Choosing Songs for Funerals

after memorials candle
  • Take time to remember what songs your loved may have wanted played at their memorial
  • Make a playlist and share it with your loved one’s close friends and family to see if they have any songs they might want to add
  • Reach out to a funeral home for suggestions about music to play
  • See if friends or family might want to help you with arranging a list of songs if things are getting too difficult for you

Losing a loved one leaves a silence in life. Now that your loved one is gone, you may need to begin the difficult journey of making the arrangements for the funeral and other end-of-life ceremonies. There are many things to keep in mind while you are making these arrangements, such as what type of decorations or flowers your loved one may have wanted for their service, whether you will serve food, how many people to invite for the wake, and so on. One of the things that many people choose to honor their loved ones with is a selection of songs that is representative of their tastes. Making use of all the resources available to you in making this selection will lighten the load you have to carry at this difficult time.

Songs for Funerals Bestow a Thoughtful Presence

At the outset of planning your loved one’s funeral and other ceremonies, such as the wake and the graveside service, you may find it difficult to focus on choosing which songs, if any, to include. You may ask yourself, “Should I pick songs that my loved one would have wanted to be played? Did they have any favorite hymns? Did they leave any indication of specific tracks to play at their memorial? Is what I am choosing fitting for the occasion? Should I let others who are involved in planning the funeral have a say in which songs are chosen? Does the funeral home or house of worship have a selection that I can choose from? Should I have live music, recorded music, or a list of both?” These are all valid questions, and you may even have more, and we hope that the information in this article can help you answer some of them.

Honoring Your Loved One Throught Music

If your loved one was a music lover, take some time to think back on the songs you remembered them loving while you were with them. Maybe they talked about these songs with you, maybe they put them on, or maybe they expressed how much they enjoyed a certain piece of music. If the funeral will be a religious ceremony, consider some of your loved one’s favorite hymns or other religious music depending on your faith. If you are having a hard time thinking of them, reach out to friends or family to source a selection. You may also wish to speak to the minister conducting the ceremony to see if they have any suggestions about which songs might be appropriate for both your loved one and the occasion of their funeral service. 

Songs Can Honor A Loved One’s Wishes

Consider the tone you wish to set for the funeral service. If your loved one told you they wanted an upbeat or sombre service, follow their wishes, and select songs that would set such a mood. This is a good opportunity to seek input from others if you are unsure of how to proceed. If you know that your loved one never specified the tone or mood they wanted for their service, now is your time to choose music that best reflects their personality and what you think their wishes may have been. This is also a good time to source the opinions of others, as they may have information about your loved one regarding their musical tastes that you were unaware of. Furthermore, it is potentially an opportunity for you to learn something new about your loved one’s tastes and preferences.

Choosing Songs for Funerals and End-of-Life Celebrations

If you are stuck on choosing songs for funeral services, and you are utilizing the experience and services of a funeral home for the arrangement of your loved one’s memorials, consider reaching out to their staff for recommendations about the type of music to play. They will usually have a selection of songs available. As mentioned above, for a funeral service in a house of worship, consult with the religious leader about some hymns to include if you find yourself at an impasse. You may want to have some organ music, a small choral ensemble, or even pre-recorded tracks to play. For the graveside memorial, which typically involves fewer people than the wake or the funeral, consider something small, such as asking the attendees to sing a short hymn, or employing a solo musician or small ensemble. 

As with all else involved in the process, take some time off if things are getting stressful. Keep it simple. However you go about choosing songs for your loved one’s funeral and other end-of-life ceremonies, remember that there is no one right way to make this selection. Everyone has their own process. All memorial services are unique in that they are occasions to celebrate and mourn an individual now gone. This is an opportunity to honor that individual’s memory through the very personal medium of music.