41 Songs About Pain, Suffering, and Hurting

Updated on November 22, 2017
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FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.

Whether you're in physical pain or feel the mental anguish of heartbreak or grief, we all suffer.  Know that you're not alone.  Make a playlist of pop, rock, and country songs about pain, suffering, and hurting.
Whether you're in physical pain or feel the mental anguish of heartbreak or grief, we all suffer. Know that you're not alone. Make a playlist of pop, rock, and country songs about pain, suffering, and hurting. | Source

Pain Is a Common Denominator

Everybody's pain level is different, but what we all have in common is human suffering. Recent advances in neuroscience have demonstrated that people experience social and emotional pain from rejection similar to physical pain. Anyone who has been through a heartache, bullying, or the loss of a loved one understands that.

Whether you're suffering heartache, the pain of chronic illness, or something else, realize that you're not alone in your pain. Make a playlist of pop, rock, and country songs about pain, suffering, and hurting. Feel better soon!

1. “Hurt” by Johnny Cash

This song was originally a Nine Inch Nails song (1995) about self-harm and addiction, but when Johnny Cash recorded it in 2002 just months before his death, he not only made it his but also it gave new depth and meaning.

Just watching the video gives me chills. The final hit of the legendary Man in Black's career was filmed in his once-thriving home and museum, The House of Cash. The museum was dedicated to his life and body of work which fell into neglect and disrepair during the latter years of Cash's life.

Surrounded by bittersweet memories, Cash exudes pain, regret, and reflection on a life fully lived like only an ailing man at the end of his life journey can. He recalls where he's been and knows there's no going back.

Only three months later, Cash lost his beloved wife of 35 years, June Carter Cash. Four months after her death, the legendary singer followed her to the other side.

2. “Love Hurts” by Nazareth

The guy in this 1974 fires shots at his lover with his raw, honest words. Their rocky love affair is painful, wounding, and scarring.

He fires verbal shots at her as he candidly discloses that every hurtful thing he's learned is her fault. Sounds like this suffering soul is carrying some heavy relationship baggage and needs to stay single for a good long time.

3. “Hurts So Good” by John Cougar Mellencamp

Love is not always soothing, yet we relentlessly chase it anyway. This classic rock song from 1982 won John Cougar Mellencamp his first Grammy. It's about a man propositioning a younger but sexually experienced woman he likes. Whether he wants merely a physical relationship or a more lasting romantic connection, he invites her to "make it hurt so good."

4. "Hurt" by Christina Aguilera

Have you ever felt regret so painfully heavy that you wished you could turn back time? In this 2006 pop song, the narrator recounts walking away from her father after he expressed how proud he was of her. Her father is now deceased, and she can only wish to hold him and reconcile. She realized too late that by blaming him she was only hurting herself. Are you holding on to a grudge that you will regret?

5. "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.

Suffering is universal, and it's merely the content that varies. This poignant 1993 rock song emphasizes that each of us experiences disappointment, deep frustration, and hurt so deep that it can be tempting to want to give up in defeat.

The narrator urges the listener to reach out to others for a helping hand:

When your day is night alone, hold on
Hold on if you feel like letting go, hold on
If you think you've had too much
Of this life, well, hang on.

6. "Life Ain't Always Beautiful" by Gary Allan

There's more emotional depth to this sad 2006 song than one might realize at first blush. The song acknowledges the intense heartbreaks and struggles that life can bring.

If you're lucky, however, personal pain ultimately brings growth: "Life ain't always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride." The singer/songwriter's wife died by suicide two years earlier. Between them, they had six children.

7. “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” by Culture Club

This 1982 reggae-influenced tune was an international hit. It made Boy George—the guy who dressed like a girl back when that was unusual—a phenomenon. In the song, the narrator addresses his lover, asking whether they really intend to cause so much emotional pain and heartache. Toxic lovers are indeed out there!

8. "Let's Hurt Tonight" by OneRepublic

This emotional ballad from 2017 highlights the pain of a relationship that is breaking down. Both partners sense that the end is near, and there is eye-rolling and wanting to call it quits. Something, however, keeps pulling them back into their bittersweet, painful relationship.

