Pop Music For Funerals 0

pop music for funerals

Music is a great way to evoke feelings and memories attached to a particular time, place or person and is often used to personalise funerals, to ensure the service is relevant to the deceased and to represent something of their life. For those who have grown up with it, no genre of music is more evocative of good times than pop music. Here we take a look at nine of the best pieces of pop music for funerals and try to suggest a song for every type of individual or service. Below you’ll find three tearjerkers, three more uplifting pieces, and three alternative, funnier examples of pop music for funerals. Feel free to comment below with any songs that we’ve missed out.

 

Three tearjerkers

Over the Rainbow – Eva Cassidy

Eva Cassidy’s haunting vocals and beautifully minimal guitar playing make for an extremely emotional experience when it’s played at funerals. This magnificent cover has become an increasingly popular choice of funeral music in recent years and is sure to remain one for the foreseeable future.

 

Nothing Compares to You – Sinead O’Connor

If you really want to emphasise the unique role the deceased played in the lives of those mourners gathered at the service, there’s no better choice than O’Connor’s classic, Nothing Compares To You.

 

Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

If the deceased’s interest in music veered away from traditional pop tracks towards prog or rock, Wish You Were Here might prove a good option for the funeral. This sad song, backed by wonderful instrumentalists, expresses exactly what many will be thinking and feeling as they gather together to mourn their loss.

 

Three uplifting tracks

My Way – Frank Sinatra

A fitting tribute to anyone who made the most of the short time we’re allotted on this planet, Sinatra’s My Way is an uplifting track that ensures the focus of the funeral service is on the deceased’s life and not their death.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone – Gerry and the Pacemakers

Though it may be heavily associated with Liverpool FC and its supporters, this song sends out a positive message of companionship, reassurance and unity at a time when these qualities are desperately needed.

 

See You Again – Wiz Khalifa

This modern entry was written for the Fast and the Furious franchise as a tribute to its protagonist and star, Paul Walker, upon his death in 2015. Unlike a number of other contemporary tracks popular at funerals, it tries hard to ensure its message is an uplifting one.

 

Three for a laugh

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Eric Idle

Most people will know this as the song that closes the classic Monty Python film Life of Brian, but it’s also quickly becoming a firm favourite among those hoping to get a few chuckles out of those gathered at a memorial service. It also serves as a brilliant reminder to stay positive at a time when it can be difficult to do so.

 

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – The Platters

If you’ve decided on cremation and want to bring a little humour to what would otherwise be a serious and sombre day, there’s possibly no better choice of music than The Platter’s Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. Though some may consider it to be overstepping the mark somewhat, it can also help to raise a smile among those present at the service.

 

Going Deeper Underground – Jamiroquai

A good choice for those that are going to be buried, Jamiroquai’s funky, disco-infused track will go down a storm among those who enjoy a little black humour.

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Nervous About Speaking at a Funeral? Try These Celebrant-Approved Tricks 0

Man looking nervous in church

Standing up to speak at a funeral can be rewarding … and terrifying. 

But in a situation where the advice ‘imagine everyone in the audience naked’ is deeply unhelpful, how do you overcome nervousness and say what you need to say? We asked four celebrants for their advice. 

 

To prepare…

 

writing a funeral speech1) Write your speech down

“Unless you’re really accomplished and used to speaking in public, it’s absolutely essential to write your words down,” says Clive Pashley from Premier Celebrants. Not only will the script keep you on track, but it can be comforting to read your words later on. Otherwise, “you often don’t remember much of it.”

“Do not ad lib,” stresses Yorkshire-based celebrant Adrienne Hodgson-Hoy, citing a vicar who, despite all his experience, repeatedly got the widow’s name wrong during a eulogy. “That’s when things go to pot.” 

 

2) Practise before the funeral

Practice makes perfect. “But not too much,” warns Adrienne, “because you want it to sound natural, rather than stilted.” 

This has two benefits. The first, explains Clive, is emotional. Reading the piece through a few times can take some of the sting out of them.  “The more you read it, the more you deal with those emotions. Then it’s not such a shock on the day.”

The second is to simply rehearse your delivery, and make any last edits. “Get somebody to listen to you practise,” advises Adrienne. “They can give you tips about which points you need to emphasise and when to stop and breathe.”

 

3) Type your final draft out 

Woman types out funeral speechMicrosoft Word is your friend, says Clive, who recommends putting the whole speech in size 16 or 18 font to make it easy to read. Add double spaces after full stops and keep paragraphs to six lines or less.

“If you’ve got just a massive solid body of text, you can easily lose your place,” he explains. “It really hinders the flow of the delivery.”

His final tip? Gobbledegook. “Often, the end of the speech is when you get overcome by emotion. But if you type out a few lines of gobbledegook after your final paragraph, it can trick your brain into thinking there’s more to come, so you don’t well up. I promise you it works!”

