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Choosing the perfect funeral songs can be one of the hardest decisions when arranging a funeral. You may be faced with selecting songs on behalf of a loved one – or possibly planning ahead for your own future service. Either will be an emotional struggle and decisions may need to be made very quickly.
The main aim is to try and select music that truly reflects the person – and the life they led. Think back to funerals you have attended. Some of your most prominent memories about the service will likely be of the music that was played.
This guide can help you through the process by looking at the top 5 things to consider when choosing funeral music.
1 . How many songs can you have?
The type of service chosen may dictate what type of music you can have. Religious services may lend themselves towards traditional hymns, music and songs. Ask the person who will be leading the service for guidance around what you are (or are not) permitted to have.
In modern funeral services, you usually have to choose a piece of music for the start and end of the service. You may however have further opportunities within the service for other pieces of music to be played. This could be during the service to allow for a period of quiet reflection. It could be played whilst pictures and videos are being shown on a slide show.
If you are limited with the number of songs you can have, why not create a playlist of songs that could be played at the gathering or wake after the service has concluded.
Once you know of any potential restrictions – and how many song choices you have, you can then start with the selection process.
2. It’s personal....
It may seem obvious – but this service is all about the person that has died. Use this opportunity to make sure the songs or music choices truly reflect the person, and not what people may ‘expect’ you to choose.
It is much more common now to have any choice of song played. We often now view funerals as a celebration of life. Upbeat songs, songs of importance and music that held special meaning should all be considered.
Why not take a look at the person’s own music choices on their devices, online music accounts or in their CD collection if you are able to access these? This can be a really clear indicator of the type of music they liked if you are not sure.
Is there anyone in your group of family or friends that can sing or play an instrument? This can make the service even more personal.
People will often feel honoured to be asked to do this – even if they are nervous about the experience.
3. Think about the tone
Consider what tone you would like to set for the service. Music has a special way of triggering thoughts and emotions – happy or sad. What would the person have wanted? If they were someone that was known for being funny, playing an uplifting song make people think ‘that is exactly what they would have wanted!’
If you are permitted to have multiple choices, why not set the tone of the service by storytelling with music. Each stage of the service can be marked by songs that guide the mourners through a journey.
You may want a more thoughtful, emotional song for the entrance procession, followed by a really personal song for the period of reflection. Then why not finish off with something upbeat for their last song. Alternatively, you could do this in reverse
4. Consider the lyrics carefully
We often do not fully listen to the lyrics of a song unless we are specifically concentrating on them – such as at a funeral service.
Some lyrics may have a perfect meaning and are easy to choose. Other lyrics may be inappropriate, offensive or risk being interpreted by others in the wrong way. If they cause offence, this may add further anguish to an already difficult time.
Consider the audience, the type of service and the message of each music selection. If you are not sure, why not ask someone independent to listen to your choices to get some impartial feedback.
5. Ask others for suggestions.
If you are funeral planning on behalf of someone close, you may already have a good idea of their favourite songs.
If you are struggling however, why not ask close friends and family members for any suggestions.
It may be a song from the person’s younger days that represented a happy time that you had not thought of – or were not aware of.
You may also find out if there are any non-negotiable songs that other family members would really like to hear at the service.
Discussing this with others can also lead to people recalling memories of happier times. This may bring a little light to help you through this emotional process too.
Planning your final playlist
This is your opportunity to give your loved one a memorable and fitting send off. Try not to worry about what other people may say about the final music choices. They are the best you can do at an incredibly difficult time.
Work through these steps to hopefully avoid any potential conflict and ensure the choices properly represent the deceased.
Why not discuss your own funeral music choices with others now? You may be surprised at what songs or styles others would like for their funerals. Having the discussion now, can avoid future uncertainty or anguish. When you have had the conversation, record your wishes in your Sunset Plan digital vault, ready for when they are needed.
Why not share this post on social media? Encourage others to plan ahead for their final music playlist.