9. "Her Diamonds" by Rob Thomas

If you experience a painful, debilitating health condition or love someone who suffers from one, then Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty understands. He wrote this anguished pop tune (2009) about his wife, Marisol, who lives with an autoimmune disease. The narrator describes his partner's crushing pain and her attempts to overcome it while he looks on, unsure of how to best help her.

Famous Musicians with Chronic Health Conditions

Musician & Medical Condition
Musician & Medical Condition
Musician & Medical Condition
LeAnn Rimes, psoriasis
Elton John, epilepsy
Selena Gomez, lupus
Bret Michaels (lead singer for Poison), Type I diabetes and heart disease
Donna Fargo (country singer), multiple sclerosis
Naomi Judd (country singer), hepatitis C
Freddie Mercury, HIV/AIDS
Stevie Nicks, chronic fatigue syndrome
Art Garfunkel, psoriasis
Keith Richards, osteoarthritis
Prince, epilepsy
Glen Frye, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis
Lady Gaga, fibromyalgia
Michael Jackson, lupus
Clay Walker (country singer), multiple sclerosis
Mike McCready (Pearl Jam guitarist), Crohn's disease
Hal Ketchum (country singer), multiple sclerosis
Cher, chronic fatigue syndrome
Cyndi Lauper, psoriasis
David Crosby, hepatitis C
Nick Jonas, Type I diabetes
Seal, lupus
Lil Wayne (rapper), epilepsy
Robbin Crosby (Ratt guitarist), HIV
Steven Tyler, hepatitis C
Tom Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival guitarist), AIDS
Neil Young, epilepsy
Amy Lee (Evanescence singer), epilepsy
Toni Braxton, lupus and heart disease
Sinead O'Connor, fibromyalgia
Natalie Cole, hepatitis C
Will.i.am, tinnitus
Pink, asthma
Some of these health conditions are more serious and painful than others, but don't knock another person's experience. We all suffer. Even famous people.

10. “Pain” by Three Days Grace

This rock song from 2006 is the biggest hit of Three Days Grace's career, at least so far. It describes feeling disillusioned and being exasperated with going through life feeling numb. The narrator claims that it's better to feel pain than nothing at all.

11. "Let It Hurt" by Rascal Flatts

Has your heart ever ached so badly that the only time you get a reprieve from the pain is during sleep? If so, then this 2012 country song should strike a chord. The narrator wakes up and within seconds he recalls the hurt. As he goes through his day, he tries to fake a smile, however, this is getting him nowhere. He advocates giving in to the pain and processing it so that you can eventually come out on the other side, stronger.

12. "Broken" by Seether (featuring Amy Lee)

This amazing 2004 rock song features a troubled couple seeking to cling to one another in their individual brokenness. They've been through significant turmoil, although the worst is now over.

Each suffers their own personal demons, and the lovers feel that it's better to be broken together than apart. The narrator misses her broken kindred spirit and soulmate and yearns to be reunited.

13. "Hurts" by James Arthur

The narrator in this 2016 pop song runs into an old lover who means much more to him than he does to her, and that's obviously very painful for him. While he has specific memories of them making out when they were young lovers, she stares at him quizzically, unable to recall who he is. Ouch.

14. “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss

This 2004 country song speaks anguish like no other. A woman breaks her lover's heart, and he spends the rest of his life with his hands around a whiskey bottle trying to drink away the pain. Eventually his alcoholism got the best of him:

He put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger
And finally drank away her memory
Life is short, but this time it was bigger
Than the strength he had to get up off his knees.

The pain of his death and her role in it caused her to follow him to the grave in the same manner.

15. "Fall" by Clay Walker

Everyone should have a supportive care partner like this man. In this 2007 country song, a sympathetic lover promises to be an emotional bedrock when his sweetheart is in pain. When she's suffered a bad day, feels like falling apart, and is on the brink of losing it, he assures her that he'll be the steady force in her life who will take all the negativity away.

16. "Feel No Pain" by Sade

When everyone in your family has been laid off and cannot find work, that's pain. This 1992 rock song's protagonist knows that the suffering of long-term unemployment isn't just economic. It's emotional, too. Not being able to earn a living breaks a person's spirit, creates bitterness and resentment, and it causes a person to lose hope.

