Having virtual funerals at funeral homes is the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. This is challenging for bereaved families who are used to having large gatherings of families and friends to pay tribute to their deceased loved ones and to offer them comfort and support in their grief.
With the current stay-at-home orders in most American states and the restrictions on gatherings limited to immediate family only (the smaller number the better) the traditional ways that we remember and honor our deceased loved ones are not possible.
Grieving families have a sense that their loved ones are being deprived of a “real” service and that they are not getting the consolation and comfort they need and which a live funeral service would give them.
Feelings like these are normal. In a very real sense, these feelings are true. Neither your loved one nor you and your family will be able to experience the same level of intimate sympathy and comfort that having a lot of people around you brings.
However, there are some ways that you can still memorialize your loved ones now while you wait for the time to come when social distancing restrictions are lifted and you can hold a more traditional service for your deceased loved one.
While you wait for that time, it’s important to do something now that begin the process of closure, instead of putting that on hold indefinitely. It’s important for you and your family to begin to emotionally and mentally move forward from your loss.
Lots of families are discovering ways to share their loved one’s funeral services with friends and family using technology. Some funeral homes are offering live streaming services of the funeral so that friends and other family members can participate online in real time.
If the funeral home doesn’t yet have the technology (We do) to livestream the funeral service, you can easily do this either at the funeral home, or even in your home (remember, the funeral home will hold a full service that people can attend when they are able, so this doesn’t replace that).
With just a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop, you can use a virtual meeting or virtual chat application to share your loved one’s funeral service live.
While FaceTime is a well-known application, it can be used by only people who have Apple iPhones, so to allow as many people as possible to attend, there are other applications that you can choose from.
Zoom is one of the most popular applications for holding a virtual funeral service. The recent privacy issues that the company is in the process of fixing were only with recorded Zoom meetings, not live ones, so you don’t have to work about privacy issues when you livestream your loved one’s funeral service with Zoom. The only limitation with the free version of Zoom is that you get only 40 minutes of time. However, 100 people can connect to the funeral service at once.
By the way, if you do want to record the service, have someone at the service record it on their smartphone, tablet or laptop. There are several free applications that can be used to convert the raw video to a format that PC or Mac users can play.
Using the video chat feature of Facebook Messenger is another way to hold a private virtual funeral or memorial service with friends and other family members. While you will be able to see only six attendees at a time, a video chat through Facebook messenger will allow up to 50 people to attend the service.