15 Powerful Celebration of Life Songs
Someone special came into your life and made it better. That person deserves to be celebrated. One of the best ways to honor your loved one is with celebration of life songs.
A celebration of life is an alternative for the traditional funeral service. These celebrations focus on celebrating the life of someone who has recently passed away rather than mourning. They are typically upbeat, more casual, and try to bring together loved ones over positive bonding and memories. We often use celebration of life songs to make these services more meaningful and cathartic.
If you’ve decided to plan a celebration of life service for someone you’ve lost, you might be wondering how to make things feel personal. You’re not alone! Planning a memorial service of any kind takes a lot of thought and care.
A great way to personalize a celebration of life service is through music. The best celebration of life songs are those that remind those present to do just as the name implies: celebrate life. Positive and uplifting music can be incredibly healing and bring up a lot of pleasant memories.
After all, death can be a reminder of the ethereal beauty of life. Your loved one would want you to be grateful for the time you spent together- and music is one of life’s greatest gifts.
But what are the best celebration of life songs? You may find it extra special to choose songs or artists that were important to your late loved one if you can. If not, or if you need ideas for more music, we’ve compiled a list of 15 great options.
Below you’ll find our picks, a brief breakdown, and links to listen to each song. Don’t be afraid to be creative, though – feel free to let these ideas inspire your own!
15 Meaningful and Powerful Celebration of Life Songs
Celebration of Life Songs for Funeral:
These picks are great for not just a celebration of life, but a more traditional funeral or memorial service. Their versatility makes them a good option for just about anyone in your life.
1. Somewhere Over The Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
If you’re familiar with The Wizard of Oz, then you’ll instantly recognize the familiar rhythm of this uplifting cover. Not only is it full of positive imagery and emotion, it celebrates the beauty of life and the world itself. This song is perfect for just about anyone, whether it be a family member or a friend.
During this time of grief and loss, allow yourself to remember and appreciate the beautiful things in life that you were once able to share with your deceased friend or family member.
2. What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
You don’t have to be a jazz lover to know this song. Like our previous pick, this song reminds us that life is not just beautiful, but meaningful. It also might provoke positive and comforting memories of the deceased.
It might seem counterintuitive to try and remember that life is wonderful when you’re feeling the burden of a lost life. But it’s important to remember that you want to celebrate life for yourself and for the one you have lost.
When you listen to this song, take little moments to be grateful for the time you shared with this person, and what a gift their presence was.
3. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
If this song fills you with nostalgia of days past, you’re not alone. A top pick for funeral and memorial services of all types, this tune reminds us to focus on the good experiences and times that the deceased had experienced in life.
It’s also a great song to dance to, if you’d like! Dancing can be cathartic and freeing. Dedicate a dance to the memory of the one you’ve lost.
4. Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
You’ve shared good times with a very special person, and the sun will come out again. This pick is great if you’re looking for a way to remind yourself or others to have hope for the future. After you’ve lost someone, you might feel like you can’t or don’t know how to go on. Hope is an incredibly powerful gift in these moments.
5. Halo – Beyoncé
This song is a top pick not just for memorials and funerals, but also to represent those who struggle from chronic illness. A song about your angel’s halo can remind you that now, they are free from pain.
You and your loved ones might find it especially healing to think of someone you have lost in a better place and to remember all of their wonderful, unique qualities.
Celebration of Life Songs for a Partner/Spouse:
These picks are especially meaningful if you or others are mourning the loss of a romantic partner or of a spouse.
6. Happy Together – The Turtles
A classic for a reason, this song is a great pick if you’ve lost a romantic partner or know someone who has. Not only is it upbeat and fun to listen to, but it also makes us remember all of the special moments we’ve experienced with someone we love. It also reminds us of just how much we love and are loved. Think of your loved one reunited with the people that they’ve lost, celebrating along with you in a happier place.
7. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
No one reminds us that there are others out there waiting to support us like this song does. It might also be a good option for a lost relationship or friendship, as it reminds us that even if we can’t be with our loved ones in person, a part of them will always stick with us.
8. Something About The Way You Look Tonight – Elton John
This song makes the list of great celebration of life songs for mom. It’s all about appreciating someone’s beauty, both internal and external, which also makes it meaningful for romantic relationships. The beautiful instrumentals will bring you comfort no matter what.
9. Only You (And You Alone) – The Platters
This choice is another great one for remembering a lost love. It is slower and more subdued than some of our other picks, but its slow, swaying beat can be very relaxing and inspire a lot of great reflection or memories.
10. Close to You- The Carpenters
This song reminds us that we will find symbols in life that remind us of this person forever. Birds in the sky, stars at night, and quiet moments will always leave you thinking of the sweet memories you shared with the one you lost.
Celebration of Life Songs for Mom (or Dad):
These joyful picks inspire us to remember all the fun and positive experiences we’ve shared with family members. They’re great ways to celebrate what we love about our parents – support, love, and neverending memories.
11. Dancing Queen – ABBA
If you’re trying to think of more celebration of life songs for mom, look no further. This song is a great way to remember someone’s positive and fun experiences during life and youth.
Don’t be afraid to get on your feet to this one – it is a celebration, after all!
12. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
This song is incredibly fun, lighthearted, and sweet. It’s a great pick for any woman or girl, but of course is extra special if she indeed had brown eyes! Regardless, this track is a great pick to lift the spirits of everyone in attendance.
13. Unforgettable – Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole
If you’re looking to add some slower selections to your list, this song is amazing. For many, few things are more comforting and nostalgia-inducing than the voice of Nat King Cole and similar artists. This song in particular is likely to remind you of all of the wonderful qualities about the person you’ve lost.
14. Fire and Rain- James Taylor
This may be one of the most powerful celebration of life songs for all kinds of loved ones.
Everything in life is temporary. But something about love feels infinite. In this song, James Taylor expresses that feeling when he says, “I always thought that I’d see you again.”
Life comes with highs and lows. Lonely times, sunny days, fire and rain, but through all that time we can hold onto the belief that there are people who, someday, we will see again.
15. You are my Sunshine- Johnny Cash
This song holds tremendous sentimental value. The people we love are like sunshine in our lives, and they have the power to make us “happy when skies are gray.” What better way to celebrate this person than to celebrate all the love and light that they represented?
An important thing to remember throughout the entire process of planning a celebration of life is to celebrate. This is something that might seem easier said than done, but grief and gratitude go hand in hand. It is better to have known this person then later lost them than it would be to have never known them.
Be sure to do your best to create an environment that promotes positive healing, but also remember that you are human. Ask for help if you need it from both family and friends.
No matter what happens or what you choose, remember to take care of yourself just as you’d take care of a loved one. And most of all, give yourself the time you need to heal, both in and outside of your celebration of life.
For more information and advice about end of life care and end of life plans, click here.