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Is It Okay to Play Happy Songs at Funerals? July 29, 2020

Person playing classical guitar

At Fares J. Radel Funeral Homes and Crematory, we have seen seismic changes in funerals over the generations our family has been honored to serve the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area. We have been proud to be a part of many of those changes, starting with being one of the first funeral homes to offer automotive transportation in the country. Through the years, we established the first privately owned crematorium in Cincinnati, offer in-home funeral consultations and pre-planning, access to Gus our grief support dog and we’ve been a part in planning some unusual and creative final services.

As “Celebrations of Life” become more commonplace for those planning a funeral or final services, we continue to get questions about whether certain aspects would be “appropriate.” Usually our response is if the family is comfortable with an idea, and it honors a loved one, it may be appropriate for them.

One such question we get is asking if it is appropriate to play “happy” music at final services. This tends to lead us into a discussion about having a “Celebration of Life” as opposed to a funeral, where a casual, more uplifting setting may be better for such music. Such a celebration can be a bit easier on the family, especially when it includes happy and even perhaps slightly irreverent music.

Here are some music selections that have been selected. You may feel some are more or less appropriate than others.

My Way – Frank Sinatra

While certainly not a traditional funeral song, My Way speaks to a lot of people, especially if the deceased was independent or strong-willed. Few would find this song inappropriate even in a more subdued service.

What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

This uplifting yet haunting song reminds us of just how beautiful and precious life can be and to make the most of everyday.

Don’t You Forget About Me – Simple Minds

A superb choice for someone who was unforgettable in life. Just about everyone will remember this tune from the 1980s classic Breakfast Club.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python

While not as familiar in the United States, this song from the movie “Life of Brian” is one of the most requested songs at funerals in the U.K. It will certainly leave visitors with a smile.

Even edgier songs like Highway to Hell from AC/DC, Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult and Another One Bites the Dust by Queen have been used in Celebrations of Life. A lot can depend on the age and lifestyle of the individual who is being remembered.

If you have questions about pre-planning a funeral or if you have a current need, we invite you to contact us. If you don’t have a family funeral director in the Greater Cincinnati area, we would be honored to serve.

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