Best Songs for Parents Funeral

What are the best songs for a parent’s funeral or memorial service?

At some point in our lives, we come to accept that we will have to face the death of one or both of our parents. But that acceptance does little to prepare us for when the time actually arrives. The loss of a parent or grandparent can be devastating. Sometimes it’s only time that can help us heal…but music can help too. The songs you choose for their funeral or memorial service can help the healing process begin-  not just for you but for others as well.

The list below contains some of the more favored and appropriate songs that can be played at a funeral or memorial service for a parent. Whether you are a son or daughter or whether it was your mother or father who passed away, there are songs here for you. For your convenience, we have compiled the songs in a playlist, making it easy for you to listen to a sample or purchase a song. Additional information about each song, including significant verses and choruses, is provided below the playlist.

Baby Girl Window

Robbie Williams wrote and performed this song as a tribute to his former girlfriend’s father Richard Beckinsale, a comic actor who had died of a heart attack at the age of 31. The song encompasses how the daughter feels about the loss of her father and how he is still watching over her (through her window). It has a medium tempo with a lot of guitar.

Significant Verse:

I wish you would stay
to see what she made of herself
People say you were gone too soon
I see your face when flowers bloom
Through her window
Your baby girl’s window

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Dance with My Father

Luther Vandross wrote this song with the help of Richard Marx. It was written as a tribute to his late father. Sadly, it is one of the last songs that Vandross recorded before he died of a stroke. The song has appeared on several tribute albums to Vandross. Celine Dion also included it as a tribute to her own father on one of her albums.

Chorus:

If I could steal one final glance, one final step, one final dance with him
I’d play a song that would never, ever end
‘Cause I’d love, love, love
To dance with my father again

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Everything I Own

David Gates wrote this song about his father, after he had passed away. According to Gates, the lines ” You sheltered me from harm, kept me warm / gave my life to me, set me free,” are the most significant lines in the song and summarize how he feels about his father. The lyrics are generic enough that it could be used to talk about any type of relationship. However, my favorite line is “I will give everything I own / Just to have you back again.” It is performed by the band Bread.

Significant Verse:

You taught me how to love,
What its all, all above
You never said too much
But still you showed the way
In my new, I’m watching you
Nobody else will ever know
The part of me that can’t let go

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Goodbye’s the Saddest Word

Celine Dion sings this song about a mother’s love for her child and vice versa. More importantly, the song talks about how hard it will be once the mother is gone. The best line in the song has to be “Now I know there is no other / Love like a mother’s love for her child.”

Chorus:

Goodbye’s the saddest word I’ll ever hear
Goodbye’s the last time I will hold you near
Someday you’ll say that word and I will cry
It’ll break my heart to hear you say goodbye

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Hero

This classic song is a favorite of many people. Few could ever sing it as beautifully as Mariah Carey does–although some have tried. There are several songs with the same title with different lyrics. We’ve given this song a prominent place on this page because of the line in they lyrics that says “You can find love / If you search within yourself / And the emptiness you felt / Will disappear.”

Chorus:

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

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Landslide

Originally a hit for Fleetwood Mac, the Dixie Chicks also recorded this song as well as performed it at the 2003 Grammy Awards. The song has to do with a father-daughter relationship and was written by Stevie Nicks shortly before she joined Fleetwood Mac. The lyrics are generic enough that it could represent almost any type of relationship.

Significant Verse:

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older, too

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Like a River

“Like a River” is performed by Carly Simon. The song takes the form of a daughter’s letter to her mother. The letter tells the mother about all that has gone on since her death as well as wondering what her mother is up to now. Most of all, the song talks about the comfort the daughter finds in knowing that she will see her mother again after she dies. One of the most touching lines in the song has to be this one, “Last night I swear I could feel you / Moving through my room / And I thought you touched my feet.”

Chorus:

I’ll wait no more for you like a daughter,
That part of our life together is over
But I will wait for you, forever
Like a river…

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Little Willow

This song was written by Paul McCartney about Ringo Starr’s first wife, who died of cancer. He wrote the song to comfort her children. This song is typical of many of Paul McCartney songs and is reminiscent of “Hey Jude,” but a little bit more sentimental.

Significant Verse:

Sleep, little willow,
Peace gonna follow,
Time will heal your wounds.

Grow to the heavens,
Now and forever,
Always came too soon.

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My Angel

Performed by former American Idol contestant Kellie Pickler, this song talks about her feelings about the loss of her grandmother. Some of the lines specifically talk about how she was raised by her grandmother, so this song may not be appropriate for every type of funeral. Probably the best lines in the song include “Even though I can’t touch your face / I feel you with me every day / I wish you could see all my dreams coming true.”

Chorus:

You were like my mother
You were my best friend
You were everything I want to be
And all the good inside of me
There’s never been
Never been another
That loved me like you did
My grandmother, my angel

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My One True Friend

Bette Midler performs this song as part of the soundtrack for “One True Thing.” The movie tells the story of a woman who is forced to take care of her mother, who is dying from cancer. The song, which is played over the closing credits, sort of summarizes the feelings of a child who now realizes the true nature of a parent-child relationship. It also talks about forgiveness and friendship. If you are looking for a song to represent a tumultuous relationship, consider this one. My favorite line in the song, “For all, all the times you closed your eyes, / allowing me to stumble or to be surprised, / by life, with all its twists and turns. I made mistakes, you always knew that I would learn.”

