The loss of a loved one and the subsequent funeral planning is one of the most heart wrenching time of one’s life. You are reeling from the pain, shock, and heartbreaking reality of their loss, and you are now in charge of creating the perfect tribute within a budget. When in a funeral director’s office, being emotionally manipulated and subjected to sales tactics you will be hit with ‘the this one is nice, but doesn’t your loved one deserve to be shrouded in luxury for their final resting place…” This is the time when someone should be sitting next to you reminding you this vessel is empty, and your late loved one would probably haunt you if you put yourself in financial straits to wrap them in gold woven robes, and went with the top of the line casket with solid gold accents.
While you want the best for your loved one, something as simple as profound music choices with meaning is a cost free choice to add to the value of their service. The best way to decide what music to choose is imagine if they were sitting there giving suggestions, what would they choose?
For my late husband, we chose Pink Floyd’s "Wish You Were Here", Rob Thomas' "Little Wonders", The Beatles' "Let It Be", Coldplay's "The Scientist", Coldplay's "Fix You", Plain White Ts' "1,2,3,4" (kids choice) and to add laughter and a tear soaked smile, Jack Johnson's "Upside Down", as it was the song he would goofily dance in the living room with the kids to. Each song was significant to the kids' and my relationship with him, and they expressed who he was in life. It was like our final ‘mixtape’ for him; for those of you who get the 90s reference. From that moment on, every time we hear any of those songs, we will instantaneously be taken back to a memory of him.
The selection of music should be personal, attached to a memory, or somehow conveying a message to the mourning loved ones. Everyone instantly goes with "I Can Only Imagine" which is a beautiful song, but it isn’t always going to be one that fits the person being remembered. His family asked we play it, and they eventually loved the ones we ended up choosing because they genuinely were his music. From the numbness of sitting there discussing plans to the seeing them for the last time is a starkly different state of mind. This is your last memory of their life. Make it count.
He died suddenly, we had young children, we basically grew up with each other. He called me one day while we were dating and told me to listen to "Yellow" by Coldplay. He said it was what he would sing to me, and Viva la Vida was his go to CD, so having two songs by them worked. The last few days of his life, he called me again and asked me to listen to "Yesterday" by the Beatles. I didn’t choose those songs, because this was about letting go, not holding on. I chose the same artists, but with a message of acceptance, final goodbyes and eternal love.
The music is important, and probably the most important choice one can make for a service. It is bigger than the casket, bigger than the burial plot, bigger than the flowers. It will stick with everyone who loves them for the rest of their days.
Don’t get caught up in the rigamarole or the sales pitches. Don’t spend beaucoup on the material aspects, to put on a big show. They are gone. Choose words, music, and little personal things to say goodbye. The service is for you, those who loved them and to start to let go. The service is a final farewell, with a soundtrack. What you choose will play at graduations, accomplishments, over a P.A. when you are on a first date after you decide to date again. It will play when your kid is at her first job, at their incredible opportunity, or as they are receiving an award. It will come on and you will feel like they are looking down and giving you a thumbs-up. It will come on and you will know they are proud of you. It will come on and you will know they still love you.
If you need some inspiration, here is a link to the top 200 funeral songs of all-time, but don’t forget who you are saying goodbye to.
For Robert Ryan Vance, Sr.
12/27/71 - 1/6/2014
About the Creator
Virtuosity Agency is a Cleveland based booking, digital branding and event planning business with a penchant for pontification and a love for music (especially historical facts).