On 1st November most German families will pay a visit to grave yards to celebrate and acknowledge their loved ones. I am reliably informed by relatives in Germany that it’s a national holiday there, and to cite my informant, “so that everyone can remember the deceased. You literally cannot move around the grave yards due to the vast numbers
of people visiting graves. It is probably the busiest time of year for
florists and candle sellers. The grave yards glow all night from the slow
burning candles in red glasses that are left by the mourners”.
What a beautiful way to feel a sense of community with others as you remember your loved one.
Here in the UK we do so little to bring the dead into our living because it seems to me we’re frightened to even think that one day we might die or someone we love will. So we carry on pretending as if this big event won’t happen to us. I think we lose the chance to reflect on how we want our living to be if we continually reject the idea that we will die.
So here’s my contribution to the Day of the Dead. In my family we often talk about our funeral songs and how we want our death and life to be celebrated and acknowledged (it’s one of the ways that I bring an awareness of death into our living but maybe as my daughter says I’m ‘an absolute nutter…[and a ] death freak’). What music would you have at your funeral? Give me your current top three (it’s probably going to change over time), mine have. To get you started here are mine and some of my immediate family’s choices:
1. Deva Premal Om Namo Bhagavate (moving, inspiring, beautiful, spiritual)
2. Elbow Weather to Fly (my favourite band, speaks of shared times with my loved ones and celebrates a time when I truly lived fully)
3. Echo & The Bunnymen Ocean Rain (A band that I have grown up with; this song reminds me of my beloved, helps me to feel alive and moves me to tears!)
1. Let It Be The Beatles (inspiring song from my favourite ever band of all time – reminds me of growing up)
2. You’ll Never Walk Alone Gerry & The Pacemakers (the anthem of my football team, it’s moving, comforting and speaks of family & community)
3. Life’s What you Make It Talk Talk (uplifting song, has a strong message0
1. Noah & The Whale The First Days of Spring (inspiring, hopeful, sad and beautiful all at the same time)
2. Damien Rice 9 Crimes (invokes a sense of sadness)
3. Bat for Lashes Sad Eyes (I love it and I want people to cry at my funeral!).