Choosing your funeral music – getting it right and how there really is no wrong
When it comes to choosing funeral music the possibilities are endless – and trust me, in my time delivering funerals I’ve heard them all. From the ever popular My Way by Frank Sinatra, to the on-the-nose choice of ACDC’s Highway to Hell, there’s no perfect way to choose. Music like many things in life - and death - is so personal but that can make us feel the pressure to get it right all the more.
When choosing a song for the funeral of a loved one, people can often go for a song that references the need to say goodbye and coming to terms with life without them - think Time to Say Goodbye or Tears in Heaven. These choices acknowledge that a funeral is often the time that we really begin the grieving process. The other way songs are usually chosen is to commemorate the life of those no longer with us, options like Simply the Best by Tina Turner and Wind Beneath my Wings by Bette Midler are always popular choices.
The thing I always tell my clients, and the thing that is most important to remember, is that you can choose anything. Your choice doesn’t have to be a “funeral song”. This song will likely remind you of the person you’ve lost for a long time - so think about what will be the most fitting tribute. It could be their favourite song, a song they loved to dance to, or just something that simply reminds you of them. If you’re organising the funeral of someone who loved heavy metal, would they really appreciate a ballad just because it seems more fitting?
If you google popular funeral music, you’ll be inundated with lists of “songs you should never play at a funeral” but I tend to think there aren’t really any inappropriate choices. As long as the person whose funeral it is would have appreciated it then most of those in attendance, who knew that person, will be in on why that choice is the perfect fit. It can be funny, tongue in cheek, sad or totally random. The point is, if it reminds you of them, then that’s a good enough reason to play it.
In a recent poll, one of the most popular choices in the UK was the Last of the Summer Wine theme-tune. If your loved one wasn’t particularly into music, thinking about themetunes or movie soundtracks is another route you could go down. Were they glamourous? How about I’m Always Here from Baywatch. Or a bit of an action man? – perhaps the James Bond theme.
One of the greatest things with modern funerals, facilitated by celebrants, is you can do whatever you want (within the rules of the venue) and your choices in music should be viewed the same way. You can sing a hymn if you like, play a song that makes you laugh or, as I’ve asked my family to organise for me, have everyone up and boogying to Dancing Queen as the coffin is brought in. Funerals are your time to grieve, but they’re also your time to reflect and celebrate a wonderful life lived and that should be reflected through the music choices.
If you choose music that you know your loved one would have enjoyed, danced to, sang along, cried or laughed at, you really can’t get it wrong.