As much of the world has been forced to adjust to the new normal, there is another new reality that we all must face. Virtual funerals. It’s an unfortunate truth — while loved ones continue to pass away, whether from COVID-19 or not, we are pushed to find new ways to honor those who have died, in a non-congregate setting.
When someone you love passes away – regardless of the circumstances – many of us may be tempted to dismiss the stay-at-home orders, the social distancing and group gathering guidelines, to come together to honor the life of the person who passed.
Many churches and funeral homes, however, for the sake of their business and greater well-being of the community, have the burden of restricting services to be that of 10 people.
And once you count the funeral director and the person residing over the service, you are down to choosing 8 loved ones to be at the service in person.
What are virtual funerals really like?
Live-streaming funeral services.
Many funeral services are being streamed live for families and loved ones so they can “attend” the funeral while keeping a safe social distance. While this may be off-putting at first, there are some unexpected perks.
- Attend from anywhere. Online streaming opens up the ability for those who would be unable to physically travel to a service, with or without a pandemic, to still pay their respects and get the closure some people look for in a funeral service.
- Kids can be kids.We all know how difficult it can be for kids who are already pretty cooped up to sit still through a service. With live-streaming funerals, parents can attend services and not worry about their kids being disruptive to others attending.
- Saved expenses. While you don’t want to be thinking of finance when planning a service for your loved one, it’s a reality that must be considered. From travel expenses to meals, having a very small ceremony that is available to view online can save the family and attendees some money.
- Grieve your own way. Some people may find comfort in being able to view the service and grieve in private. Online services allows more flexibility for experiencing the grieving process.
Virtual funeral features
Some funeral homes simply set up cameras to livestream the service that anyone can tune in and watch. Other services have interactive components where a son or daughter of the deceased can read the eulogy they wrote projected on a screen.
Still other funeral homes have established “drive-thru” wakes (a name that definitely needs some revising). Some homes started practicing this well-before the COVID-19 pandemic even struck.
Recently, a New YorkFuneral Home gave an inside look into how services are being held during this pandemic.
Virtual funerals may not be ideal, however, we now live in a time where we must rethink our traditions, take a good look at how we individually and communally grieve the loss of loved ones, and continue to move toward a safer & well-connected community.