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The power of music at funerals

In all societies, music is collective and communal. Music brings and binds us together and although we generally think of music as entertainment, we often overlook its power to evoke emotions.

When it comes to funeral ceremonies, music plays a vital role. It is an important part of celebrating the life of a lost loved one. Music is embedded in our souls and can stir up long-forgotten memories that can only be brought to the surface with music. Playing cherished songs enjoyed together can rewind the clock for a memory of happy times shared together. Such trigger songs are healing music that instantly connects us to memories of times, places and people connected with a loved one. Healing music helps bereaved ones go through the grieving process. It touches the soul in a manner that is comforting and almost unexplainable. The sounds of music give everyone a medium that all can share and relate to at funeral ceremonies. The power of music enhances the experience of funeral ceremonies in a positive and appropriate way.

Funeral planning and funeral music go hand in hand. Simply put, all funeral ceremonies should use music to both pay tribute to a lost loved one and create an atmosphere where healing can begin for survivors. Funeral planning entails using funeral music at many times during a funeral service. Like everything else in the funeral planning process, it’s important to take your time and select appropriate music. Funeral music can be played before, during and after the ceremony. It’s really up to those planning the service to decide when music should be played. Just keep in mind that the funeral music you choose will create a mood for both yourself and attendees.

There is no one-size-fits-all when choosing funeral music. For those who prefer to stick with tradition and a solemn funeral experience, popular hymns like “Amazing Grace”, “Ave Maria” and “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” are both powerful and rousing. These types of songs allow people who are at a loss for words to express heartfelt feelings. They unveil a dimension of feeling and meaning that words cannot do. Even though these hymns are Christian, they evoke feelings regardless of race or culture.

If you’re not particularly religious, choosing classical and popular songs may be a better fit. This type of funeral music is ideal for playing during times of intercession and moments of silence. Here’s a list of some popular songs that are both soothing and reflective:

“My Heart Will Go On”- Celine Dion
“Hero”- Mariah Carey
“Tears In Heaven”- Eric Clapton
“Always On My Mind”- Elvis Presley
“The Rose”- Bette Midler
“Candle In The Wind”- Elton John
“Imagine”- John Lennon
“What A Wonderful World”- Louis Armstrong
“Yesterday”- The Beatles
“Stairway To Heaven”- Led Zeppelin

Playing a loved one’s favourite songs at a funeral service is also an option that helps capture the essence of a loved one while leaving a legacy. For example, if your loved one was a huge fan of the Beatles or Beach Boys, playing tunes like “Surfer Girl” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand” will make you feel like your loved one is right there with you enjoying the music. Keep in mind that it is completely appropriate today to play upbeat music at a funeral service. As a matter of fact, many people today are embracing a funeral service with a whole new paradigm. In celebrating the life of a loved one, playing vibrant music at a funeral service is a good match for a true celebration of life.

All in all, the funeral music that you choose as a tribute to your loved one is truly a personal choice. It’s entirely up to you to choose the music that you see most fitting to celebrate the life of a loved one.

All Alex Gow chapels are equipped with professional audiovisual systems and our staff can certainly assist you to both select and play the music of your choice. You are also most welcome to have live music performed during the service, it is just a matter of selecting the singers or musicians that you are comfortable with.

Authors Jeff Staab & Mark Skinner


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