Country music is interwoven with a wide range of emotional highs and lows. Moreover, the lyrics cover different themes, from going to heaven to reflecting on the impact of good people in our lives and more.
So while choosing a funeral song can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if the deceased never mentioned what they might like at their service, country music provides many great choices within the genre. Here are some of the best country funeral songs to consider.
1. “Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill
Guitar prodigy Vince Gill idolized fellow picker Keith Whitley who died tragically at age 33 in 1989. Gill worked on a song about his friend but never fleshed it out. When Gill’s troubled half-brother died in 1993, he pulled the song out and finished it.
Its soaring harmonies and sorrowful lyrics make it perhaps the perfect funeral song, but the lyrics don’t necessarily apply only to troubled souls.
When we leave them behind, we all hope that our loved ones recognize that our work here in this world is done.
While the song wasn’t a huge hit, barely cracking a few Top 20 lists, that didn’t diminish its value as a classy funeral song.
Related: Read our the best country music of all time post here.
2. “The Dance” by Garth Brooks
While some think “The Dance” is about lost love (and sure, on one level, it is), the song more specifically addresses the what-ifs of our lives.
If I had done this, would I have been happier? If I hadn’t done that, would my life have gone better?
Inspired by the events of Kathleen Turner’s 1986 movie “Peggy Sue Got Married,” the song poses the same question the movie does: if you could go back and change one thing, would you?
Brooks points to the great conundrum of such a proposition: if I changed the bad stuff, wouldn’t I also have to lose some of the good?
In other words, the choice between loving someone and suffering the pain of losing them versus never having loved that person.
3. “How Can I Help You To Say Goodbye” by Patty Loveless
Patty Loveless sings a song in which the narrator talks about three great losses in her life, though only one is through death (the narrator’s mother dies as an elderly woman).
But as a song about loss and coping with it, “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye” does the job: life can be tough, we all lose things, and all we can do is move on.
In fact, in the verse about the death of the narrator’s mother, there’s an implication that we, the ones left behind, must say goodbye and move on with our lives.
Loveless’s performance took the song to number three in 1993, and the song remains a classic.
4. “Broken Halos” by Chris Stapleton
“Broken Halos” refers to lives lost too soon. Chris Stapleton wrote it as a tribute to the 14 people who lost their lives in the 2016 Gatlinburg wildfires. It laments the loss of life and the seeming senselessness of it all.
While this might not be the best choice for the funeral of a 104-year-old man, it’s more than apt in the wake of an untimely death.
Stapleton tells us not to look for reasons because there are things we’re not meant to know. And some people can take comfort in that.
5. “Over You” by Miranda Lambert
Lambert wrote this with her then-husband, Blake Shelton, about the death of his older brother. The brother died at age 24 when Shelton was 14.
Lambert later said that she didn’t know this part of her spouse’s life, and the two sat down to write about it.
The result is a song that demands of the departed: how dare they leave? And the answer is that they probably didn’t mean to, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.
The main takeaway is that we, the grieving, will recover from the loss, but it will always be a part of us.
6. “Love, Me” by Collin Raye
An old-fashioned ballad, Collin Raye’s 1991 number hit tells the story of a boy learning about his grandparents’ lives as kids.
The grandfather and his future bride would meet secretly, and if one couldn’t make it, they left a note for the other— when I’m done with what I have to do, I’ll be there, so just wait for me.
When the narrator is a teenager, his grandmother dies, and the grandfather pulls out one of the notes she wrote him years ago.
The sentiment still works as she’s waiting for him on the other side.
7. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones
A song about undying love, Jones’ number one hit tells of a man who never stopped loving his woman until the day he died.
“He Stopped Loving Her Today” because he died. Nothing else could stop his love for her.
In 1980, when the song stormed the charts, Jones was mired in drug and alcohol addiction and feared his career was over.
The song put him back on top, and this is one of those songs that might play at funerals for generations.
8. “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry
In an ode to dying young, the three siblings making up The Band Perry sing about how even if one dies young, it was enough.
They did what they needed to do on earth, and even though they died before we wanted, they still had a good life.
It’s a song that might provide comfort at the funeral of someone who similarly died before what we might think of as their time.
9. “Sissy’s Song” by Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson’s 2009 hit is another about a life lost too soon. He wrote it in the wake of the death of an employee in a motorcycle accident.
He commented to several press outlets that when someone dies after a long life, that’s one thing, but losing someone in the prime of their life is much more difficult.
Jackson sings about how Sissy may be gone, but she’s smiling down on him and walking with her Lord in a better place. As songs of reassurance in the face of grief go, this is a pretty solid one.
10. “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts
The rare song that can work for weddings and funerals, this Rascal Flatts hit outlines some of the same ideas behind Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” that without hard times, the blessings of life as we know it wouldn’t have been possible.
