Music for our brother

One thing that my sister and I did together was to select the music to be played at out brother’s funeral. This was a really hard thing to do, but I think very beneficial. As I said in the eulogy, a really good friend of ours sang at the service during a period of reflection after the eulogies and that was very hard for her too. It was one of the most wonderful gestures made for our family.

Anyway, here are our selections. We thought it would take a while to get everyone into the chapel, so there were the following two pieces:

We wanted reasonably contemporary music, but did not want to use music that was inappropriate or shocking to the older people who would be attending. I think both of these pieces worked really well and they created the right atmosphere for mourning. (I hope that doesn’t ruin them for anyone else!)

On exit from the chapel we used one of Muz’s favourite bands, The Cure.

This such a beautiful song. Some Cure purists (like @paulhagon) will say that this is not the best version, but we used the Extended Dub Mix from Mixed Up deliberately. I think it is softer and even more beautiful than the original. The lyrics are not completely appropriate, but this is the song that will always put images of my brother in my mind.

My experience is that music is very important at funerals, especially for those people who respond emotionally to musical stimulation.

7 comments

  1. Kathryn Greenhill

    Agreed. When my mum was dying, we were all gathered around the piano one night. When my husband and uncle were singing "My Way", she quietly said that she wanted it played at her funeral. When we were planning the funeral my aunt – for reasons known to her – objected to this idea…so when we were choosing the music tracks we recorded my husband playing "My Way" on the piano. During the service, when we played the track, I could hear very quiet singing coming from the back of the chapel – my uncle singing off my mother as she wanted…For my dad, we had to find a CD of "The Most of Ray Stephens" to take "Everybody's beautiful" as a soundtrack to a slideshow of images we played – as I just wasn't up to giving a eulogy. My dad used to absent mindedly whistle the song when he was happy. We tried to find images of dad with eveyone that we knew would be at the funeral, as a way of including them in the sendoff. We also – of course – had images of my mum with dad in the slideshow…Someone remarked at the end that they were very grateful to have a chance to say goodbye to my mum again, as her death had been sudden and people were rather in shock at her funeral.You are right, the music is such a key part and I don't know about you, but I found the choice to actually be a healing activity at the start of the grieving process.

  2. restructuregirl

    I'm fascinated by the actual mood changes I can feel in myself when listening to music. My ipod has changed my life. I have an "Up" playlist and a "Mellow" playlist, for times when my mood needs lifting or conversely calming.

  3. Polyxena

    Funeral planning be it in relation to music or readings or who is doing what can be a really important healing process for those doing it. It gives one the opportunity to reflect on the person and memories of things that were important to them. And music is such an important part of this. But it can be very hard to focus on just a few pieces, particularly as different people may associate the person with different music – quite legitimately. So well done to you and your sister. It is a very hard thing to do, but cathartic.

  4. Penny

    Music is something that resonates with the human soul I think. So finding the "right" music for events like a funeral is important. I do find music played at funerals difficult to bear because I wear my heart on my sleeve and cry easily. I embarrasses me. I can usually hold it together unless someone comes up and says something kind or gives me hugs… then I dissolve. But someone said to me that seeing me cry legitimized their own tears so I'm trying to accept that it's ok. Perhaps music is the same – it gives people the space and atmosphere to express emotion that would otherwise be awkward for them to do.

  5. Kim

    The last funeral I went to the most enduring memory I have is listening to Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol) in the Chapel. When I hear it now it reminds me of Frank. I often link songs/artists/bands with particular people. I agree music is a vital part of funeral service.

  6. Mal Booth

    Thanks for all the comments. We wanted people to mourn at the service and I think music helped that to happen. We didn't want it to be emotion-free.

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