17. “Give Me Novacaine” by Green Day

Suffer from the pain of migraines? Having plagued me for years, they've sometimes been so intense and persistent that they required have required occipital nerve blocks injections into the back of my head. Other people get botox injections just to dull their migraine pain.

The guy in this 2004 has throbbing pressure inside his head, and he'll do almost anything to rid himself of it. It threatens to overwhelm him, and he needs to numb it so he can return to normal—if that's even possible.

18. "Valley of Pain" by Bonnie Raitt

"Walking through a valley of pain," the woman in this 2002 rock song hurts and cries. However, she also tries to be hopeful by reminding herself that there must be a purpose for this trial. Through hope, truth, and courage, her resilience promises to allow her to triumph through the pain. Watch her come out on the other side and flourish anyway.

19. “Physical Pain” by Joan Armatrading

Everyone should feel this guilty for lying. (Hey, I'm talking to you, politicians!)

In this 2003 pop song, the narrator has lied to a friend, and she feels so unsettled about it that she has broken down in tears. Their friendship now lays in tatters, and she is lost, alone, and feels physical pain from the separation.

20. "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter

Most famous as American Idol's elimination song, this 2005 pop ditty identifies with the pain of losing. More than that, it seems to rub it in, like sand in a fresh wound. The narrator points out that you've had a rotten day and you're falling to pieces. We can all see that you're fake smiling, and it seems like your magic has just disappeared. Stop it now! That's just too much!

Cursing reduces fear of pain and increases pain tolerance.
Cursing reduces fear of pain and increases pain tolerance. | Source

Even More Songs About Pain, Suffering, and Hurting

Song
Artist
Year Released
21. Pain
Jimmy Eat World
2004
22. Pain in My Heart
Otis Redding
1964
23. Welcome to My Life
Simple Plan
2004
24. Precious Pain
Melissa Etheridge
1990
25. King Of Pain
The Police
1983
26. Hurt Feelings
Flight of the Conchords
2009
27. The Cure for the Pain
Jon Foreman
2007
28. Pain in My Heart
The Rolling Stones
1965
29. Haven't Got Time for the Pain
Carly Simon
1974
30. Unwell
Matchbox Twenty
2003
31. Used to the Pain
Keith Urban
2006
32. Doctor My Eyes
Jackson Browne
1972
33. What Hurts the Most
Rascal Flatts
2003
34. Get Off On The Pain
Gary Allan
2010
35. My Immortal
Evanescence
2003
36. Ordinary Pain
Stevie Wonder
1992
37. Love This Pain
Lady Antebellum
2010
38. Hurts Like Heaven
Coldplay
2012
39. Hurts Like Hell
Fleurie
2016
40. Looking Out My Window Through The Pain
George Strait
2000
41. Harden My Heart
Quarterflash
1981
Do you know other songs about pain, suffering, and hurting that should be on this playlist? Make a suggestion in the Comments Section below!

© 2017 FlourishAnyway

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 11 days ago from USA

      Frank - What a nice sentiment. Thank you!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 11 days ago from Shelton

      songs that hurt so good in my book, I love when you these types of hubs

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Jo - Thank you for your kind comment. For people who live in chronic pain, there's often no other choice but to push through it and cope. There is often relief (without the strong medicines and all of their risks) but the process can be challenging and filled with setbacks. Have a wonderful weekend as we embark on the holiday season!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Genna - Those migraines are terrible, aren't they? My migraines and a lot of other health problems started when I was pregnant with my daughter, many years ago. Before that, I was very healthy or so I thought. Thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend and holiday season!

