Choose that piece of music very carefully
For those of you landing on this page expecting to read a post about Nicki French and the UK’s doomed entry for the Y2K Eurovision Song Contest, sorry to disappoint you. Admittedly written by a closet Eurovision fan, this post’s about something even more dire.
It’s my reflections on what music to play at the funeral of a loved one.
As Jenny died at 27 and without warning, there were no instructions left for any of her funeral arrangements. There wasn’t even a will – how many people in their 20s have written a will? There certainly wasn’t a choice of music for her funeral or cremation service.
That heavy decision fell to me and her friends. But at best, our choices were educated guesses.
On the cassette player in Jen’s kitchen – the place where she had the accident that killed her – was Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell. For all we knew, the album could have been playing as she was preparing her evening meal at the time of her death. She may have been a big fan of Meatloaf, but I turned my nose up. Besides it’d be hardly suitable for her funeral considering how she died.
So, rather predictably, we went for the safe, bland, even dreary.
Despite being twins our tastes in music hardly ever matched. Of the three murky pools dipped into for tracks to play at the start of the funeral, we’d have agreed on one – the Carpenters. Of the other two: Enya always reminded me of background music from a toilet cleaner commercial; and all I can say in favour of Les Mis is, well at least it wasn’t the Sound of Music.
But it was at the cremation service where I slipped up. I’d chosen a gentle, dreamy classical piece I really liked. Sadly, the start of the third movement of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Symphony will now always remind me of the agony of Jenny’s coffin sliding along that conveyor belt.
Looking back, I’m grateful that I didn’t choose a really popular piece, which would’ve resulted in almost daily reminders. A few words of advice – in those early intense days, of course you’ll look to something meaningful, something special to the person you’ve lost. Just remember that in years to come the music will be forever infused with memories of the day. Perhaps this is exactly the type of scenario where the best choice is silence.