When a loved one dies, it can be challenging to organize a funeral service. Religious songs traditionally feature at funerals, but not all people align with a spiritual practice or faith.
If you’re looking for non-religious funeral songs for a funeral or memorial service, here are atheist funeral songs that convey emotion and sadness without mentioning religion.
“Wind Beneath My Wings” By Bette Midler
Song Year: 1988
In the late 80s, Bette Midler released this song as a lead single for her movie Beaches. In it, her character’s best friend dies tragically.
Maybe this correlation makes the song a familiar rendition at funerals. Or it could be the touching, poignant lyrics that express gratitude and thankfulness for the support and love of someone cherished. This expression is probably what makes it such a fitting tune for funerals and celebrations of life.
“What a Wonderful World” By Louis Armstrong
Song Year: 1967
This iconic classic from R&B legend Louis Armstrong calls on listeners to appreciate the beauty of life in all its splendor.
It has an optimistic message that can be uplifting during times of grief and sorrow surrounding a death. No matter how tough things are and no matter how dark the road ahead might seem, there is always a reason to hope and celebrate life.
This simple song is a wonderful reminder of what we still have to live for, even when we have to say goodbye to someone dear.
“It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To Yesterday” By Boyz II Men
Song Year: 1991
This emotional ballad puts into words how difficult it is to say goodbye to our loved ones when our time together in life is cut short.
Though it is hard to part with these beloved people in our lives, this song talks about how holding onto memories of the good times is a balm for the soul when faced with such tremendous losses.
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” By Simon & Garfunkel
Song Year: 1969
Though this Simon & Garfunkel classic is based on gospel music, it doesn’t mention any specific religious overtones. Instead, it talks about how life can get turbulent and out of control, like a rush of “troubled” water below our feet.
The song’s comforting words can almost feel like a promise from your loved one. Their memory will act as a safe place to wait out the turbulence and pain of life, a bridge to the other side of the grief and sorrow you may be experiencing.
“Candle in the Wind” By Elton John
Song Year: 1973
Elton John performed this famous song in memory of the glamorous movie star Marilyn Monroe. The metaphor of a candle in the wind represents her life.
In 1997 after the death of Princess Diana, the lyrics were reworked, and Elton John played it live for her televised funeral.
It is a beautiful song, and though it references Norma Jean and Marilyn, it can still resonate with mourning loved ones who miss their dearly departed friends and family members after a loss.
“My Way” By Frank Sinatra
Song Year: 1969
If someone in your life passes away who was unapologetically true to themselves while they lived, this song acts as a perfect anthem to celebrate their lives.
In the hugely popular song by the legend Frank Sinatra, the lyrics tell a story of a person at the end of their life who can look back on it without regret because they lived a life true to themselves and their ideas.
It is almost triumphant in its message of perseverance and taking on life on your terms, no matter what the world throws at you.
“Smile” By Nat King Cole
Song Year: 1954
When someone dear to you leaves this life, joy and laughter can feel like the most alien reactions in the world. But chances are your loved ones would not want you to forget to smile when you can.
Sometimes people telling us to cheer up in our darkest moments can be triggering, but there is something about Cole’s sweet voice that helps soothe your nerves and maybe can put a smile on your face.
This option is one of the best non-religious funeral songs to remind everyone that even though life and loss can be incredibly painful, you must never forget to smile and seek out the happiness your existence has to offer.
“Dust In The Wind” By Kansas
Song Year: 1977
This philosophical song touches on themes of moving on, letting go, and the inevitability of death.
It is a gentle composition, and the lyrics put into perspective how our lives are almost insignificant in the greater scheme of the universe. When facing grief and mortality, it can be hard to grasp. But this song helps us to remember that everything ends, even the lives of those we love deeply.
One day we will pass as well, and there is no reason to wallow in that fact because it is an intrinsic truth for all.
“I Hope You Dance” By Lee Anne Womack
Song Year: 2000
This uplifting track was released by Lee Ann Womack 23 years ago, but it still resonates with those grieving a loved one today.
It almost acts as a love letter from our loved ones who have passed, asking us to never take life for granted and to live it to the fullest.
This song is a fantastic reminder that we must live our lives without regret and experience all that it has to offer, good or bad.
“My Heart Will Go On” By Celine Dion
Song Year: 1997
This smash hit song from the Titanic soundtrack is one of the most recognizable songs in the world. It is also a wonderful song to remind us how our friends and loved ones remain with us in our hearts even when they are no longer here on Earth.
Dion sings of how, even after death, we can dream about them and relive our memories with them, keeping them safe in our hearts forever despite the distance of time, space, and even death.
The love in our hearts does not die, so those we cherish live on with us forever and ever.