Losing a sibling can be incredibly painful. The bond one has with their sister is often unique, and is sorely missed once it’s gone.
Many artists have tried to capture those feelings; there are songs that could help you relate to and deal with the pain that overwhelms you when you lose your sister. They can be a fitting accompaniment to honor them at their memorial service, or just a backdrop to think about them.
Here is our pick of songs about losing your sister.
1. “Sister” by Dave Matthews Band
Song year: 2010
Dave Matthews famously dedicated his first album to his older sister, Anne, after her husband murdered her in 1994. He released this acoustic ballad on the “Live In Las Vegas” album in 2010. Many fans assumed he was again talking about Anne.
He had stepped away from a party a few years later and found a place of isolation to complete this song about the bond he shares with his younger sister, Jane. The song is a tribute to the love a brother has for his sister.
2. “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” by Rod Stewart
Song year: 1993
Rod Stewart covered this famous Van Morrison song for his “Unplugged…and Seated” album in 1993. People interpret this song as a romantic message to a lover, playing it at countless weddings over the years.
While that is a good translation, many of the lyrics are to any loved one, not necessarily romantic. Taking away all sadness could very well be a line that one would say about their relationship with their sister.
3. “You Are So Beautiful to Me” by Joe Cocker
Song year: 1974
Originally recorded by Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher in the 1970s, this song was covered by Joe Cocker on his 1974 album “I Can Stand a Little Rain.” After losing someone as close as a sister, the lyrics of this song resonate deeply. With lyrics being everything that could be hoped for, it has meant enough to people to be re-recorded many times by the likes of The Beach Boys and Ray Charles.
4. “Why” by Rascal Flatts
Song year: 2010
Suicide is something that has touched the lives of a lot of people. If your sister committed suicide, the song “Why” by Rascal Flatts might have a lot of meaning for you. Having loved ones that committed suicide; they started performing this song on their “Nothing Like This” tour in 2010.
5. “There, There Katie” by Jack’s Mannequin
Song year: 2009
When Andrew McMahon was fighting Leukemia, his sister donated her bone marrow to save his life. He wrote this song to commemorate that moment and honor her. It may not be about losing a sister, but it is definitely about having a lot of love for your sister.
6. “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys
Song year: 2012
Many people look up to their sisters for the things they taught them in their lives. Or they admire how they have gone through obstacles and still managed to hold their head up high. It is a message of empowerment, about a woman that takes the world by storm.
7. “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler
Song year: 1989
This song was originally recorded by Kamahl and covered by artists like Kenny Rogers and Lou Rawls. Bette Midler's version has become one of the more popular choices for fathers and daughters to dance to at weddings.
However, the lyrics make it clear that this song can be directed at anyone who is an inspiration to you. If your sister has been the one who held you up when you needed it, then this might be the best way to commemorate that.
8. “Over You” by Miranda Lambert
Song year: 2012
Miranda Lambert was married to Blake Shelton for four years before getting divorced in 2015. During their marriage, they co-wrote this song that Lambert recorded for her “Four the Record” album.
The story behind the lyrics is that Shelton had a brother who was tragically killed in a car accident in high school. Lambert sang the song for him because he could not deal with the emotions of performing it at concerts every night.
“Over You” is a good song for remembering a sibling who has passed. It conveys the many emotions that come from that kind of loss, including anger and someone for leaving and a promise never to forget them.
9. “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas
Song year: 1978
Kerry Livgren wrote this song for the “Point of Know Return” album. “Dust in the Wind” is a study on mortality that draws inspiration from many places, including the books of Genesis and Ecclesiastes.
The lyrics of this song have brought comfort to many people after losing a loved one. The idea that death is just another part of life and a part of the cycle we all go through can be comforting.
10. “In My Life” by The Beatles
Song year: 1965
A lot of people deal with grief by diving into nostalgia. The memory of happier times in life can help dull the pain of loss. John Lennon wrote this song about memories of a road trip and seeing those places earlier in his life.
11. “If Heaven Was Needing a Hero” by Jo Dee Messina
Song year: 2010
Many people have played this song at the funeral of parents, siblings, and children who lost their lives serving their country. It is fitting for that. But the lyrics can be about losing anyone. “Heaven needed them more.”
12. “Dream On, Hayley” by James Morrison
Song year: 2008
James Morrison wrote this song for his sister who was going through a difficult time in her life. The meaning of the song is to look up and keep moving, not to look down at the bad stuff around you. If you have recently lost your sister, the lyrics of the chorus may ring differently for you.