Significant Verse:

Though love may break, it never dies
It changes shape, through changing eyes
What I denied, I now can see
You always were the light inside of me

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One More Day

This song is performed by Diamond Rio. The lyrics talk about what everyone would like after a loved one has gone — one more day — and what he would do with that added time. Diamond Rio is a country group and this song has a slight country feel.

Chorus:

One more day, one more time
One more sunset, maybe I’d be satisfied
But then again
I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still, for one more day with you

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Passing Through

This song was written and is performed by Ronan Tynan (although there are other songs with the same name). He wrote it for his mother who was diagnosed with Alzeihmer’s disease. If you don’t know Keating’s story, it’s very moving as is this song. He is also one of the Irish Tenors, so his style is very classical.

Significant Lyrics:

Now I love her and I miss her
She’s the one who gave me life
She’s the one who made the boy and the man
But her strength runs within me
Like the day she made me stand
Put some courage in your dreaming
Carve your footprints in the sand

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Passing Through

This song is performed by Mark Erelli, Catie Curtis and several others. Mark Erelli has a very unique voice which gives the song a folksy feel to it while Curtis gives the song a more country sound. There are several songs with the same name (such as the one listed above) so be careful before you purchase one of them–it may not be the same one.

Significant Lyrics:

We are passing this world on to our kids
From the moment that they climb out of their cribs
We try to teach them well
And show them they are loved
But in the end all we can do
Is hope our best is good enough

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Shine On

Nic Cester wrote this song about the death of his father in an effort to comfort his family. The song takes the viewpoint of his father, reassuring the family that things will be okay. The music and tempo are somewhat fast, but the sensitive lyrics make up for it. The song is performed by JET.

Significant Verse:

When the days all feel the same
Don’t feel the cold or wind or rain
Everything will be okay
We will meet again one day

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The Greatest Man I Never Knew

Richard Leigh, who also wrote “Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue, wrote this song. It is performed by Reba McEntire. The song talks about the relationship between a child and his/her father, or rather the lack of relationship between them. The last line sums it up the best “He never said he loved me / Guess he thought I knew.”

Significant Verse:

The greatest man I never knew
Came home late every night
He never had too much to say
Too much was on his mind
I never really knew him
And now it seems so sad
Everything he gave to us took all he had

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This Woman’s Work

Kate Bush wrote “This Woman’s Work” for the movie She’s Having A Baby for a sequence where Kevin Bacon’s character is waiting helplessly while his wife is having complications while giving birth. The song is written from the man’s perspective. The song goes through all the emotions a husband would have as he faces the prospect that his wife might die. The song has also been recorded by Maxwell; however the links below are for the Kate Bush version.

Significant Verse:

Of all the things we should’ve said,
That were never said
All the things we should’ve done,
That we never did
All the things that you needed from me
All the things that you wanted for me
All the things that I should’ve given,
But I didn’t

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Wind Beneath My Wings

Anyone who has ever seen the movie Beaches can understand why this is a favorite song for funerals. The song encompasses the theme of the movie–enduring friendship, love and support. It is the most commonly played song at funerals. Midler also sang this song on Johnny Carson’s last show. While Bette Midler’s version is the most popular, a number of other artists have recorded their own versions of it.

Significant Lyrics:

Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
for you are the wind beneath my wings.

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Wishing You were Somehow Here Again

Andrew Lloyd Weber wrote this song for Phantom of the Opera. As a long time fan of the original production, it is hard for me to accept anyone else singing this song except for Sara Brightman. Nevertheless, several other singers have performed this song as well. This song should only be used if you are planning on having taped music or have a very powerful soloist. One brief note, the lyrics make a brief reference that the person gone was “once a friend and father.”

Significant Verse:

Wishing you were somehow here again
Knowing we must say goodbye
Try to forgive, teach me to live
Give me the strength to try

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You’re Missing

Bruce Springsteen sings this song about a man who has lost his wife. In the song he talks about all the things that are the same except for the fact that she is not there. It is obvious from the lyrics that the wife was still young when she died as it says “Children are asking if it’s alright / Will you be in our arms tonight?

Significant Verse:

Pictures on the nightstand, TV’s on in the den
Your house is waiting, your house is waiting
For you to walk in, for you to walk in
But you’re missing, when I shut out the lights
You’re missing, when I close my eyes
You’re missing, when I see the sun rise
You’re missing

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A few other songs you might consider:

“Thank You” performed by Ray Boltz

I dreamed I went to heaven
And you were there with me;
We walked upon the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea.
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name.

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“To Where You Are” performed by Josh Groban, Chloe Agnew, Lorraine Shannon, or Kristy Starling

Fly me up to where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile to know you’re there
A breath away’s not far
To where you are

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“You’ll Be in My Heart” performed by Phil Collins

For one so small,
you seem so strong
My arms will hold you,
keep you safe and warm
This bond between us
Can’t be broken
I will be here
Don’t you cry

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