Singing at Funerals and the Emotional Challenge – Toronto Funeral Wedding Singer

Out of all of the services that I am asked to perform at, funerals and memorials have to be one of the most difficult ceremonies. Although it is always a privilege to be asked to perform at such an important event  in one’s life such as a wedding, there is something special when an entire family asks that you perform music for the ceremony of their deceased loved ones for what is undoubtedly going to be an emotional service.

One of the most difficult parts of the service for me is when the family eulogizes about the family member. It is always emotionally difficult for me to hear about the loss of their loved one. Further, listening to family members reminisce about the life of their family member strangely creates a connection for me, one that is emotional. Listening to family members speak their words of remembrance at funeral services really reminds me that despite our cultural differences, there is still so many similarities amongst us all

I remember from a young age, I would become very emotional as a choirboy when singing at funerals. I’ll never forget when I was in grade 4 at St. Michael’s Choir School, there was a schoolmate who was a year older  whose mother was battling cancer. Unfortunately she succumb to her illness and the school was asked to sing at her funeral service. Although I had never met my schoolmate’s mother, I remember being very emotional and even crying during the homily. Some of my classmates were looking at me wondering what the heck was going on, but for me, the thought of our friend losing his mother had me feeling so sad for him. Over the years I’ve come to realize that this is who I am, someone who shares in other people’s sorrow, whether I know you well or may have just met you.

At a recent funeral service that I was asked to sing, it was very emotional when a young boy, age 15, gave the eulogy about his mother and how devastated he was to learn she had cancer. For me, this was a story that was all too familiar for me as I lost my father to cancer when I was a very young. To a certain extent, I saw this young boy in me and was able to relate to what he experienced as well as the sorrow he felt.

Despite being moved emotionally, I have always been able to not let this affect my singing. Many times, I have looked into the congregation, or even the first row where the majority of the immediate family members sit, and will see tears in their eyes as I am singing a song that may have special meaning to them. Although you would think that this would impact my voice, it seems that performing is when I am least susceptible to the high level of emotion in the room. I even think back to my own father’s funeral and how I was able to sing a number of songs without breaking into tears. For me, singing is an outlet and whether I am performing at a funeral for a family I have just met or for my immediate family members, singing seems to be when I am emotionally at my strongest.

In the end, I have to remember that I am there for the family and to provide them the very important service of enhancing the day and ceremony of their loved one through music. Being emotional to me is normal and is what makes me human. I also feel very blessed that my gift of singing does not become compromised during emotionally difficult times. Whether it be a memorial or a funeral service, I will always view it as an absolute honour to be asked to lend my voice to help a family during a difficult time.

 

Some of the most requested songs I have been asked to perform at funerals or memorials are:

Schubert’s Ave Maria

How Great Thou Art

Amazing Grace

Be Not Afraid

Here I am Lord

Panis Angelicus

Yahweh I know you are near

O Danny Boy

The Lord is my Sheppard

The Prayer

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