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 2 weeks ago from Tennessee

      I liked your comment about Bonnie Raitt--'watch her come out on the other side and flourish anyway'. Have a wonderful day.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA

      "You're not alone in your pain." And the music shares this so beautifully... I remember how Johnny Cash followed his wife, June, into the hereafter soon after her passing. I think "Hurt" is one of his best. I'm so sorry to learn of your migraines. I've only had them once, and that was many years ago when I was pregnant with my son and couldn't take anything for them. This list of songs is sad, but beautiful and reminds of us of how we are sometimes drawn closer together through our pain.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Larry - I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving, no frowns involved. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 weeks ago from Oklahoma

      A lot of good songs here, from Culture Club to Johnny Cash:-) or should I do a frowny face because of the subject matter, lol

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Suhail & K2 - Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Heidi - Thanks for the suggestion. I'm adding it! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of good food and time well spent with family and friends. I am thankful for you.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 weeks ago from Mississauga, ON

      OK, Flourish, I will check that article out again :-)

      Thanks and regards,

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Rasma - Thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful week. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, then Happy Thanksgiving too.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 weeks ago from Riga, Latvia

      OUCH how painful. Lots of favorites here. Thanks for sharing.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      "Love Hurts" certainly is one that came to mind as I saw the title of this post in my email messages. Glad you also put Johnny Cash's rendition of "Hurt." I think it shows how music does really transcend generations.

      But as you might guess, the 80s Culture Club tune is on my fave list. I might also add Quarterflash "I'm Gonna Harden My Heart" (or maybe that's for the "heart" songs playlist?).

      I do hope that your pre-holiday week is free of pain! :) And if I don't connect sooner, Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for all the fun and conversation this year!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Ashutosh - Suffering binds us all to one another. We do not all suffer to the same extent or of the same maladies. Some of our suffering is unseen, some very much visible, yet it's there nonetheless. Empathy can help us cope. Thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful week. I hope it is filled with light and happiness.

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image

      Ashutosh Joshi 3 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Definitely comforting to what lingers inside, as for the physical pain, it comes and goes. Shuffling through, I've got some recommendations for my playlist. Thank you for that. Cheers!!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Suhail - I've added "Cherokee" to my playlist about promises (both kept and broken): http://hubpages.com/playlists/Songs-About-Promises... Thank you for the suggestion! Hope you and K2 are doing well. Have a wonderful week!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Tamara - That's strange. Maybe the HP gods are punishing me.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Tamara - Sorry to hear about your TMJ. Glad the ice helps you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Hi, Shyron, Thanks for stopping by. I put "Honey" on the following playlist: "http://hubpages.com/playlists/Missing-You-Playlist... as #124.

    • Rhyme Vine Poetry profile image

      Tamara Yancosky Moore 3 weeks ago from Uninhabited Regions

      That’s weird, I didn’t see any advertisements to click on in this post. It’s gift-shopping time so I’ve been clicking away! I have all my ads disabled because Poetry doesn’t get quite the audience that these kind of Informative Posts do....

    • Rhyme Vine Poetry profile image

      Tamara Yancosky Moore 3 weeks ago from Uninhabited Regions

      Flourish, sometimes I get TMJ in my jaw and the joint pops in and out, but no one can tell by looking at me that it’s happening. Ice helps it a lot!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Linda - Wasn't it the perfect song to cap off such a successful career? I haven't visited his museum in Nashville but look forward to the chance to do so. Have a wonderful week ahead!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Larry - I've had that very painful condition too, but luckily it subsided. I'm sorry that your continues to plague you. The pain is raw and intense. I how you feel better soon!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Devika - Thanks for your kind comment. Have a wonderful week.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 weeks ago from Orlando, FL

      Ouch about the needle in your foot!

      I was not surprised to see Hurt by Johnny Cash as your first choice. That song is so powerful and amazing. Each time I go to Nashville I visit the Johnny Cash museum which has a video display near the exit door...it's an emotional way to exit the building.

      I like the way you add a song recap to your videos, it helps readers to understand the meaning behind the song. Brilliant!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Peg - The kicker is that he was also a psychologist. He just liked to say, "Get R Done." Very task oriented. I'm sorry about your dog. I'm sure there will be comeback eventually for that manager. He may be old and you may be long forgotten but he'll get his. We all do eventually.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Kari - I've got that movie on my list of things to watch. The video was so poignant, and it was so sad that his once thriving museum and home full of awards and memorabilia fell into such decay. I think I'd hurt too. Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week!

