Sometimes Music Breaks My Heart

Back in October, I played for an event on Infant Loss Awareness Day. Today, I will play for the memorial of an infant who passed away on Valentine's Day last year.

"Play" feels like a weird word to use. I have been practicing a couple songs all week, but yesterday/last night was when I was planning the rest of the music -- the stuff I'll play in the background while people filter in. I've performed (is that the right word to use?) at many funerals before, mostly for elderly people where classic church hymns were prevalent. But I've never had to try to find the right music to commemorate/celebrate/remember the short life of a sweet, perfect baby. A baby who was full-term but never got to take her first breath.

The event isn't at a church, and church hymns aren't appropriate for this memorial. The lyrics to nearly every contemporary song I had in my back pocket

I searched "funeral" in Spotify. "Funeral Pyre" by Julien Baker and "Funeral" by Phoebe Bridgers popped up as the first results. Then, below those options were playlists people had created:
"Funeral Songs"
"Funeral Songs for Mom"
"Funeral Songs for Dad"
"Songs for Funerals (mostly just songs about death)"

People have spent many hours putting together songs to help heal their broken hearts, or to feel the hurt deeper, or to share music that reminds them of their lost loved ones. Music is powerful, but holy shit sometimes it just hurts.

In the end, I picked some tunes that I hope will honor Hope and bring comfort to her grieving mother. You can listen to the playlist here: "Hope's Memorial."

Song List

  • Wherever You Will Go - "If I could, then I would...I'd go wherever you will go."
  • Yellow - "For you I'd bleed myself dry."
  • Fix You - "Lights will guide you home."
  • Somewhere Only We Know - "I came across a fallen tree, I felt the branches of it looking at me. Is this the place we used to love? Is this the place that I've been dreaming of?"
  • Keep Breathing - "I want to believe in more than you and me. All that I know is I'm breathing; all I can do is keep breathing."
  • A Drop In The Ocean - "It's like wishing for rain as I stand in the desert, but I'm holding you closer than most, 'cause you are my heaven."
  • Gravity - Sara Bareilles - I think Hope and her mommy both loved Sara Bareilles. This is for both of them.
  • Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop - This song I went back and forth about. It's a song about a couple adults falling in love. But, the more I listened to it, the more I realized that Hope and her mother also spent time falling in love at coffee shops in Fargo. When Kayla was 8 months pregnant, the weather was bad and she didn't want to risk the drive home to spend Christmas with her family. So, she spent it in a coffee shop in Fargo. She had the a wonderful time with others in the shop that day, including the owners. Today, local coffee shops still play a large role in Kayla's life, as well as places that Kayla and Hope share.
  • How Long Will I Love You - I played this song for a wedding a couple summers ago. "How long will I love you, as long as stars are above you, and longer if I may." I never imagined I'd be playing it for a memorial, but the words couldn't be more perfect.
  • Winter Song - Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson - Requested by Kayla. "This is my winter song to you. The storm is coming soon, it rolls in from the sea."
  • Please Don't Go - Stephanie Rainey - Requested by Kayla.
  • Landslide - "And if you see my reflection in a snow covered hill, well the landslide brought me down."
  • Winter Bear - This song is specifically about losing an infant.