Stubborn Love | The Power of Lyrics

Stubborn Love | The Power of Lyrics

“Its better to feel pain, than nothing at all.

The opposite of love is indifference.”

It was around 10:30 on a Wednesday night, and there I was, driving out to Laguna Hills to bring someone who had passed away into our care. Only this time I was not going to be calling a stranger to let them know their loved one was in our care. I was not going to fill out any paperwork with a strange name at the heading, nor was I going to be setting up an appointment for the family to meet an Arranger.

The man I was receiving was my great-uncle. I was going to be calling my grandmother (telling her that her brother was in our care), and I was going to be writing a name I had heard my entire life into our log.

I had received the call about his somewhat “expected” death about 2 hours earlier. I had been out playing a night round of disc-golf with some of my closest friends. When I told them I was leaving early to go comfort my mother and grandmother, they shook my hand, hugged me, gave their condolences, and wished me well. I was fine. In fact, I was more than fine. I was relieved.

My Uncle Jim was someone who could be easily forgotten. Not by choice, but by comfort. He was an addict, a borderline recluse, and a common dealer of the ‘ol disappearing act. I had maybe met him a dozen times in my 23 years, and each time there was a complaint about him. I had never really grown close to him. He was family but felt more like an acquaintance.

Yet even still, there I was, driving out to work on my night off, ready to make sure he had a good reception into the mortuary Care Center.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I got an idea. I parked, and I walked over to the Seven-Eleven in our neighboring shopping complex. I bought a Monster energy drink, and a pack of Marlboro Reds. I haven’t smoked since I started working for the mortuary, but Reds were (Uncle) Jim’s favorite. I searched for a lighter in my car, put my Amazon Kindle music player on shuffle, and took a long drag out of the cigarette. The first song started playing, and it broke me down.

The song that came on was “Stubborn Love” by The Lumineers. For those of you who have never heard it, it is about a gentleman involved with a woman who is always letting him down. She lies, steals from him, and cheats but yet he still loves her. He still is trying to find a way to make it work.

The song made me realize what and why I was doing what I was doing. The fact that Jim had caused so much pain in our family was thrown out the window. I realized my indifference towards him was selfish, and that my stubborn love for one of my most distant family members led me to where I was at that exact moment. It was stubborn love that led my grandma to stay awake for almost 48 hours to make sure she was there for his final moments, and it was stubborn love that had my mom playing his favorite Elvis tunes in his ear as he lay there unconscious.

I find that some of life’s most precious lessons can be found in the lyrics of some of our favorite songs. Families usually bring in an entire playlist of music that helps them reminisce about the life their loved one led. It’s beautiful to sit in the back of the chapel and hear I Did It My Way and hum to Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Why? Because music stays with every generation to come. The lessons and memories locked into some of our favorite lyrics are going to be here forever. Some will bring us pain and sadness, but many will bring us understanding and light. From now on, Stubborn Love will forever be associated on that cold Wednesday night, in my favorite parking lot, having one of Jim’s favorite vices.

As Chuck Riccardi said a few blogs back to “Stop and smell the roses…” I encourage you to maybe stop and listen to the lyrics. It may just be the lyrics of your life, or, like in my case, someone else’s.

|| what do you think?

What songs have lyrically stood out to you?

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? Next time, look up its lyrics and see what happens!

Do you have any songs that have a special meaning to you or a loved one?

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.


  1. Chuck Ricciardi says:

    It is only when we are still that we can be receptive to all the energies around us. Taking that moment in your car, and having the universe play that song at that moment allowed you to open up and grieve. Music is a huge part of are lives and helps us along our journey. There are very few funeral or memorial events and celebrations that do not include music. Families spend lots of time deciding what songs are best to help tell their loved ones story and music can do just that. I know whenever you hear an Elvis song for the rest of your life you will be thinking of your great uncle Jim.

    I believe you are on a path that was meant to be, keep serving from the heart and you will receive more that you ever thought possible.