 

When the time comes for your funeral speech…

 

4) Breathe in, breathe out

All our celebrants agreed on this: after each full stop, remember to breathe. And take a longer, slower breath at the end of each six line paragraph. Start as you mean to go on:

“Take a deep breath and drop your shoulders,” suggests Kate Mitchell, who acts as a celebrant in the South East. “Then, fix your eyes at the back of the hall – but low, so you’re not looking above people’s heads. The main doors are usually a good point to focus on.

“Place your finger on where you are – if your eyes are blurry it’s easy to lose your place – then look up, smile, take another deep breath and begin.”

“Try to deliberately speak slowly. You might feel like it’s too slow, but it’s really going to be a normal pace.”

5) Pace yourself

“Take your time,” says Kate. When a natural pause comes, use it. “One very good suggestion is to sweep your eyes around everybody regularly,” she adds.

Adrienne agrees, warning against fast, “monotonous” speaking. “At the end of a paragraph when you are taking your breath, look up and make eye contact.”

“When people are anxious and nervous, they speak faster than usual,” explains Clive. “Stand close to the microphone and try to deliberately speak slowly. You might feel like it’s too slow, but it’s really going to be a normal pace.”

 

6) Don’t worry about getting upset

Woman holding a man's hand to give support“The number one thing people worry about is emotion,” says Melanie Sopp, interfaith minister. “The idea that ‘I won’t be able to hold it together and I’ll cry and it will be a mess.’ But it’s natural to be emotional.”

If you do break down, don’t beat yourself up, says Adrienne. “It is emotional and it is difficult – and people will understand that. Just say you’re sorry, take a moment and then continue when you’re ready.”

Kate agrees. “No one’s expecting you to find this easy.  If you start to feel upset, or that you need to stop, do stop. Just take a deep breath and say, ‘I’m finding this very hard.’ Be honest.”

It’s also perfectly normal to ask someone else to step in and finish your speech for you if you do become overwhelmed. “Never be afraid to ask for help,” says Melanie.

 

7) Remember, it’s worth it

Speaking at a funeral can be stressful, but it’s also very rewarding, says Melanie. “If someone thinks that they’d like to do it, then I always encourage them, because I think it can help. It can even be a healthy part of the grieving process.”

Once you’ve made up your mind, “don’t let anyone talk you out of it!” she adds. “If it’s important to you, do it. 

“You’ll never, ever regret it.”

 

And for more inspiration…

Not yet written your funeral speech? Check out our guide on what to say in a eulogy or tribute here. And for inspiration, you can’t beat our piece on funeral speech examples. It’s filled with touching and even funny eulogies from real people.

 


Meet the celebrants

Clive Pashley started Premier Celebrants with his friend, James Greely, in 2016. They were later joined by Rachel Nussey. He and his team offer professional and bespoke funeral service planning across the Midlands.

Rev. Melanie Sopp is a celebrant and interfaith minister, working across the Midlands and the South coast. Melanie runs the excellent Celebrant Academy, which trains celebrants to create ceremonies and lead services of all kinds.

Adrienne Hodgson-Hoy was inspired to become a celebrant after losing her husband. Now, she leads unique, personal funeral services across Hull and East Yorkshire. With a friend, Adrienne runs Memories of Me, a service that allows people to plan their own funeral services.

Kate Mitchell is a creative independent celebrant working in the South East: her stomping grounds include Kent, Surrey and Sussex. As well as funerals, Kate leads thoughtful wedding and baby-naming ceremonies.

7 Tips from Celebrants on Writing a Great Funeral Speech 0

Eulogy examples: a microphone in front of a blurred background

Giving a funeral speech can be a nerve-wracking experience. Public speaking isn’t everyone’s forte — and there’s always the question of what you should (and shouldn’t) say.

So, what makes a great speech at a funeral? We spoke to four experienced celebrants — people who write and deliver eulogies professionally — to get their top tips on writing a funeral speech that feels right.

 

How to write a funeral speech, according to real celebrants

We spoke to Clive, Melanie, Kate and Adrienne for their tips on writing a brilliant funeral speech.

 

  1. writing a funeral speechWork out the length

“A five-minute speech would typically be 600 to 650 words,” says Clive Pashley, from Premier Celebrants. Most people talk at a rate of about 125 words a minute, he explains. But the more nervous you are, the faster you’ll speak.

If you get to choose how long your speech will be, ask for only as much time as you can manage. “Remember: you’re grieving, and the longer you’re up there, the harder it gets,” says Melanie Sopp, celebrant and interfaith minister. “Even two minutes can feel like an eternity.”

 

  1. Choose a topic

“Start by sorting out what the theme is,” says Adrienne Hodgson-Hoy, a celebrant from East Yorkshire. “What do you actually want to get people to understand, what is the whole basis of the speech?”

  • Eulogies are where you tell the life story of the person who has died, from beginning to end.
  • Tributes are typically shorter — 5-minute speeches on a treasured memory, anecdote, or theme from the person’s life.

