompany a loving song. There are stories online that Aaron Hall had a son die in child birth around the time of the song's release but it's unclear if that is true or not.
A beautiful song by an underrated group. The music video features the guys going through a grandmother's home as it is packed up and the belongings are being moved out. As they move through, they have visions of memories with her in their lives. It's a powerful moment, and reflects on a struggle that often comes with dealing with death,
Never Forget You was a beautiful track that often gets overlooked because it was released as a double single with the mega hit Without You. Mariah Carey's voice is so powerful and emotional, she is able to capture the struggle and pain so well.
Mariah Carey lost a close friend, David Cole in 1995 due to AIDS. She wanted a song that she felt could be sung as a eulogy to him and the many others who died from the disease and wrote this song. Interestingly, when she pitched the song to Boyz II Men, they were taken aback. Nathan Morris of the group had been working on a song for their stage manager who had passed away and had a very similar set of lyrics. They worked together to build the final, powerful track.
Mariah Carey wasn't close to her father, Alfred Roy, for much of her life. However, in 2002, Alfred was diagnosed with cancer and died. During that time, they had reconnected and shared moments together in the hospital. The song is built around those connections and it captures that personal feeling.
From the soundtrack to the movie Set It Off. I'm not familiar with the movie, but the song is powerful. It features Brandy, Tamia, Gladys Knight and Chaka Khan and is a heartfelt record about loss of a loved one.
From the soundtrack to the movie Set It Off. I'm not familiar with the movie, but the song is powerful. It features Brandy, Tamia, Gladys Knight and Chaka Khan and is a heartfelt record about loss of a loved one.
In 1997, Marques Houston's mother died of Lymphoma. The track was dedicated to her and is an emotional record from the group.
The track may be dedicated to Craig David's grandmother who might have died around the time of its release. It's unclear. However, it's a beautiful song to a grandparent that you can connect with, although it's difficult to hear.
Michael Jackson was such a loving man, and this track embodied so much of the philanthropy and important causes he fought for. His friend, Ryan White, was a hemophiliac who contracted AIDS at 13 and passed away at 18. Michael Jackson made a powerful case, remembering his friend, to then President Bill Clinton, hoping that we could fight AIDS.
Similar to Luther Vandross's track Can Heaven Wait, it's a heartfelt song about a partner being hospitalized. The struggle and pain of watching your loved one slip away from you is a difficult tragedy that this song does well to represent.
A gut wrenching song about loss. It's an effective track by an underrated group.
So Alone was a beautiful track by Men At Large that unfortunately took on more meaning and weight as time passed. When it was written, Dave Tolliver's mom had recently died, Jason Champion's dad had died, and Gerald LeVert had lost his grandfather. Years later, Dave would sing the song at Gerald LeVert's funeral.
Probably the oldest track on the list as it was from 1988 but a poignant one that sends a fond farewell to a friend that has passed. It's a good track to remember a friend by.
This track was originally written for the movie Cooley High. Boyz II Men then recorded a rendition of it and named their album Cooleyhighharmony, so it's rooted at an incredible point in starting the group's career. It's such a potent song with so much beauty in it.