    • Michael Thomas says:

      Thank you Chuck for your inspiration with your writing. It played a big piece in my evening on that night. Obviously, I was stopping to smell the roses when I listened hard to that song. Now one of my favorite songs has a whole different meaning to it, and i thank you.

  2. Becky Finch Lomaka says:

    What a meaningful blog! I am looking out at some beautiful spring flowers as I write this. You and Chuck are so right that we need to remember to take time to stop and smell the roses. I am so glad you allowed yourself that moment to contemplate and grieve your loss; music sends such a powerful message to us. When my friend’s son died of cancer last year, one of his young friends played the guitar and sang “I Will See You Again” by Carrie Underwood and since my brother died, I have found that song especially meaningful and comforting. When we were planning my brother’s funeral, my 18-year-old niece found great comfort spending hours compiling a playlist of her Dad’s favorite songs to be played at his visitation. We even played some of my brother’s favorites as we were gathered by his side at the hospital as he was taken off life support. Something about music helps give us permission to pause and and remember.


    • Michael Thomas says:

      That’s beautiful, Becky. I hope that that song continues to be a tool of healing and a reminder of the love you had for your dear sibling. Love you, Beckster.

  3. Jeff Turner says:

    What a great picture into these private and intense moments during the first hours after your uncles story ended here. I too am thankful for music and lyrical poetry and the stories they can weave into our lives. I guess that’s why most movies need a soundtrack and why some soundtracks are far better than the movie. What a special service you were able to do for your uncle and your family. The peace of mind knowing that “you” were the one caring for him this must have brought to your entire family. Reverence for the vessel that carried your uncle through all of the ups and downs, the happiness and pain is so touching. The almost instantaneous transformation of your heart and attitude toward him and your role in caring for him is profound in ways I cannot fully express here.

    Michael, you are a credit to our profession and we hear it often about you from the families that you serve. Thank you for what you do, but more importantly, thank for your heart, because your heart is “why” you do what you do so very well.


    • Michael Thomas says:

      Thank you, Jeff. It means a lot. The pain of it all came in short and quick shock, but it was still very real. I have come to peace with his passing, and that song now brings a smile to my face. Thank you for your leadership in drive for excellence, as it directly impacts my performances on services.

  4. Michael,
    I love this post because I think you are talking about a concept that many people are familiar with but that no one talks about. There have been many songs in my life that have served as significant markers of moments and struggles. They are like pathways into old parts of my soul and even though some of them are painful, they are beautiful symbols that mark where I’ve been & how I’ve changed.

    A very significant song for me has always been “Fix You” by Coldplay. It came out around the time my first dog died, Pumpkin. When I would sing the words, “I will try to fix you” I was saying to her that I would “fix” her in my memory, not forget what a sweet pet she was. She was put down when her hip broke and these words, “lights will guide you home and ignite your bones” brought me so much comfort.

    Thank you for bringing up the power of songs in our lives. I’m so glad that you have one to mark not only Jim’s life but a powerful realization you had about family. It’s a beautiful story.


    • Michael Thomas says:

      “Fix You” is one of my all time FAVORITE songs. It brings so many different emotions forward, like safety and courage, but also pain and suffering. It’s meaning suddenly changed when I heard it in a commercial for World Trade Center. Literally made me tear up. The memories of that day combined with that song very eloquently put it all in perspective as to not worry so much about what happened that day, but how we are going to “fix” it moving forward. Thanks Molly again for your leadership with our Blog Team

  5. Tom says:

    Thank you, Mike for the thoughts you have shared with us. I’ve found, personally, when I make judgements about myself, others, or events that they usually don’t have a basis in reality. That is, I ask myself to find to find another way of looking at at my or another’s behavior. And, lyrics offer a different perspective to clarify or chalange me or us to look at life through a different lens.


    • Michael Thomas says:

      Thank you Tom. We share some similar thought processes, you and I. Our fascination for human emotion and ‘how things work” I think adds another level to our relationship.

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