By: Tiffany Laur, Executive Director, MA, MT-BC
Many people, especially teens, are extremely emotionally connected to
their music. Certain songs can elicit overwhelming emotions and evoke
special memories in an instant. Every person experiences music
differently. Some are drawn to the lyrics of the song while others are more
drawn to a melody or the complexity of the music. Some are simply
drawn to specific song because of the emotion evoked by hearing it.
I remember hearing "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds Five play on my car
stereo on September 11, 2001. Every time I hear that song, it takes me
back to the overwhelming emotional experience of the events that occurred that
tragic day, and I often find myself in tears thinking about how "lucky" I am that loved ones were safe and secure that day.
Hearing a song that makes us think of our deceased loved ones can unexpectedly make our hearts stop as emotions flood taking us back to a significant moment in time. During our support group session at HHP, teens and adults are invited to bring songs that remind them of their deceased loved ones and share them with their group. In our support groups, we process these songs, and many in the group usually find they can relate to each other's songs in some way. It can be a powerful bonding experience.
For the individual, the selection of the songs facilitates a sense of connectedness to his/her deceased loved one. This connection assists in the healing process since grief is a lifelong journey. It can also be an empowering tool for the griever.
We often say that though the grief is painful, it is a necessary experience. Using music in grief gives the bereaved a sense of control over when some of the intense emotions are experienced. Many have used their drive home from work in the car to listen to these song and "get the grief out." Taking some time to grieve every day helps a person avoid it sneaking out on them at an inappropriate time.
Just a few of the songs people have chosen include:
Each time I hear any one of these songs, I think of that teen or adult
and his/her story of loss. When I've worked with people individually, I encourage them put together a playlist for their deceased loved one. Take a moment to identify a song or songs that makes you think of your deceased loved ones. It can be a song that the person loved, a song that perhaps was played at his/her funeral or memorial service, a song that describes his/her life, perhaps there is something in the lyrics that makes you think of your relationship with that person or simply a song that brings you comfort. Listen to the songs to remember them and honor those special lives.
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