13. “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” by Al Green
Song year: 1972
This song was originally recorded by the Bee Gees and was conceived as a song about breaking up and heartache. Some of the lyrics have meaning to people who are grieving the loss of someone close to them.
14. “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth
Song year: 2015
If you have ever been in the car and heard this song on the radio during a time when you were in grief, you may have had to pull over and dry your eyes. The lyrics recreate the feeling of loss we have all experienced perfectly. It can be about anyone that you have lost, but it resonates if it is someone that you were extremely close to, like a best friend or a sibling.
15. “Who You’d Be Today” by Kenny Chesney
Song year: 2005
This is the story of a person who died much too young. The narrator talks about how much he misses them and wonders what their life would have been like if they had survived.
It is a song that puts into words the feelings many people have when their sister passes away, especially if she dies at a young age. Who would she have married? What would her children have been like? What kind of grandmother would she have been?
16. “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw
Song year: 2004
If you had a sister that died of an illness, this song will hurt when you first hear it. But it can be comforting if the lyrics ring true with your memories of her.
McGraw sings as a man who found out that he did not have long to live. Instead of giving up, he decided to live what time he had left to the fullest and do all of the things he had been scared to do. Things like riding a bull, going skydiving, and forgiving some people.
17. “Drink a Beer” by Luke Bryan
Song year: 2013
Luke Bryan did not pen the lyrics of this song, but it struck a chord with him so much that he recorded and released it.
In the song, the narrator is going to a pier and having a drink, which was something he once did with his sibling who had recently passed. Bryan felt the need to record the song to honor the memory of both of his siblings he had lost.
18. “Tha Crossroads” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Song year: 1996
After the death of rap icon Easy-E, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony released this song that has lived on as a tribute to people who have passed away. It is meant as a promise that they will see each other again at some point. The video was nominated for the Best Rap Video at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards.
19. “Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill
Song year: 1994
Vince Gill wrote this song about country singer Keith Whitley, who had died at the age of 33. He also drew inspiration from his half-brother who had died from brain damage he suffered in a car accident. The song is to people who have died and how they can take rest knowing they did everything on Earth they were meant to. They can now go into the afterlife and rest.
This song is sung at a lot of funerals, not to bring sadness but to help the people who are mourning that their loved one has fulfilled their destiny and moved on.
20. “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.
Song year: 1993
The melody of this song is sad and filled with melancholy. However, the lyrics are meant to be uplifting and comforting. The narrator is telling you that no matter what you are going through and what kind of loss you have experienced, everyone has felt it and everyone you see knows what you are going through.
The video for this song is one of the most iconic of the 1990s. Filled with images of pained expressions while sitting in a traffic jam. The symbolism of being stuck in life because of your pain or grief was not lost on most people.
21. “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
Song year: 1969
Depending on who your sister was and what her beliefs were, she may not have wanted a sad tribute to send her off. She may have looked at death as a celebration. If that is true then something a little more upbeat with a rhythm you can dance to could be more fitting. This song brings in the images of death and heaven, but with a much more celebratory feel.
22. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones
Song year: 1980
If you must find something sad, you will not find many that fit the bill more than this one. Jones sings the story of a man who had lost his wife years before. The lyrics tell that he finally stopped loving her on the day that he died as well.
23. “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
Song year: 1971
Bill Withers recorded this song about the loss of something important in your life and how it leaves an empty feeling behind. It is especially memorable in that in there is no third verse, Withers simply repeats the words “I know” 26 times.
24. “Sissy’s Song” by Alan Jackson
Song year: 2008
Country star Alan Jackson wrote this song in memory of a woman that worked as his family’s housekeeper that passed away. But the lyrics can hit home to anyone who has lost a woman in their life that meant so much to them. It is a comfort to those left behind as the person who died is telling them that they are okay.
25. “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge
Song year: 1979
This song is not about loss. But if your sister was someone who would not want everyone to be sad, this might be the song you need to honor them in a much lighter mood. This is considered a party anthem about the bond women have with one another.
Songs About Losing Your Sister, Final Thoughts
If you have experienced the loss of a sister, there is not much that can help take that pain away. But music has a way of helping us work through feelings and process grief. Music can help us to make sense of the senseless.
When you experience grief, you will find meaning in songs that never meant anything to you before. You will hear things in the lyrics that you never listened to before your sister died. Turn on some music, sit alone and truly listen to the lyrics of the songs that come on. You will find some that will have deep meaning to you after that.
As you listen to the songs on this list, permit yourself to explore. Click on some of the suggestions you come across. Many of the songs that mean the most to us are the ones we were not looking for.