Throughout all of history, people have expressed their joys and sorrows through music. They celebrated births and marriages, praised and honored their God or gods, and mourned the death of their loved ones by putting melody and rhythm to their feelings.
With song, harmonies or the beat of drums, these mourners joined in the procession to present their dead. Some cultures cloaked their emotions beneath solemn sadness while others freely celebrated the deceased’s life, escorting their loved ones into the next life.
Music, however, is more than merely an expression of emotions. It is a healing mechanism and a way to find balance after the death. Mozart’s musical compositions, with their mathematically-pleasing sequences, actually have a measurable and profound effect on the brain. Numerous music-brain studies have shown positive changes in infants and students who are exposed to music. Researchers have found that children who start taking music lessons early seem to be able to learn better. Plus, music has been proven to boost imagination and the ability to come up with creative solutions to problems. Much of this has to do with the fact that music has a way of triggering the formation of new neurological connections in our brains. It has been discovered that the same areas of the brain that are involved in music also enable us to process language, understand what we hear, pay attention, memorize, and control our own emotions and behavior. Today, a variety of styles and types of music are being used to ease pain, promote healing and restore emotional wellness in hospitalized children, cancer patients and brain-injury victims.
Don’t underestimate the power of music to kick-start healthy grieving. Music can have a profound healing effect on grieving families who are faced with the shock of their loved one’s death, having to deal with preparing a funeral, handling the estate, and going on with their lives. Music, from baroque to folk, ethnic to Christian, patriotic to rap, can help mourners connect with the deceased on a deep level—where music comforts, inspires, soothes, brings back memories, reinforces a sense of belonging, motivates and heals. Moreover, it can help to equip immediate family and friends with the ability to find creative ways to deal with the loss.
Encourage your clients to consider integrating music into the celebration of their loved one’s life. Ask them what kinds of music their loved one most enjoyed. Also find out the styles of music that might bring the most comfort to family and friends. This way, the funeral service will truly be a time of healing.
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