Knowing the best funeral songs to play at a loved one’s service can be a difficult choice. Unless your loved one left details about their wishes for their preferred service, it might even seem an overwhelming task: what songs are best for funerals? Are there good funeral songs? Should you choose a popular funeral song?
What Are the Best Funeral Songs?
Something we think it’s important to say that what constitutes a “best funeral song” is different for everyone. Some might want songs that reflect their religious or spiritual beliefs. Others might want to include songs that were important to their loved one, or songs that played during important times of their life. Still others might want to choose funeral songs that are popular choices among others.
When it comes to choosing the best funeral songs for your particular service, we encourage you to remember that whatever you choose is best. If you want certain songs because of their historical or spiritual importance, that’s what matters most.
Why is Music Important at Funerals?
Music is integral to memory. We’ve all experienced hearing a song that we’ve not heard since childhood and immediately being taken back to that time and the memories we have of those times. This powerful connection is heightened even more when the events that we associate with certain songs are milestone events, or events with elevated emotions.
Music can also help us feel and express our grief in ways that speaking cannot. When we hear a song that reminds us of our loved one, that song acts as a catalyst to help us further feel and process our emotions. Furthermore, music can set the tone of a service, and it can affect the mood of those in attendance. It has been an element of funerals and memorial services throughout time and across various cultures for a reason: it helps us say and process things that otherwise we wouldn’t be able to express.
Best Songs for Funerals: A Brief Guide
There are different ways to approach music at a funeral or memorial service. One is to defer to your funeral director and allow them to choose the music that will be played. This can be a particularly appealing option if you are overwhelmed with the choices you’re being asked to make, if you don’t have strong feelings about which songs are played, or if your loved one didn’t leave their intentions about their preferred music or funeral details.
If this is the option you choose, there will still be discussion that helps us clarify which songs might be best for your loved one’s service. We might ask if they loved a particular song when they went to religious services, or if they had a favorite song growing up. We might ask what type of music they preferred: classical, instrumental, folk, acoustic, rock. We might ask if you have thoughts on those same questions.
Once we know a little more about you, we can start creating a list of options. To do that, we might research to generate a list of the most popular funeral songs. Or we might consult with your place of worship to see if they suggest particular songs.
Most Popular Funeral Songs
In later posts, we’ll go into more detail about the most popular songs for specific people. For example, we’ll talk more about the most popular funeral songs for a parent vs. the most popular funeral songs for a child. For now, we’ll share a few of the most popular funeral songs in general.
That list includes the following modern songs, in no particular order:
Keep Me In Your Heart by Warren Zevon
Time to Say Goodbye by Sarah Brightman
I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan
You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban
The Dance by Garth Brooks
Goodbye My Friend by Linda Ronstadt
Please Remember Me by Tim McGraw
To Where You Are by Josh Groban
Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler
These songs are also popular, though more religious:
Amazing Grace by various artists
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
Soon and Very Soon
Be Not Afraid
On Angel’s Wings
Here I Am, Lord
Best Funeral Songs: How Do You Choose?
If you prefer to personalize your loved one’s funeral or service with music that you choose, it might help to think about the reasons you have in doing so. For example, is it because your loved one left instructions and you already know exactly what to play? Or do you want to create a soundtrack that spans your loved one’s life? Or maybe you want to honor them in a unique way.
Thinking about your reasons before you choose songs can help narrow your choices and make the task a bit less onerous. For example, if you want to create a soundtrack that spans your loved one’s life, you can focus on top or favorite songs from specific years, rather than worrying about every song ever written.
Playing music at a funeral or a service can be a beautiful way of honoring your loved one. If you play their favorite childhood song, or their school’s anthem, or their favorite tune to dance to, you can honor their memory in a way that is special and unique to them. Doing so will also give those in attendance something special to remember your loved one by.
We understand how overwhelming these choices can be and we’re here to help in any way we can. Reach out to talk to us about how you can personalize your loved one’s service, or to learn how to pre-plan some elements of a funeral to make the process easier when that time comes.