When it comes to creating a Great Goodbye, the only music that’s inappropriate are sounds that have nothing to do with the life of the one we’re remembering, or the people saying farewell. The songs and sounds we have loved say something about us – the era we lived in, what stirred and moved us, what brought us joy. Music can transport us and is one of the easiest and most profound ways to personalise a funeral or memorial. 

If there’s time, this might be something to talk with someone about before death occurs. You might be surprised to find your loved one has a deeply personal attachment to a particular piece of music. No, these topics aren’t easy to broach, but you could find that a chat about their song might open up the chance to talk about a raft of important things.

Anything goes when it comes to music. You’ll want to consider certain pieces for specific moments of the service. Think about what to play as the casket arrives, and then again when it leaves. You’ll want several pieces while the photo and video montage is on the screen. You might want to mix recorded songs with something live. A solo guitar or a live band. Maybe gospel singers or the school choir could perform. You could play brassy classics in a garden setting or bring on the bagpipes (and a bottle of scotch).

In spite of the sadness and grief, don’t underestimate the ability of people to step up and perform live at the service. For many the chance for this final gift and tribute means a huge amount, much like the honour others feel being asked to give a eulogy or lead the funeral itself. You’ll find these are some of the most profound and moving Great Goodbye moments.

If you’re hosting a wake afterwards this is a great opportunity to use music to help people connect and remember. Someone might anchor a story with the soundtrack of a favourite band or live concert they shared with the deceased. And if you’d like the Great Goodbye to really have music as it’s a touchstone, print off song sheets of favourite tunes and sing your hearts out.

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