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'WIBTA if I play the song my mom chose for her funeral? It might offend some attendees.' UPDATED 2X

'WIBTA if I play the song my mom chose for her funeral? It might offend some attendees.' UPDATED 2X


Is it better to fully honor the dead at a funeral, or focus on the experiences of the living attendees?

"WIBTA if I play the song that my mom chose for her funeral, knowing it might offend some attendees?"

My mom recently passed away, and our family (primarily me) are making the arrangements for the upcoming funeral. My mom always had a really excellent sense of humor, and before she passed she told not only me but all of the palliative care staff at the hospital that the song she wanted played at her funeral was “Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead” from The Wizard of Oz.

(I managed to at least talk her out of the soundtrack version sung by the Munchkins and got her to agree to the classier jazz version by Ella Fitzgerald.) Now, I agree with my mom that this would be a really funny thing to play at a funeral and would showcase her sense of humor to a tee.

However, I’m also VERY aware that not everyone that’s going to come to the funeral is going to take the joke in the same spirit, and I think that some of the more religious friends and family members might be extra upset because there’s a certain repeated line that implies she’s going to h*ll.

Plus, we’re explicitly having a non-religious service and one of said family members has already expressed disappointment with that. So on the one hand I think it’s my mom’s funeral and I should respect her wishes above anyone else’s opinions.

But on the other hand I realize that funerals are for the living, and it’s pretty disrespectful to do something that’s going to upset those actually in attendance when obviously my mom isn’t going to know one way or the other.

WIBTA if I still play the song my mom picked? (If it matters my alternate choice would be Landslide by Fleetwood Mac, which was her favorite song and what we all listened to in the hospital together after she passed.)

The internet had a lot to say about the matter.

EleriTMLH wrote:

NTA. And you introduce the song with something like "Now, you all know my mom had a quirky sense of humor, and this was the one song she requested. If you're offended, well, you'll have to take that up with her."

Environmental_591 wrote:

My dad wants Monty Pythons "All ways look on the bright side of life" and he has made me pinky swear to not cut it off before I think it is the second verse where they start with "always look on the bright side of death". I promised him I would male sure we played the entire song, and if anyone cuts it short, I will restart the song.

I also had to promise that we would scatter his ashes at high tide and not low tide so that "he wouldn't get stuck in that disgusting green gunk covering the rocks" that are under the deck at the marina where he and his sailing buddies drink. They are supposed to be scattered at sea, but he knows we will probably be too drunk to head out, so he figured high tide is "close enough."

OP, I know funerals are for the living, but I believe they are a waste of time and pointless when they don't represent the person whose life we are celebrating. Play her song, make her proud that she raised someone who respects the last wishes of those they love no matter how quirky they are.

OP responded:

My best friend's family actually played "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" at her dad's funeral, I personally thought it was an excellent choice.

botswa wrote:

Why not put it in the program? There's usually a little folded paper thing with info in it for mourners. You could also have the person who is leading the funeral to say something like "and at the request of [Mom's Name], here's a song she chose to say goodbye with." I'm so sorry for your loss and I hope you find a way to honor your mom and the haters can stuff it.

OP responded:

That's a really good idea! I haven't started drafting the program yet so I didn't think of that, but it would at least make it explicit that it's what my mom requested and not just me trying to be funny or whatever. Thanks.

stargill70 wrote:

One time, during dinner, my daughter said she'd like the closing theme song to, "The Bear in the big blue house," played at her funeral if she were to ever die. Well, she did die, and that's what we had played during the service.

OP responded:

That's a classic, sounds like she had good taste! Very sorry for your loss.

Substantialquit2653 wrote:

NTA. Your mom was deliberate in her choices. Your religious relatives can have religious funerals when it's their time. They don't get to choose for other people. I haven't heard Ella Fitzgerald's version of the song your mom chose, but personally I think the munchkin version would be hysterical. Your mom knew who she was.

You're celebrating who she was. What's most important is- if you don't honor your mom's wishes, how will YOU feel about this years later down the road? Because those religious relatives won't think about this again. But you will.

OP responded:

"What's most important is- if you don't honor your mom's wishes, how will YOU feel about this years later down the road? Because those religious relatives won't think about this again. But you will."

That's a really good point.

Two weeks later, OP shared a short update.

We decided to wait a bit to hold the Celebration of Life in nicer weather and closer to what would've been my mom's birthday, but I decided I'm going to play the Ella Fitzgerald version!

Then two months later, they shared another update.

Hi, everyone! I figured I'd come back and give you all an update on how things turned out with my mom's memorial service. I'm really grateful for everyone who convinced me that playing the song she chose was the right option.

So yes, I decided to go ahead and play the Ella Fitzgerald version of "Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead" after incorporating the story behind it into my eulogy, which a few people suggested as the best way to bridge the gap between a serious occasion and a silly song. We poured a toast for everyone first and I told them we would raise a glass during the song, and then introduced it like this:

"I'm sure you all know my mother had a wicked sense of humor. And if you know where I'm going with this, you know why I said it that way. For as long as I can remember, she told me and everybody else that she wanted a certain song played at her funeral. Because she wanted everyone to laugh, not cry."

"And because she knew she wouldn't have to deal with it if anybody didn't get the joke. But I think you'll all get it. And despite the circumstances, I hope this will be another happy memory that we all associate with my mom." And then I played the song, and people immediately started smiling and chuckling when they caught on to what it was.

The couple of people I worried about not finding it funny seemed to take it well enough, they weren't giggling like everyone else but I think they were accepting of the song being what my mom wanted. And afterwards a few people told me that the song was perfect and that they could totally see my mom requesting that. All in all, it was a very nice Celebration of Life and I'm happy with the way things turned out.

The internet was happy to hear the update.

Doormatty wrote:

My mother has also requested the same song be played at her funeral!

Welshlady1982 wrote:

NTA my mother in law wanted P!nk Let's get this Party Started as the curtains closed on the coffin, honestly couldn't see anyone that wasn't smiling.

MikeTalonNYC wrote:

NTA in any way. You are honoring the wishes of your mom, who wanted everyone to laugh and celebrate her life, not just mourn her passing.

Hell, now I want that blasted out when I go.

Youknowme911 wrote:

I’m a former funeral director, I had one family play Jimmy Buffett music during the visitation and everyone came dressed as “key west casual “….I had another family play Christmas songs and decorate the visitation room in Christmas decor because it was moms favorite holiday.

LoopyMercutio wrote:


My buddy died of cancer years ago, and just as they went to lower the casket Highway To Hell by AC/DC started blasting. He had paid one of our friends to do it, and given him some letters for everyone just in case anyone got pissed.

nibor wrote:

I payed "always look on the right side of life" at my step fathers, I picked it based on my experiance with him and assumed others would get it. I also played the Galaxy song.

He introduced me to Monty Pythin and sci-fi.

It sounds like OP honored their mom exactly how she wanted to be honored.

Sources: Reddit
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