February 4, 2019 Brigitte Ganger

The Top 10 R&B Funeral Songs

Ballads about love and loss

The Top 10 R&B Funeral Songs
Consider choosing one of our top 5 R&B songs for your loved one's final send-off. (Shutterstock)

Contemporary R&B artists explore a huge range of topics through the power of song. Themes of grief and death are frequently expressed in this genre by artists like Mariah Carey, Beyonce and Smokey Robinson. Today we are naming our top R&B picks for funerals and grieving the loss of a loved one. 


1. "I Miss You" — Beyonce


The hole that is left behind when someone passes away is permanent. Though living without your loved one gets easier over time, the initial shock leaves most folks reeling. Beyonce's tribute to that emptiness earns her a spot at the top of our R&B list.  


I miss you, like everyday,


Wanna be with you, but you're away.


Beyonce is a soul queen and a modern R&B legend. This song does justice to her powerful voice with equally emotionally charged lyrics. This song is a stunning choice for a decedent who loved this genre, and leaves loved ones to mourn.



2. "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" — Boyz II Men


Boyz II Men produced multiple songs about grief, but this 1991 hit captures the difficulty of saying goodbye like no other. The silky, gospel-inspired tune laments the loss of someone special and the permanence of death. 


How do I say goodbye to what we had?


The good times that made us laugh, outweighed the bad.


I thought we'd get to see forever, but forever has blown away.


It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.


Realizing that the death of a loved one also means the loss of part of yourself is one of the most profound and exacting grief experiences a person can have. Especially in the immediate aftermath of a death, the idea of ever moving on seems impossible.


Several artists have covered this track, including Jason Mraz, Damien and Jamelody. Usher did a rendition of "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" as a tribute to the late singer, Aaliyah.



3. "Easier" — Kandi


This is another soulful song that hits home when death is near. Kandi's "Easier" is a song that is sung by a mourner who has the benefit of time and distance from grief. The singer still loves the person who has passed, but is able to move on from the loss.


I thought my life was over without you.


Thought I would be oh so sad darlin',


'Cause you left me here to face all my fears.


All by myself, with nobody else,


Now that you're gone, I just gotta move on,


But my love'll never change.


Acceptance of grief is a long process. This song can be a reminder to mourners that it is possible to move forward in life after a death has occurred. 



4. "So Alone" — Men At Large


When someone has passed away, it can feel like they are on vacation, unreachable but still there. But death is permanent, and realizing your loved one is not just out of sight is a universal grief experience. Men At Large perfectly understand the wistful longing of wanting to see a loved one again. 


Life goes on and it's not the same,


Cause I can't help sometimes calling out your name.


But, then I realize that you won't come around, no,


Oh, what I wouldn't give to see your smile.


   


5. "Really Gonna Miss You" — Smokey Robinson


There is no sorrow like losing a trusted confidant. This simple R&B ballad discusses the unique pain of losing a friend. Vowing to always remember and love his friend, Smokey Robinson's song is encapsulated in the poignant title, "I'm Really Gonna Miss You." 


Time came when you had to go,


I'll miss you my buddy.


I'll miss you my friend,


I promise my love for you will never end.  


A meaningful addition to any funeral service, memorial slideshow or reception, this song can pay tribute to a friend who no longer walks the earth—but who will be forever remembered.



6. "One Sweet Day" — Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men


"One Sweet Day" is a well known song about loss. When someone dies, many grieving people experience pining for their loved one. If you believe in an afterlife, there is comfort to be found in the knowledge that one day you'll be reunited with your loved ones in heaven:


And I know you're shining down on me from heaven.


I'll see you eventually,


Like so many friends we've lost along the way.


If the promise of an afterlife was important to your loved one and their survivors, this could be a meaningful way to remember their life and pay respects.



7. "Life Goes On" — 2Pac


Tupac Shakur's life was tragically cut short when he was murdered on September 7, 1996. Though his life ended too soon, the young rapper made waves in the R&B space, often releasing music that explored loss of life. 


"Life Goes On" laments the lives lost in the streets. As a self-professed "Thug 'til I die!" 2Pac discusses his own wishes for his gangsta burial:


Bury me smilin' with G's in my pocket


Have a party at my funeral, let every rapper rock it


For one who lived life in the fast lane, wishing to go out with a bang, Tupac's "Life Goes On" may be the perfect funeral tribute.



8. "I'll Be Missing You" (feat. Faith Evans & 112) — Puff Daddy  


In 1997, Sean Combs (also known as Diddy, P. Diddy, Diddy, Puff Daddy and Puffy) joined forces with Faith Evans in a tribute to fellow musician Biggie (also known as The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls and Christopher Wallace). Biggie was tragically murdered in a gang-related drive-by shooting—a death that was highly publicized and impacted many in the rap community.


"I'll Be Missing You" explores themes surrounding death, asking "In the future, can't wait to see / If you open up the gates for me." The chorus is iconic and heartbreaking:


Every step I take, every move I make


Every single day, every time I pray


I'll be missing you


Thinkin' of the day, when you went away


What a life to take, what a bond to break


I'll be missing you


This song is an appropriate one to play during the memorial of one who has passed on, leaving behind grief and yearning to see them once more.



9. "Gangsta Lean" — DRS


"Gangsta Lean" is a gospel-inspired song dedicated to "homies in that gangsta lean." It highlights the prevalence of early deaths of friends when "it seems like yesterday we were hangin' round da hood": 


I tip my 40 to your memory


Take a drink, and I


Stop to think, and I


I know one day soon


We'll be, we'll be hangin' out


The act of pouring a drink onto the ground as a tribute to one who has passed away is a symbolic gesture of respect. To 'pour one out' for a fallen friend is to remember them seriously, but informally. "Gangsta Lean" is one of the most well-known songs about premature death, and the effect of grief on a community that experiences loss often. 



10. "These Three Words" — Stevie Wonder


Stevie Wonder explores a common theme about grief and loss in his R&B ballad, "These Three Words." When a loved one dies, many people focus on missed opportunities to spend time with they passed away. One of the most difficult realizations of a loss is realizing you didn't say 'I love you' enough:


Ones you say you cherish everyday,


Can instantly be taken away.


Then you say I know this can't be true,


When you never took the time to simply tell them i love you.


If the loss of a loved one seemed to come too soon or without closure, "These Three Words" by Stevie Wonder is the perfect way to reflect this sorrow at the funeral or reception.


A meaningful addition to any funeral service, memorial slideshow or reception, this song can pay tribute to a friend who no longer walks the earth—but who will be forever remembered.



These ten R&B songs are only a small selection of the options available for a funeral. Post a comment below with your favorite R&B funeral songs about grief, loss and love.

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