The death of a beloved friend or family member is never easy. Knowing that we can never see them again, we at least want to send them off with songs to remember, mourn, and celebrate them one last time.
Today we’ve some songs about life for funerals that will help with exactly that.
“Everyday Life” by Coldplay
Song Year: 2019
Coldplay’s somber yet moving piece tugs at the heartstrings and reminds us that crying, loving, hurting, laughing, and dying are universal. Regardless of who you are or what kind of life you live, you still live your life every day, just like the billions around you, and there’s something special in just that.
“Hurt” by Johnny Cash
Song Year: 2002
Just a few months before his death, Johnny Cash covered the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt.” It was a bitter-sweet song paired with a video that revealed the deteriorating health of the old folk singer.
Lyrically, the singer reveals how despite all his past successes, he finds himself alone and wishes he could go back to when life was better. It’s melancholy, emotional, and a song that’s simple but has a lot of depth.
“In My Life” by The Beatles
Song Year: 1965
This quiet and calming tune is an oldie, but record gold in the hearts of everyone it has touched since the Beatles ruled the 60s.
“In My Life,” while shorter than most songs, is meaningful as it’s dedicated to remembering all the memories, people, and good times of the past. Even though some people persist while others have gone, loving them is all the same, and the memories that were made can be considered cherished keepsakes within one’s mind.
“Slip Slidin’ Away” by Paul Simon
Song Year: 2011
Life can be taken at a moment’s notice. There’s something so fragile and fleeting about it, yet people spend most of their life drifting aimlessly and not chasing their dreams.
This was Simon’s purpose when writing “Slip Slidin’ Away”; to remind us of our mortality and that having aspirations doesn’t mean much if you don’t live deliberately. As such, this simple song is an excellent addition to the funeral of someone who always lived life to the fullest and never stopped chasing their dreams.
It could also mean that, like everything else in life, a person slipped away too fast.
“Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.
Song Year: 1992
Everyone feels pain; that’s natural. This is a song to remind everyone that despite the tragic loss of someone important, life goes on.
It’s a fitting funeral song not because it mourns death but because it focuses on the people left behind. It’s a message from the deceased to their friends and family that they may feel pain now, but eventually, they’ll be able to make it to greener pastures.
“My Way” by Frank Sinatra
Song Year: 1969
Play this powerful, moving masterpiece at the funeral of someone who lived their life confidently and brazenly until the end. It’s for someone who may have made a lot of mistakes and had a few regrets but wouldn’t change anything about their life, even if they could go back.
It’s for someone who lived a fulfilling life. They said and did everything they had to and were ready to move on at the time of their death. If anything could be afforded to them, they did it their way, and they were respected for that.
“What Is Life” by George Harrison
Song Year: 1970
If you clicked on the video or knew the song, you might not be sure why we included such a happy tune on this list.
It’s because not everyone wants somber songs played at their funeral. There are a few happy-go-lucky souls out there that would prefer their funeral be seen as a celebration of their life rather than a melancholy memorial.
And what better song than George Harrison’s “What Is Life”? It sounds like the end-credit song that would play at the end of a feel-good movie and can be seen as a reminder of the deceased person’s uplifting personality.
“Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohen
Song Year: 1991
Marc Cohen’s inspiration for this song was when the singer was physically walking through Memphis. Eventually, he stated its meaning became more than arriving at a physical place and could be interpreted with a more spiritual message.
Overall, “Walking in Memphis” is open-ended and could certainly symbolize walking through life. It’s the song’s unrestrictiveness that makes it ideal for a funeral, and while it’s slow-paced and mainly piano based, it’s not sad either. If anything, it’s full of tranquility, peace, and love.
“Santa Monica Dream” by Angus and Julia Stone
Song Year: 2010
“Santa Monica Dream” isn’t as well known as other entries on this list, but it hits hard when you pay attention to the lyrics. The soft vocal duet sings about saying goodbye and recounts the everyday lives of people living in the moment.
The song also mentions leaving others behind, which is a hard but inevitable reality. Regardless of who goes, someone is going to be sad, and there’s not much that can be done except look to the future and pray.
“Dust in the Wind” by Kansas
Song Year: 1977
People don’t last forever; that’s the message Kansas was trying to convey when they wrote: “Dust in the Wind.” It was meant to be depressing, slightly nihilistic, yet oddly inspiring in a way. Even though everyone, along with their dreams, lives, and goals, will disappear, there’s something beautiful about how fleeting life is.
It’s similar to why tree flowers are so beautiful: they blossom in the spring yet wither away so fast. For that, they’re admired and cherished for their short lives.
“Story of My Life” by Social Distortion
Song Year: 1990
If the person who passed enjoyed classic punk rock music, then they probably knew this popular 90s hit. It’s another song about how short life is and its strange tendency to pass in the blink of an eye. Within it, the singer recounts all the strange experiences he’s had throughout his life and feels it was a bit wasted due to his lack of action.
This song has pleasant guitar riffs and meaningful lyrics but is another circumstantial funeral track. Again, it’s not for everyone, but it makes for a worthwhile listen for those it does speak to.
“Supermarket Flowers” by Ed Sheeran
Song Year: 2017
Written for his deceased grandmother, Ed Sheeran sings about packing up the house of someone who had recently died.
He talks about the get-well cards and the day-old cup of tea and how they represent all the love the person had received while they were alive. Through putting away all the stuff in the house, he remembers all the memories of their life and the valuable lessons this person taught them.
Overall, “Supermarket Flowers” is an incredibly emotional and beautiful ballet with undertones relevant to the writer himself. It’s songs like these that make us cry because they were originally written by someone going through the same ordeal of death.
“If I Die Young” by The Band Perry
Song Year: 2010
Death is always sad, but it’s even worse when it creeps up on youth. The tragedy when a life is taken before it has been lived is unspeakably unfortunate but happens more often than it should. All you can do when it occurs is focus on the people who are left.
In “If I Die Young,” the singer explains that though life may have been short, there was still beauty within it. Like a rainbow in the sky, they shined above all and disappeared as swiftly as they appeared.
“In Loving Memory” by Alter Bridge
Song Year: 2004
Alter Bridge’s “In Loving Memory” is a track directly about death and losing someone. It’s a woeful melody that mourns the death of a loved one but also mentions the singer being comforted by all the ways this person affected them during their life.
Life is artistically alluring in its existence, yet the memories only serve as painful reminders in the end. Fortunately, the negative connotations of a person’s death eventually subside, and you’re left with closure, knowing that the deceased was ever in your life in the first place.
“Like a Candle in the Wind” by Elton John
Song Year: 1973
For the final entry on this list, we think Elton John’s “Like a Candle in the Wind” is a fitting song to end things.
In the song, the singer addresses Marylin Monroe by her real name, Norma Jeane, and recounts how she lived a wild, risk-filled life like a candle in the wind. He explains the impact she had on everyone around her and that while she was physically gone, her memory would live in the memories of everyone else.
Songs About Life For Funerals, Final Thoughts
Death is always tragic, but that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to smile. As many of the songs on this list remind us, it’s not the end of a life that matters, nor its birth, but the time spent in between and all the memories that were made with cherished loved ones and friends.