I don’t think we talk about music nearly enough at What’s Your Grief. You know I don’t even think we have a good excuse, it seems we just take the healing power of music for granted. I know I do.
I lived in a very musical house growing up. My father was a professional opera singer until he retired to spend his days writing children’s operas and rolling around on the floor with his grandchildren. My mother, who played the piano and the guitar, could often be found accompanying my father, directing the church choir, or playing through music books with one of her six children looking for the perfect audition song for the high school musical. Everyone in my family sang – at church, in school, and at every wedding, funeral or family party imaginable. I assumed this was what every family did; just as I assumed it was totally normal to miss school in order to perform the role of angry alveoli in your father’s production of The Night Harry Stopped Smoking. No???
It wasn’t until I was older when I realized that, while we were anything but normal, we were the same in the sense that everyone has their own unique relationship with music. As I became more aware of true pain and suffering I began to understand how ingrained music is in personal coping, familial coping, and the coping of our human race as a whole.
It is scientific fact that music has the capacity to heal with studies showing it can reduce the intensity of pain, motivate, increase endurance, improve sleep, reduce eating, enhance blood vessel function, reduce stress, induce meditative states, relieve symptoms of depression, raise spirits and enhance mood, improve cognitive performance, help people perform better under stress, reduce anxiety, relax, and the list goes on. Although fields like music therapy are relatively new, people have been using music since forever for all the above mentioned purposes. And because no one illustrates this fact better (or more sensationally) than Hollywood, here are a few movie examples.
Roll, Jordan Roll in 12 Years a Slave
Nearer My God to Thee in The Titanic
Bye, Bye Baby in Love Actually
Most grievers, whether they know it or not, have a grief playlist; but because grief is a quiet and personal struggle, our songs are different. The tracks we choose are influenced by our own personal music taste, the music tastes of those we’ve lost, our relationship with the deceased, and the meaning we make of the loss. You may even have several volumes because sometimes you want to listen to songs that make you feel sad, sometimes you want to listen to songs that make you feel hopeful, and oh my goodness there are so many songs to choose from.
A few weeks back we asked our readers to tell us which songs resonate with them in their grief and they gave us some great suggestions. We’ve compiled these along with a few more to make up the playlist, 64 Songs About Grief and Loss: Volume 1. It’s a first volume because we’re hoping to create Volume 2 from the suggestions you give us here in the comment section or on Facebook.
Leave us a comment with your song suggestions and don’t forget to subscribe to receive future posts straight to your e-mail inbox.