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 3 weeks ago from Ohio

      Great list of painful songs. That Johnny Cash video gave me chills also. Have you watched the movie, "Walk the Line"? I really enjoyed it. It seems strange to me that so many artists have autoimmune diseases.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 weeks ago from Texas

      Flourish, I missed "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro, and "I'm Alright Till I See You" by Susan Raye. My album that has this song on it is from the 1960s/early 70s.

      Some great songs on here.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 weeks ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi Flourish,

      You have listed one of my favorites - "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. It was backed by a powerful video too.

      There are many songs from hard rock and heavy metal genre on pain, suffering, hurting, especially from those blues based hard rock bands. The wailing of David Coverdale from his White Snake band songs stand out. Another band that had true pain, suffering, and hurting feeling is less known and under-rated Great White.

      The ballads of Scorpions is yet another set of examples.

      Another song along the lines, but not exactly falling in the category, that I like is 'Cherokee' by Swedish band Europe.

      Regards,

      Suhail and my dog K2

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      It's amazing, the pain we'll endure to keep a job and incredible that you were able to manage on your business trip with the pain in your foot. I worked for a manager for five years who expected me to come back to work the day I had to put my dog to sleep. In fact, he suggested that I shouldn't go at all. Ouch.

      This list really tell a story about the pain people have endured. Love the personal tag in the Bonnie Raitt song.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Songs make one feel mixed emotions or just happy ones. I like the list of songs, always going down memory lane.

    • Larry Fish profile image

      Larry W Fish 3 weeks ago from Raleigh

      When you wrote about the needle in your foot I did cringe. I can imagine how you felt. I have a condition in my face called, Trigeminal Neuralgia. Sometimes I get shots of pain that spikes to the max. Many of those songs I have heard and some can bring tears to the eyes. Great article, thanks for posting.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Dora - I appreciate you stopping by! Have a fabulous weekend!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Linda - I'm sorry to hear about your migraines and those of your sister. Mine have improved with the vegan diet, and it sure beats lots of prescriptions. Thanks for stopping by! Have a lovely weekend!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Singing away the pain is far better than drugging it away. It takes courage though. Thanks for the list.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an interesting article that is also filled with sadness. Pain is a difficult aspect of our lives. The section about migraines was especially meaningful for me. My sister's life has been seriously altered by frequent and persistent migraines. I experience migraines, too, but thankfully only occasionally. I hope yours improve, Flourish.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Bill - It's certainly a sad song precipitated by a tragic set of circumstances. You don't ever get over a suicide of someone that close, only learn how to make do. I hope you are doing well this November weekend. Wishing you a happy weekend!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Tamara - Isn't it amazing that all of these singers have often disabling and painful conditions that the rest of us do? It makes what they do seem all the more fantastic. thanks for stopping by!

    • Rhyme Vine Poetry profile image

      Tamara Yancosky Moore 3 weeks ago from Uninhabited Regions

      Ah, yes...pain. The misery that we all share in a fallen world. I will email your link to myself because I might choose some of these songs to re-write lyrics to! I used the rhythm to LOVE HURTS in two separate Song lyrics, already.

      P.S.- while I was on your site of “Naughty Gifts” for Christmas, I clicked on the stuff with the corn in it- HILARIOUS!!

      BTW, I am fascinated by these singers’ medical conditions. Great Job, as usual, Flourish!

      xxxooo

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Who knows how many songs about pain I have heard in the last six decades, but for some reason, the one by Gary Allen stuck in my head. Maybe because of his personal loss and how raw he was when he recorded it.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      Linda - Suffering is a bond we all share, and fortunately we have one another to lean on to ease the hurt. Knowing that others understand the pain, whether physical or emotional, often helps. Thank you for your lovely thoughtful comment.

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      Linda Lum 3 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, this is sad and comforting at the same time. I know, that sounds like a dichotomy, but all of us are in pain. Some physical, some emotional. And sometimes the physical effects the emotional.

      My point is that pain can make one feel so isolated. It seems that everyone else is going about with their lives, yet here I am in this place I can't climb out of.

      Sometimes it's a chronic ailment (like MS, lupus, Crohns, rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, etc.). And sometimes it's an emotional wound (which can also be chemical/physical) and sometimes it's the pain of loss.

      There is some comfort though in knowing that you are not alone. These songs speak to that. Thank you for such a heartfelt, loving article.