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Oct 10, 2021 / After Life

How to Choose Music for a Funeral

How to Choose Music for a Funeral image

Choosing the music to be played at the funeral of a loved one is perhaps one of the hardest choices when arranging a funeral. If the deceased did not leave any guidance on songs that they like, then it is up to you to think about which song memorialises them. People may choose funeral songs based on the following factors:

  • Songs about death
  • The deceased’s favourite song
  • A song that reminds them of the deceased
  • An upbeat song
  • A song that sets the tone of the funeral

Here are some of our tips to help you choose the right funeral music.

Think About Your Deceased Loved One 

While you may think an emotional rap embodies everything you are feeling about your loved one passing away, Great Aunt Mabel and her friends may not appreciate it at your mum’s funeral. Similarly, popular funeral songs may not be right for the deceased and their life. Think about your loved one and the life they lead when choosing the song. There may be a song that they loved that speaks to their life or made them happy in sad times. You do not always need to choose from songs about death; there are plenty of songs out there about change, happiness, or satisfaction with life.

What Tone Do You Want To Set?

If your loved one would have wanted the service to be a celebration of their life, then consider a more upbeat song. One that they enjoyed dancing to (if appropriate) or that they listened to a lot. If it is a song that many of their friends and family would recognise as hearing regularly, it will make people smile. Some people have picked wedding songs for their loved ones’ funerals or silly songs; it does not always need to be a popular funeral song.

Uplifting funeral songs or religious funeral songs might be appropriate if the deceased was religious. The song may talk about the promise of an afterlife and seeing everyone again. You might choose their favourite hymn or a song that meant a lot to them.

How Many Songs Should I Choose For a Funeral?

It will depend on the type of service you are having. Some cultures or religions do not allow music during funeral services, so be sure to check with the funeral home or the religious leader organising the ceremony. The best thing to do is ask how many songs you need to pick and if there are any restrictions or guides that you need to follow when selecting funeral songs. You should consider if you need songs for the following moments

  • People arriving for the service
  • A slideshow of memories (if applicable)
  • Leaving the funeral home
  • The lowering of the casket (if applicable)
  • The wake

Every service is different, so contact the person in charge of organising the funeral to check how many songs you need to pick.

How to Select The Funeral Songs 

The best way to choose funeral songs is to sit down and write down as many songs as you can think of that might be suitable for your loved one’s funeral. List the following things:

  • Their favourite songs
  • Songs that remind you of them
  • Songs that meant a lot to them
  • Songs about death
  • Popular funeral songs
  • Songs that fit the mood you are trying to create for their funeral

From that list, pick a shortlist that you think would be suitable for the funeral. The size of the shortlist will depend on the number of songs you need to pick. If someone other than you is organising a tribute or anything else that may require songs (a band for the wake or a relative singing at the funeral), then check with them that there is no overlap.

Once you have your shortlist, check the lyrics of all of the songs to make sure they are appropriate. Often we’ll think of a song because of a chorus or a verse that really stands out in our minds and feels suitable. But other verses or parts of the song might not be appropriate for the setting. Read through the lyrics of the song online to make sure there are not any shocks during the funeral.

Next, consider the range of people who will be at the funeral. You will have family members ranging significantly in age and a number of friends of your loved one close to their age. Consider the ages and backgrounds in attendance when choosing music for a funeral so that you don’t offend anyone. You might need to consider the following things too:

  • The ability of the musicians if you are hiring musicians to play the songs
  • Any negative memories around songs for family or close friends
  • If the song may be offensive to some people
  • If you can get a copy of the song to play
  • Any limitations of the funeral home or the ceremony

Ask For Input

Don’t be afraid to ask for input when choosing songs for the funeral. Talk to people who knew your loved one well about the songs you are considering. Find out if one of them perfectly embodies the deceased or is an instant no. At least consult one of their close friends and a close family member. This way, you get input from the people who knew them well. Our loved ones often have many different sides to their personality that they show to different people in their lives. By consulting with their loved ones, you can pick songs that speak to them as a whole person.

Popular Funeral Songs 

If you are still a little bit stuck and want to see some examples of uplifting funeral songs or mournful songs, then we have a list to get you started.

  • Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Middler
  • My Way – Frank Sinatra
  • When September Ends – Greenday
  • I Had the Time of My Life – Black Eyed Peas
  • Let It Be – The Beatles
  • Candle In the Wind – Elton John
  • Smile – Nat King Cole
  • Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
  • Danny Boy 
  • Amazing Grace
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Published Oct 10, 2021 |


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