Brits would rather have ‘celebration of life’ with upbeat music than sombre traditional funerals

Direct cremation with no attended service grew in popularity during the pandemic

Brits would rather have upbeat tracks such as ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’ played at their funeral instead of sombre tunes, new research has found. Affordable Funerals, which led the study, found a shift in the way people want their final send-off to look.

Direct cremation with no attended service had been on the rise in recent years, but has now fallen down the pecking order to be replaced by people wanting a ‘celebration of life’ featuring personalised eulogies, photographs and their favourite music without a religious context or only a very limited one.

The survey found that 50 per cent of those asked would select a celebration of life service, while 20 per cent wanted a traditional religious service and only 13 per cent wanted a direct cremation with no service. When it comes to tunes, the survey found the majority of people would rather have uplifting music (17 per cent) and classic modern tracks such as ‘Let It Be’ by The Beatles (17 per cent) for their own service.

Classical music and gloomy melodies such as ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman (13 per cent) were the least popular genres, the survey found.

Howard Hodgson, CEO of Memoria Affordable Funerals and a fifth-generation funeral director, said: “These findings back up what our customers are already telling us: sombre, traditional Victorian funerals are expensive and increasingly irrelevant. Meanwhile direct cremations, which are much cheaper, don’t allow you to say ‘goodbye’ and leave a loved one to be cremated alone – perhaps hundreds of miles away.

“Direct cremations grew in popularity during the Covid pandemic as for long periods people were unable to attend a service or only in restricted numbers, and then perhaps at the risk of getting a fatal infection.

“The post-pandemic period has seen a shift to where people want to meet in person and have an uplifting service that celebrates the life of the deceased – rather than either a traditional Victorian funeral that can cost up to of £5,000 or an unattended direct cremation at £1,150 where there is no ‘goodbye’. A celebration of life service can cost as little as £1,299, and yet you do get to attend.”

Meanwhile, 14 per cent of respondents said they wanted rock or ‘loud’ music such as Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin played at their funeral. The same number said they would like religious hymns such as Abide With Me. 13 per cent said they would not want songs to be played at their goodbye ceremony, while 19 per cent said they didn’t know or had not thought about it. A further 3 per cent said they preferred not to say.

Mr Hodgson added: “Musical preferences are deeply personal and it’s interesting to see how certain music genres have fallen out of favour in recent years. It used to be the case that funerals were a time for hymns and nothing else. Now people want to play their favourite songs and have a unique, personal service.”


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