As the song is thankful for the path that led the narrator to his love, it’s an obvious choice for a wedding, but it works for a funeral, as well in that it’s as much a celebration of life as love.
11. “Believe” by Brooks & Dunn
This country duo won awards for Single, Song, and Music Video of the Year at the 2006 CMA Awards with “Believe,” a song telling the story of a boy whose neighbor, Old Man Wrigley, lives with the loss of his wife and child.
Over the years, the boy gets to know the old man who teaches the kid that no matter what losses we endure, faith can help us through.
As a country classic, “Believe” is a well-known song. As a funeral song, it can comfort the grieving with instructions on how to make it through.
12. “Drink a Beer” by Luke Bryan
Luke Bryan didn’t write the song, and country superstar Chris Stapleton didn’t write it for Luke Bryan, but it ended up being a terrific match.
Bryan has weathered the deaths of both of his siblings, so he has an intimate connection with the loss.
The song addresses the pain and bewilderment we experience when we lose someone. It doesn’t offer platitudes about how the departed are in a better place or other trite sentiments that don’t help anyone feel better.
Instead, the narrator simply sits down, watches the sunset, and drinks a beer, which is what he’d have been doing at that moment with his friend if he were still alive.
13. “If Tomorrow Never Comes” by Garth Brooks
This song’s melancholy tone makes it sound like a good funeral song, but the lyrics are fitting as well.
While the narrator doesn’t bemoan the loss of a loved one, he does question whether the people in his life would know how much they’d meant to him if he were to die today.
The second verse finds the narrator revealing that past losses taught him to let everyone in his life know their importance.
It conveys the message of appreciating what we have for the short time we have it.
14. “Who You’d Be Today” by Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney sang about someone lost to death too soon in this 2005 hit that debuted at number 26.
It’s a straightforward song that delves into the unfairness of losing someone before their time.
The kicker is the lingering question we all have when faced with such a loss— what would our loved ones have done, have become, have grown into if they’d had the chance?
More than just a sad song, “Who You’d Be Today” offers the reassurance and hope that, while the loss hurts today, the narrator will see the departed again someday.
15. “You’re Gone” by Diamond Rio
This number four hit for Diamond Rio celebrates the loved ones we’ve all had and lost but who helped us become who we are while they were with us.
So often, in our grief, we focus on the pain of loss. While “You’re Gone” doesn’t discount that pain, the song chooses to hold on to the good things that came before the loss.
It’s a comforting song that tactfully asserts how the lost one was good for us, and it doesn’t gloss over the fact that the person’s absence in our lives isn’t painful. However, there are good memories that stay with us.
16. “Angels in Waiting” by Tammy Cochran
Tammy Cochran’s “Angels in Waiting” made it up to number nine on the country charts and had some crossover success. She wrote it for her two brothers, who died from cystic fibrosis.
While Cochran expresses pain at the loss of the two boys, she holds on to the idea that they now watch over her.
The song is especially poignant in that the idea of the two boys being angels in waiting connotes that they knew they would die too soon.
While this song might not fit every funeral situation, some services would dovetail perfectly with the song’s subject matter.
17. “He Walked on Water” by Randy Travis
One of Randy Travis’ myriad Top Ten hits, 1990’s “He Walked on Water,” tells of the narrator’s memory and adoration of his great-grandfather.
It’s a song about remembering the important ones in our lives and how they influenced our development.
The narrator, as a child, believed what we all believe about the heroes in our lives— they’re invincible and will always be around.
Maturity and experience rob us of those beliefs, but that doesn’t make the losses hurt any worse.
18. “In Color” by Jamey Johnson
Jamey Johnson won Song of the Year for “In Color” in 2009 at both the CMA and ACM awards ceremonies.
It’s a song about looking back over a lifetime as one approaches the end of it. And as a funeral song, it’s suited for someone who lived a long, full life.
The narrator’s elderly relative shows the younger person photos from his life. They’re in black and white, and as the older man remembers the times reflected in each image, his observation that it was even better in color reminds us that all our lost loved ones led lives just as full and meaningful as our own.
19. “Meet Me in Heaven” by Johnny Cash
As near-universal themes of funerals go, the one where we’ll all be together again in whatever afterlife awaits us is pretty popular.
Allegedly, when Cash’s older brother was dying when the two were children, he asked his mother if she would meet him in heaven.
With Cash’s voice— old and grizzled but simultaneously timeless— the song carries a genuine weight, and the sadness of the lyrics consider all the things the lost one and the grieving one shared, all tied together with the idea that they’ll be reunited again someday.
Summing Up Our List Of Country Songs Suitable For Funerals
Funerals are heavy on the mind and heart, but the universal power of music can soften the blow.
These funeral songs reflect country music’s diversity and ability to complement any setting and gently delve into various subjects.
Which songs did we miss off that would be suitable for a funeral? Let us know, and we’ll add it in.