A memorial service celebrates the deceased, but it really exists for the benefit of that person's family and friends, to help them accept the loss and begin the grieving process. Many factors set the tone—the arrangement of seating in the room, for example, as well as the lighting and decorations such as flowers and photos. Music also plays a significant role. Although many families choose one particular song, services typically allow for many songs to be placed, especially while guests gather informally before the service begins and after it ends. One of the benefits of preplanning a funeral is that you can take your time and choose music that's meaningful to you and your family and friends. Use this guide to help you plan.
Live vs. Recorded
Recorded music is standard, but a live performance by a family or friend adds a deeply personal touch to the service. Talk to your funeral service director abut what kind of accommodations the funeral home can make for live music.
Instrumental music is a good choice to use in the background before the service begins, while speakers are at the podium, and as people begin to depart. It's not necessary to choose recognizable songs, since the purpose is to support the speakers or cue guests that the service is transitioning from one segment to the next.
Varied music makes the service a little more comfortable for guests. A good mix incorporates songs of a variety of tempos and uses some faster tunes to ease tension and provide relief from the emotion spurred by slower, more "funereal" songs.
There's no getting around the fact that funerals are sad, difficult events for everyone who attends. But that doesn't mean all the music has to be heavy. Varying between songs with upbeat lyrics and songs with more serious ones, in both classic and modern styles, helps put guests at ease while paying homage to the deceased.
There are so many possible choices that picking a handful can get overwhelming. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
- "Wind Beneath My Wings," by Bette Midler
- "Landslide," by Fleetwood Mac
- "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die," by Frank Sinatra
- "Good Riddance," by Green Day
- "One Sweet Day," by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men
- "Don't Worry, Be Happy," by Bobby McFerrin
There's no way around the intense emotion and sadness that accompanies the loss of a beloved family or friend. But the right music can help ease guests through the service and provide comfort for their grief.