“When you’re talking about somebody’s life, you talk about their passions: follow what they loved and what their strengths were,” says Kate Mitchell, who leads ceremonies in the South East. Eulogies follow a certain pattern (from birth to death), so it’s simply a case of pulling out those key moments that really reveal something.

For tributes, Melanie recommends writing about “things that mean something to you — whether it’s a personal memory, an anecdote, gratitude, or acknowledging somebody’s courage in the face of a long illness.” Family gatherings, holidays and first meetings are all good starting points for a funeral speech.

The most important thing is to tell the truth as you see it,”

  1. Follow your instincts

Not sure what to say in a funeral speech? Go with your gut.

“Just sit down and write what’s in your head, even if it’s a jumbled mess,” says Melanie. “Then go back through it to revise it and pick out what needs to be said on the day.”

Clive adds: “Don’t second guess yourself. If you think of a memory and it feels right, it’s important to you and it’s something that you shared — and if you think your friend or loved one would like you to share it — then I would go ahead and include it.”

 

  1. Be even-handed

Eulogy examples: a microphone in front of a blurred background

“Make sure your speech is as unbiased as possible,” says Adrienne. “Gather information from different parts of the family, so you actually get an accurate picture of what happened and what [the person who has died] was like.”

To get the information you need for your funeral speech, you may have to put your own opinions to one side. “Don’t be argumentative when you are taking the information, and don’t put your viewpoint first,” Adrienne stresses.

Clive agrees. “Some people use their time at the microphone to try and settle a score or get one up on someone. That’s obviously a real no-no,” he says, adding that such funeral speeches can be “excruciatingly embarrassing.”

 

  1. Be honest — even about the difficult bits

Talking about someone with a complicated or difficult history? All our celebrants agreed on one thing: not to flinch away from talking about it.

Person leaning against a fence by a lakeThe most important thing is to tell the truth as you see it,” says Kate. “To honour the person who has died, you need to talk about who they are, and not what people might want to hear about.”

“That doesn’t mean a litany of things that they did wrong — and it doesn’t have to be the gory details. It’s about telling the truth but being kind.”

“Acknowledge that they did have issues,” says Adrienne. “I lead a funeral service once for someone who was an alcoholic, and the family said that yes, he had issues with alcohol, and he tried to turn away from it, but unfortunately the issue was too big a problem for him to overcome. There are tactful ways of saying these things.”

Honesty can be cathartic. Melanie gave a difficult eulogy for her father and says that the experience was “Liberating. It was an honest account of that relationship. I don’t regret it.”

 

  1. Remember, it’s not all about you

Man and woman at a funeralIf you’re writing a funeral speech after losing a friend or family member, you’re understandably going to be in a lot of emotional pain. But while you should feel open to expressing how you feel, it’s important not to make the speech all about you.

“Just be careful not to make it too centred on yourself, and make sure it really does focus on the person who’s passed away,” says Clive.

When talking about others, specific names also are important, he stresses. “Try to avoid saying ‘we’ or ‘they’ unless it’s obvious who you’re referring to. Otherwise, it can be a little ambiguous and hard to follow.”

 

  1. Don’t be flowery, be specific

A lot of people feel that since a funeral is a serious occasion, funeral speeches should use serious, impressive language. Not so, say our celebrants.

“If their name was David, but they were known as Dave, call them Dave! Keep it personal,” says Adrienne.

“Don’t try and be clever and write flowery phases! Everybody thinks that they need to, but someone isn’t suddenly different because they died,” Kate explains. “If you can be specific, and base your speech on real things that happened, that’s best.”

“The songs you used to listen to together, the ways he used to stir his tea — those are the sorts of details that are specific to that person, and that’s what makes a great eulogy.”

 

For more inspiration…

For more ideas on things to say in a funeral speech, you can’t go wrong with our article on funeral speech examples. It’s filled with touching and sometimes even funny eulogies from real people.

Feeling nervous about an upcoming funeral speech? We followed up with Melanie, Clive, Adrienne and Kate to find out how to overcome your jitters. Check out their tips and tricks here.

 


 Meet the celebrants

Clive Pashley started Premier Celebrants with his friend, James Greely, in 2016. They were later joined by Rachel Nussey. He and his team offer professional and bespoke funeral service planning across the Midlands.

Rev. Melanie Sopp is a celebrant and interfaith minister, working across the Midlands and the South coast. Melanie runs the excellent Celebrant Academy, which trains celebrants to create ceremonies and lead services of all kinds.

Adrienne Hodgson-Hoy was inspired to become a celebrant after losing her husband. Now, she leads unique, personal funeral services across Hull and East Yorkshire. With a friend, Adrienne runs Memories of Me, a service that allows people to plan their own funeral services.

Kate Mitchell is a creative independent celebrant working in the South East: her stomping grounds include Kent, Surrey and Sussex. As well as funerals, Kate leads thoughtful wedding and baby-naming ceremonies.