Therapeutic Sound from the end of life to the funeral and beyond…

Therapeutic Sound from the end of life to the funeral and beyond…

The use of therapeutic sound at the end of life, during the vigil period and as part of the funeral ceremony is an ancient practice that I am honoured to be able to offer to the dying and those who are grieving.

As with all energy work, intention is key and working with sound to support the dying and bereaved needs to be approached with great care. It is a complex and sensitive topic and so in this introductory piece, I simply give some outline detail and examples. Please remember that all our interactions must be with the permission of the dying person and or their next of kin. We are here in service and support and need to leave our own needs and ego at the door…

Therapeutic sound in the dying room requires great sensitivity and a ‘tuning in’ to the energy of the person who is transitioning. This is a time to remember the value of silence interspersed with the instrumental sound work and an ability to totally connect in order to meet the needs of the dying person on their journey and not to have any agenda as to what we might think would be needed. Often a Himalayan Singing Bowl or your own voice is the gentle instrument that is best suited for this work but never assume that this is what is needed; if in doubt, a companionable silence with perhaps a little interjection of very gentle bowl sounding or the sound of your voice but always watch for the response and use this as a guide. 

If you have the opportunity to discuss any sound work at an early stage with the person who is dying, to offer a chance to share the sounds to see what resonates, please do so. If you have had the chance to get to know them ahead of time, you might find there is particular music that they love and would prefer to have that to accompany them. It is their journey and so any sound work might be more appropriate in the vigil stage or funeral ceremony. 

Therapeutic sound whilst vigiling after death may be in person or conducted remotely and at the request of the family or as part of pre planning with the agreement of the dying person. A focus on the transition of the soul, of the release of the light body is often used here. A different offering may be created for the bereaved family and friends who may wish to be passive recipients or otherwise participants in the playing of any sound instruments or voice work. I have supported groups of friends to play the bowls around the bedside of their friend shortly after she died. They had no experience of playing but all felt the power of the unspoken connection. At the request of the family organising the funeral, even in a funeral home, it is possible to offer a vigil in their chapel of rest with therapeutic sound as part of the ritual or ceremony that you are conducting. 

A funeral or memorial service offers the setting for sound instruments to be used as part of a meditation or period of reflection in the ceremony. I have played the gongs and Himalayan Singing Bowls in both the crematorium and at burials. I supported three granddaughters to play the singing bowls at the burial of their grandmother. It was a cathartic period of learning for them and hugely meaningful for them to play as her coffin was lowered. I have hung my gongs in the trees at a woodland burial and played alongside a sister of a young woman who died as the grave was backfilled at a woodland burial. I have used drums and pipe chimes to lead processions to the graveside; it is such a primal experience and where families are involved too, they are empowered and actively ‘doing’ their grief work.

Gong bath for grief

If you are interested in learning more about the use of therapeutic sound with the dying and the bereaved, please do get in touch. I am looking to offer a training in 2023 so keep an eye out for details in the New Year!


Sarah Weller

Anneva – Priestess of Cerridwen

Sarah Weller - Death Priestess

I am blessed to work within my community as an end of life doula, a funeral ceremonialist/celebrant and as an undertaker working from my little farm- based funeral home – The Potager.

Sarah Weller PL.Dip.ST (BAST) Dip. GST (BAST)

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