60+ Modern Songs for a Funeral or Memorial Slideshow


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As belief systems and priorities evolve, funeral practices begin to shift as well. Lately, some people have personalized song choices for funeral services and even holding virtual or Zoom funerals to remember their loved ones. So instead of selecting older, religious songs, they opt for more modern selections.

Jump ahead to these sections: 

There are many contemporary funeral songs to consider for your service. This list will help you narrow down the best songs about death as you curate a playlist. 

For more help with planning a funeral and other details you might be dealing with after a death, check out our post-loss checklist

COVID-19 tip: If you chose to use a virtual funeral using a service like GatheringUs, make sure online guests can hear the music during the memorial slideshow or service. If you don't have the tech to do so, consider making a digital playlist and sending it to your guests along with Spotify gift cards beforehand as a unique funeral service favor.

Modern Funeral Songs for a Child or Young Person

Example of a modern funeral song for a child over an image of a person playing the guitar

The prospect of seeing a young person die before they’ve had the chance to live is difficult. These songs sensitively explore that subject matter.

Here are some beautiful modern funeral songs for a child:

  • "If I Die Young" from The Band Perry
  • "A Mother's Prayer" from K. Michelle
  • "Tears in Heaven" from Eric Clapton
  • "Over the Rainbow" from Eva Cassidy
  • "Fly" from Celine Dion
  • "Angel" from Sarah McLachlan
  • "Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel" from Billy Joel
  • "Who You'd Be Today" from Kenny Chesney
  • "Forever Young" from Rod Stewart
  • "Child of Mine" from Carole King
  • "Fix You" from Coldplay
  • "Smallest Wingless" from Craig Cardiff
  • "There You’ll Be" from Faith Hill
  • "Blessed" from Elton John
  • "A Mother’s Prayer" from Celine Dion
1. “If I Die Young” from The Band Perry 

This sweet but sad contemporary country song muses on the pain that accompanies a life cut too short.

2. “A Mother’s Prayer” from K. Michelle

This song about a mother’s wishes for her child is a poignant selection for a child’s memorial service. 

3. “Tears in Heaven” from Eric Clapton

Clapton wrote this intensely personal song to help him deal with the grief of losing his young son. 

4. “Over the Rainbow” from Eva Cassidy

Cassidy’s interpretation of this familiar track is wistful and sweet. 

5. “Fly” from Celine Dion

Dion dedicated this song (about someone finally being free from pain) to her niece, who died young from cystic fibrosis.

6. “Angel” from Sarah McLachlan

When a child dies, it brings a lot of people comfort to imagine them with angels. 

7. “Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel)” from Billy Joel

The artist wrote this lullaby to celebrate the birth of his daughter, but the lyrics also resonate in the context of a child’s funeral. 

8. “Who You’d Be Today” from Kenny Chesney

This song laments the experiences of life that someone who dies young will never get to have.

9. “Forever Young” from Rod Stewart

This song perfectly encapsulates the way we always keep our children in our memories.

10. “Child of Mine” from Carole King

The prolific singer-songwriter penned this ode to her son, and the melancholy tone of her voice belies the joyful lyrics.  

11. “Fix You” from Coldplay

This track, written after the death of a family member, expresses the sadness we feel when we can’t save them. 

12. “Smallest Wingless” from Craig Cardiff

This song about experiencing a miscarriage or stillbirth captures the moment when joy turns to grief. 

13. “There You’ll Be” from Faith Hill

This hopeful song reminds us that even after death, love doesn’t go away. 

14. “Blessed” from Elton John

This song is all about the blessings we wish for our children, even if they’re only with us for a short time. 

15. “A Mother’s Prayer” from Celine Dion

Most of the modern songs on this list are secular, but this touching ballad is about a mother’s hope that God will always carry us. 

Which songs do you want to be played at your funeral?

Whether you choose Biggie or Norah Jones⁠, let your loved ones know. Create a free Cake end-of-life planning profile and share your wishes instantly.

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Modern Funeral Songs for a Parent or Grandparent

Parents and grandparents hold important roles in most people’s lives, so it’s important to pick out the perfect funeral songs for them.  You can also check out our picks for popular funeral songs for grandma.

Here are 15 touching modern funeral songs for a parent or grandparent:

  • "I Will Remember You" from Sarach McLachlan
  • "You Raise Me Up" from Josh Groban
  • "Goodbye's The Saddest Word" from Celine Dion
  • "Hero" from Mariah Carey
  • "Time to Say Goodbye/Con Te Partiro" from Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli
  • "Two of Us" from Louis Tomlinson
  • "Wind Beneath My Wings" from Bette Midler
  • "Angel Standing By" from Jewel
  • "Because You Loved Me" from Celine Dion
  • "You Are the Reason" from Calum Scott
  • "When September Ends" from Green Day
  • "Magic" from Ben Folds Five
  • "My Heart Will Go On" from Celine Dion
  • "Only Time" from Enya
  • "The Story" from Brandi Carlile
16. “I Will Remember You” from Sarah McLachlan

This funeral song carries the message most parents would want to send their kids: Miss me but don’t let it stop you from continuing to live your best life. 

