In March of 2020 Virtual Funerals started to increase due to COVID-19. For a time, in-person funerals were limited to 10 people. Celebrations of Life (50+ guests) that had been planned were postponed and rescheduled multiple times.
The uncertainty of coming together to honor a loved one added another layer of grieving. There was nowhere for grief to go. No handshakes, hugs or the comfort of human connection. Grief was suspended in the unknown.
Online Memorials and Celebrations of Life took on a whole new meaning. Not being able to attend in person for a variety of reasons, we all started adapting to “being there” online. Those challenged by technology asked for help from caregivers, children and grandchildren to watch funerals online. The following three types of Digital Funerals may be around for a while. I highly recommend working with a business who specializes in Live Streaming, Videography and/or Video Conferencing. These technical experts will produce professional results.
Livestreaming means that you can watch the Funeral or Celebration of Life “live” in real time from your own living room. The person livestreaming the Memorial uses a camera, phone or laptop with Facebook Live or YouTube Live. If the family or funeral director provides the link, then you may also watch it at a later date.
This is a good option for families who prefer a professional video recording. The video can be edited and uploaded to YouTube or another platform. You may choose it to be private (only those who have the link may watch it) or public (anyone may watch it). It becomes a keepsake video and may be watched again – anytime, maybe on a loved one’s birthday or anniversary of their passing.
Zoom is a video conferencing platform that soared in popularity this year. It is easy to use and download. The person hosting needs a paid Zoom account. Guests may attend free and do not need a paid account. During a Zoom Celebration of Life, everyone may be seen online and it may be interactive with guests participating. The obituary, photos and Order of Service may be shared on the screen. Everyone may view the Ceremony “live” from the comfort of their own home. Guests may be invited to speak or record their Tributes in advance. Live music is sometimes included. Guests may type a message into the Virtual Chat area in real time. One family copied all the messages in the Chat Area and created a beautiful printed memory book. The entire Ceremony may be recorded and viewed later for those who have the link. You may also have a Virtual Reception following the Ceremony. Just like an in-person Reception, enjoy favorite foods and raise a glass to toast your loved one. This is also a good time to screen share memories and photos.
I highly recommend hiring a professional for any of these types of Virtual Funerals. This is a perfect time for an entrepreneur to start a business! I keep searching for someone who is excellent and reasonably priced. The demand is greater than the number of businesses providing this service. My area of expertise is in writing, organizing and officiating Celebrations of Life or Memorials. I am honored to be your Celebrant in-person or included in any of the ways you choose to celebrate your loved one virtually. Learn more by reading a previous Blog – How Technology Enhances Celebrations of Life.
- Anita Larson is a Ceremony Leader and Officiant who blogs about her experiences with Celebrations of Life. Providing uncommon ideas and encouraging her readers to “Think Outside the Coffin®” when planning a Fabulous Farewell.