5 Songs for the 5 Stages of Grief (pt. 3): Bargaining


Grief is a harsh, awful, painful, yet ultimately normal part of life. We all experience it, we all feel it, but not everyone is able to process it and move through it. Fortunately for us, there are other people out there who feel what we feel and express it through music, which in turn helps the rest of us get through whatever we’re struggling with. So, today we’re going to look at five songs that I personally find helpful when bargaining.

Within Temptation – “What Have You Done”

A big part of the bargaining period of grief involves the phase where you focus heavily on past events, which often results in feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, or even blaming, be it yourself or others. There’s something related to that in the power of “What Have You Done,” with lyrics that state, “you have turned into my worst enemy / you carry hate that I don’t feel / it’s over now what have you done”… if that doesn’t sound like someone trying to process a heavy and hard situation, I surely don’t know what does.

The Butterfly Effect – “Start Again”

If there was a song to come out in 2022 that has been playing repeatedly in my head during my grief, it was these lines from THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT‘s song, “Start Again”: “please believe me I tried / I didn’t fail, just ran out of time / I search the depths of denial / I should have known, should have known sometimes / something has to die” shows of a struggle to accept the truth of the situation that feels all too familiar. A lot of the bargaining phase is reflecting and ruminating on past events and how things could have gone better. There’s something deeply personal in the emotion in this song that really speaks volumes.

We Came as Romans – “One More Day”

If you’re looking for songs dealing with grief, truly, look no further than metalcore. It seems like all of these kids have had troubles with drugs and suicide – the works, unfortunately – so their music is always heavily laden with sorrow and processing tragedy. In this case, we’re referring to WE CAME AS ROMANS, who lost vocalist Kyle Pavone to an accidental overdose in 2018. That gut-wrenching line that was already mentioned in our review, “I would’ve walked through your hell with you,” echoes of all the sentiments of anyone who has ever watched a friend suffering and wished they could do something to help, do something to ease their pain, to be there to carry the weight of their world. Though the song is clearly regretting the loss of someone who has passed away, the sentiment can carry through other forms of grief quite easily as well.

Linkin Park – “In the End”

If there is a particular metal genre that deals a lot with grief, its metalcore and its predecessor bands. LINKIN PARK‘s first two albums are pretty legendary for having an absolute stockpile of songs about the different phases of grief and processing them, but their first big hit was perhaps so powerful for how simply they put human frustration to music with the phrase “I tried so hard and got so far | but in the end, it doesn’t even matter…” When everything you know has fallen out from under your feet, there’s something soothing about this song that manages – without using any sort of flowery language – to just say what you’re feeling. Sometimes, despite the best of intentions and all of the effort in the world, we still fail to reach our goals and it sucks. Yet, hearing this song somehow makes that pain a little less sharp, knowing that it’s shared with so many others.

Ayreon – “Day Fourteen: Pride”

Yes, we’re back to “The Human Equation” by AYREON again, because once more, this concept album’s trip through the human mind perfectly portrays this phase in a few songs, of which “Pride” has always stood out. It occurs in a moment where the main character is questioning himself and who he is, as he has begun seeing the kind of person he has become and wondering how it could have happened. The repetition of insights into himself accompanied by “I don’t understand” and followed with who he had hoped to be and who he actually is, are very heavy and harsh, in a beautiful and emotional way. Ultimately, the song teaches that it’s okay to discover bad parts of yourself, as long as you are aware and try to do better in the future, as pride and reason come to an agreement in the character’s mind.

Written by Bear Wiseman