17. “You Raise Me Up” from Josh Groban

Parents and grandparents support us like no one else and these heartfelt lyrics are a perfect tribute. 

18. “Goodbye’s The Saddest Word” from Celine Dion

This ethereal track is a lovely tribute to the grandmother or mother who raised you. 

19. “Hero” from Mariah Carey

Parents and grandparents are often our heroes and this ballad shows our respect for them.

20. “Time To Say Goodbye/Con Te Partiro” from Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli

This soaring duet about saying good-bye is a fitting choice for a memorial service or funeral.

21. “Two Of Us” from Louis Tomlinson

This solo track was written in honor of the singer’s late mother. 

22. “Wind Beneath My Wings” from Bette Midler

Midler wasn’t the first person to sing this song, but her iconic version is associated with funerals.

23. “Angel Standing By” from Jewel

Jewel’s crystalline soprano voice wavers but never breaks on this sweetly sad lullaby.

24. “Because You Loved Me” from Celine Dion

Dion thanks a loved one for all they’ve done to help her. It’s an appropriate song for the death of a parent or grandparent. 

25. “You Are The Reason” from Calum Scott

The warmth of this arrangement makes this song ideal for an uplifting celebration of life ceremony.

26. “When September Ends” from Green Day

This song is about the lead singer’s late father and sums up how loss makes us want to hide until the pain is more bearable. 

27. “Magic” from Ben Folds Five

This somber tune is suited for a ceremony for someone who has passed away after a long illness.

28. “My Heart Will Go On” from Celine Dion

This dramatic love song was an instant classic because it’s so relatable to anyone who has loved and lost someone. 

29. “Only Time” from Enya

This ethereal track is the perfect poignant blend of uplifting and melancholy.

30. “The Story” from Brandi Carlile

This song talks about the lengths we go to in order to spend our lives with the people we care about. 

Modern Funeral Songs for a Spouse or Partner

Example of a modern funeral song for a spouse over an image of a record player

It’s difficult to think of the perfect song to include in a service for your spouse. Some people choose a song that has deep personal meaning, like the song they first danced to at their wedding. Others opt for something that’s not tied to happier memories.

Keep your partner's memory close with one of these songs. You may also find it comforting to have some sort of physical reminder, like a cremation diamond, made in memory of them.

Here are 10 moving modern funeral songs for a spouse or partner:

  • "Shallow" from Pentatonix
  • "Someone You Loved" from Lewis Capaldi
  • "If You Want Love" from NF
  • "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" from Death Cab for Cutie
  • "The Best I Ever Had" from Gary Allan
  • "Lay Me Down" from Sam Smith
  • "A Thousand Years" from Christina Perri
  • "Please Remember Me" from Tim McGraw
  • "So Long, Marianne" from Leonard Cohen
  • "Fields of Gold" from Eva Cassidy
31. “Shallow” from Pentatonix

The quintet usually performs a cappella, but this arrangement adds in the cello for an extra layer.

32. “Someone You Loved” from Lewis Capaldi

This song is a little melancholy at the beginning, but by the end, it crescendos into a wave of emotions. 

33. “If You Want Love” from NF

This introspective track conveys the bittersweet premise that you can’t experience love without pain.

34. “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” from Death Cab for Cutie

This simple song features the message that you don’t have to be afraid to go into the unknown of the afterlife — one day your partner will find you.   

35. “The Best I Ever Had” from Gary Allan 

Allan’s gravelly voice has never sounded more emotional than in this song that he recorded to honor his late wife.

36. “Lay Me Down” from Sam Smith

This mournful lament beautifully conveys the ache that you feel when the other side of the bed is empty.

37. “A Thousand Years” from Christina Perri

This sweet ballad is about an enduring love that lasts longer than life itself.

38. “Please Remember Me” from Tim McGraw

The genuine emotion in this song transcends genre.  

39. “So Long, Marianne” from Leonard Cohen

This song dedicated to Cohen’s longtime girlfriend remains one of the saddest and most romantic songs of all time.  

40. “Fields of Gold” from Eva Cassidy

This cover of a Sting song is sad and evocative and calls to mind gold-drenched memories. 

