Why I will have “Norah Jones” playing at my funeral by Monica Williams-Murphy, MD

Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 06:57

About Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy (120 Posts)

Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician, who practices in one of the largest emergency departments in the United States at Huntsville Hospital. Through her writing and speaking, she is devoted to transforming the end of life into a time of peace, closure and healing. Media Page

Buddhist tradition says that when an enlightened one dies there’s an opportunity for enlightenment for all of those present. In my personal opinion, when anyone dies, there’s an opportunity for enlightenment for those remaining.


First of all let me tell you why I actually like funerals. Funerals are the one social ritual which make me question my life choices and meaning. This doesn’t happen as intensely for me at births and weddings. I’ve never gone to visit a new born baby and asked myself, “What is the meaning and purpose of my life?” However, at every funeral, I have asked such questions.

So, I am acutely aware of the power of funerals to create introspection, self-analysis, and possibly even enlightenment! As such, I plan to use this power for the benefit of those who will one day attend my very own funeral.

My hope is that when people leave my funeral that they will vow to become their best selves, be inspired to live an authentic life, and to find new courage.

So what does this have to do with Norah Jones?

I have found that one of her songs has the same effect on me as funerals. Listen closely to the sultry tune, When the Day is Done.” It’s full of reflection that only endings can trigger:                           

“When the day is done…”

“When the bird has flown…”

“When the game’s been fought…”

“When the party’s through…”

In addition to magnifying the reflective power of endings, I feel like this smoky song somehow conveys my life message which is : Live every day as though it is your last, leave no plans unmade, leave no words unsaid, and do your best to leave no regrets behind.

So, for the sake of possible enlightenment, I’ve decided to play Norah Jones at my funeral.

What will be played at your funeral? Why?


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10 thoughts on “Why I will have “Norah Jones” playing at my funeral by Monica Williams-Murphy, MD

  1. Rea

    Lovely, enlightened piece. It speaks volumes with very few words. What makes us think deeply about life and how to live? Leave no plans unmade, leave no words unsaid (from the Murphy & Murphy book!). Add: leave no regrets behind. It’s a tall order in a short form. The right music sets the stage. –> Think about meaningful living.

    I do like this piece! very much!

  2. Rea

    It is said: when the angels wish to please God, they play Bach. When they wish to please themselves, they play Mozart. I say maybe Schubert, too. Maybe also Beethoven. Love all 4… If others listen – really listen – they will, too. That is good enough. Beginnings and middles matter. They can lead down transcendent roads. Love is the why. Love: “Ultimately, this is the only voice that matters.” [From: “Love as a Guiding Principle,” by Monica Williams-Murphy, MD, 10 June 2013]

  3. Pingback: Why I will have “Norah Jones” playing at my funeral by Monica Williams-Murphy, MD | It’s OK to Die | All Things Palliative - Article Feed

  4. Gwen Morgan

    Hello Dr. Monica,
    I feel that we are truly soul sisters! About 9 years ago, I wrote the What if … Workbook. After years as a Hospice volunteer, work with seniors, and personal experience (the death of my mother), I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great to have a fill-in-the-blank guide that leads you through the process of getting your affairs together … BEFORE a crisis happens’. The premise behind the Workbook is: WHAT IF something unexpected were to happen to you? Does anyone know about your ‘stuff’? Who to call, financial information, location of important documents, final wishes, family medical history … and much more. I do workshops and presentations around the Workbook, and what I call my ‘What if … philosophy’: get your affairs together and written down, communicate to a loved one that you have done so, and then … so important … live your life fully!, knowing that you have given your family a true Gift of Preparedness! Filling out the Workbook opens up discussion of issues that can be seen as difficult to address, including the end of life conversation which is so imperative.
    Thank you so much for all that you do … I look forward to purchasing your book.
    And my song? In addition to various hymns … ‘Spirit in the Sky’.

  5. Jeff Harbeson

    “Carry on My Wayward Son” by Kansas and full blast with an accompanied life video. I have assisted with many to provide information so that they could make educated funeral decisions…which means letting a family know it’s their choice of how to reflect the life lived. I have heard everything from Amazing Grace, Enter Sandman to The boys of Fall. Cheers!

  6. Dan

    In a perfect world, I would love to have an original composition by Hans Zimmer, in the vein of Wagner – something big, beautiful and full of energy, played as my body is pushed out to sea on a wooden raft, wreathed in flame, like the Viking burials of old.

  7. Diane M Kruk

    At my funeral I will have Whitney Houston wonderful song of “I will Always Love You” She expresses all my feelings I have for my children.

  8. William Oehlkers

    For the prelude before the memorial service: J.S. Bach’s “Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor.” This is a powerful piece of music that captures a sense of triumph, in this case triumph over death. During the service: “Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart” also by Bach. The music is beyond words, but the words in the third stanza, “Lord, let at last thine angels come, To Abrahams bosom bear me home, That I may die unfearing…and then from death awaken me.” are such a strong expression of faith.

  9. Robert Jones

    Monica’s thoughts about music came the same day my mother passed on. Some of the family wanted to have a closed (no viewing) ceremony at the national cemetery. Monica’s thoughts about music helped me realize how important it is to have an open (view available) opportunity at the funeral home.
    Certainly music by Norah Jones would be much better than instrumental organ music. There is a song I discovered weeks ago on you tube. To hear it you type in “Oliver Kelly–Purple Raindrops”, and presto,–instant funeral like thoughts. The words, “God knows you’ve changed things,” and “what am I gonna do without you”, ring home today.


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