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Modern Funeral Songs for a Friend

Friends often become our chosen family. That means you want to put as much care into picking out songs for their service as you would for your own family.

Here are 10 poignant modern funeral songs for a friend:

  • "Jealous" from Josh Daniel
  • "One Sweet Day" from Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men
  • "I'll Be Missing You" from Puff Daddy
  • "Hear You Me" from Jimmy Eat World
  • "See You Again" from Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth
  • "Lost" from Dermot Kennedy
  • "Ride" from Cary Brothers
  • "Stars" from Grace Potter and The Nocturnals
  • "Waves" from Dean Lewis
  • "Courtney's Song" from James Blunt
41. “Jealous” from Josh Daniel

This interpretation of a Labrinth track turned a love song into a touching tribute to a friend who passed away.

42. “One Sweet Day” from Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men

This timeless song celebrates the thought of reuniting with loved ones in heaven. 

43. “I’ll Be Missing You” from Puff Daddy

This paean to friendship remains as touching as the day it was released.

44. “Hear You Me” from Jimmy Eat World

This sweet song is a personal ode to fans who became friends.

45. “See You Again” from Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth

Puth’s undeniably catchy hook resonates with anyone who has suddenly lost a friend. 

46. “Lost” from Dermot Kennedy

This gritty contemporary pop song is all about resilience and self-reliance.

47. “Ride” from Cary Brothers

This moody, evocative indie pop gem is the perfect song for a friend who was always there for you. 

48. “Stars” from Grace Potter and The Nocturnals 

When you lose someone, sometimes it feels like everything reminds you of them. These lyrics capture that feeling perfectly. 

49. “Waves” from Dean Lewis

This atmospheric pop song ably uses the imagery of being pulled in and out on the tide as a metaphor for grief.

50. “Courtney’s Song” from James Blunt

This lovely lament of a song was written in honor of Blunt’s late friend, the great Carrie Fisher. 

Modern Funeral Songs for a Pet

Example of a modern funeral song for a pet over an image of musical intruments

Pets are often like family. In fact, many younger people vow to stay child-free for economic and environmental reasons and adopt pets instead. People who look at their pets as surrogate children sometimes choose to curate the purr-fect playlist for their pet’s funeral or memorial service. 

Here are several modern funeral songs for a pet to give you some ideas:

  • "Goodbye My Friend" from Linda Ronstadt
  • "Old King" from Neil Young
  • "Little Boys Grow Up and Dogs Get Old" from Luke Bryan
  • "Delilah" from Queen
  • "Cracker Jack" from Dolly Parton
  • "I Will Always Be With You" from Sheena Easton and Jesse Corti
  • "The Puppy Song" from Harry Nilsson
  • "Man of the Hour" from Norah Jones
  • "The More Boys I Meet" from Carrie Underwood
  • "Bronte" from Gotye
51. “Goodbye My Friend” from Linda Ronstadt

This ballad about a lost dog, from one of the most accomplished singer-songwriters of her generation, evokes deep feelings.

52. “Old King” from Neil Young

This folksy jaunt from the prolific rock and roll artist is a joyous retelling of the adventures man and dog had together.   

53. “Little Boys Grow Up and Dogs Get Old” from Luke Bryan

This contemporary country tune is about the joys of growing up with a pet and the sadness of realizing you’ll outlive them. 

54. “Delilah” from Queen

Any cat lover can relate to Freddie Mercury’s compulsion to turn his love for his cat Delilah into a jaunty, synthy tribute tune. 

55. “Cracker Jack” from Dolly Parton

Love is all about what’s on the inside, even when it comes to dogs.  

56. “I Will Always Be With You” from Sheena Easton and Jesse Corti

This song is from “All Dogs Go to Heaven II” and is truly moving. 

57. “The Puppy Song” from Harry Nilsson

Include this upbeat tribute to happy-go-lucky puppies for a celebration of life service.

58. “Man of the Hour” from Norah Jones

This quirky tongue-in-cheek bluesy tune by Norah Jones about how Ralph the poodle is the only man she needs in her life will lighten any mood. 

59. “The More Boys I Meet” from Carrie Underwood

Like Norah Jones, Carrie Underwood has a song about how canine companions are often much better than boyfriends. 

60. “Bronte” from Gotye

Gotye brings his sensitive indie-pop possibilities to this song about an elderly dog’s last moments with her family.

» MORE: Your family has 500 hours of work to do after you die. Learn how to make it easier.

Choosing the Perfect Song

Picking out funeral songs for your mom is very different than picking out funeral songs for your spouse, child, or pet. You want to do right by your loved ones and pick the perfect song that sums up your relationship with them. Let this list guide you as you pick a meaningful song to dedicate to the family member, friend, or pet you loved so much.

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