Let's talk about virtual funerals. This can be memorial services on Zoom, life celebrations on Facebook or private online funerals by invitation only.
How do you organize an online memorial service in these difficult times? Here's what you need to know about virtual funerals and how to plan a meaningful memorial when everyone can't get together.
What is a virtual funeral?
Funerals no longer take placeonlyin a traditional way. After all, 2020 has hit everyone, including the funeral industry. Suddenly everyone knew what Zoom is and how to use it. Businesses, organizations, families and friends have all adapted. Funeral directors are among the many industries that have had to "rethink" business as usual.
While some families choose to get together, others (for a variety of reasons) prefer to stream online.
In the funeral industry we call it the 'alone together' funeral.
How do virtual funerals work?
A virtual funeral works just like onetraditional funeral… basically.
The difference is that not everyone isphysicallypresent. Often a large number of friends, acquaintances and even family members are watching remotely via Zoom or other similar apps.
Even in the post-2020 era, families may choose to have limited attendance at physical, in-person burial. A chapel that may have seated 200 people may only have room for 50 or fewer. This means that some people will not receive an invitation to the funeral.
Did I mention that? You need to invite people now? read inobituaryin the newspaper does not automatically mean that you can attend the funeral service, or at oneNoticein the church newspaper. This is the new world of Zoom funerals.
You can still have them allFlower, the traditionalopen coffin, and even yoursclergy or other officials. There will not be all friends and family who might normally attend, but some can and will.
Read on to learn what the "new normal" is for the funeral industry. You will learn how to plan a virtual tour/visit and funeral service.
How to plan a virtual funeral service
Before 2020, most funeral homes did not offer virtual funeral services. But every industry adapts and changes over time, and funeral homes are no different. What should be considered when planning a funeral service?
Scheduling by phone, SMS and email.The world has adapted to new technologies.planning the funeral servicecan be done by phone or SMS. Documents can be sent by email or fax. They will still plan most of the traditional funeral (or "celebration of life') elements, but there will be a few tweaks to accommodate virtual attendees.
Choose who to invite - if anyone.You may want or be able to only allow a few selected people to participate. Everyone else takes part in the service “virtually”. This means you can attend worship online without leaving the comfort of your own home.
streaming of the service.Setting up a virtual funeral will be quite easy. The funeral home will ask for your email address. Once the director has everything set up about the virtual server, he/she will email you the link. It is up to the family to email the memorial service link to whoever they wish or post it on social media. The funeral home will not do this for you.
Contact family and friends with the details.You must either already have a list of emails or call people about their emails. Either way is appropriate. If you'd like, ask one of your tech-savvy younger family members to help you with all of this. For a more public option, you canCreate a virtual invitationand post with the link on social media.
10 meaningful ideas for online memorial celebrations
With all this newfangled online streaming and whatnot, the main thing is still to honor your loved one. Here are some helpful and creative ideas for safe and meaningful virtual memorial services.
1. Follow all CDC, state, and funeral home guidelines.
Follow the guidelines established during your first meeting with the funeral home. Security is essential. Wear masks where necessary, practice social distancing and follow all guidelines.
If the funeral home is only allowed to accommodate 25 people, make sure that's all you invited. Please be considerate of the funeral directors and the position you put them in if you don't follow the rules. It could cost the undertaker their job or even cause the undertaker to close.
2. Document the visit/viewing or memorial service.
Sending the email link may not have been sufficient. There are older generations who don't have access to computers or just aren't tech savvy. The virtual host will allow the funeral home to order DVDs for just such occasions.
If your elderly Aunt Ethel was unable to attend in person or via virtual link, the answer is to give her a DVD of the service.
3. Church clergy
Some churches may not allow their clergy to attend funeral services. If this is the case, you can ask the clergy to record the eulogy or read it over the live stream.
You canwrite the eulogyyourself, or have oneprofessionalwrite one for you Once the eulogy is ready, you can ask a family member or friend to deliver it live or recorded.
Alternatively, you can ask the undertaker to deliver the eulogy. Funeral directors are often trained in public speaking and can deliver your chosen messages. Provide the information and the funeral home can help put something together for you. You have the option to approve it before the service.
Continue reading: Helpful examples of eulogies for everyone
4. Make it immersive.
Invite virtual attendees to dress up and follow the virtual funeral program. Dressing up for the virtual service makes everyone feel more involved.
If you are a virtual attendee, wear the special funeral dress or suit you have for such an occasion. You wouldn't go to Grandma's funeral with a sandwich in hand or a stained t-shirt.
Reading along in your Bible and reading or singing along to the chosen music will give you a sense of participation. Any participation will make you feel immersed in the funeral service.
5. Have a virtual service now with a larger celebration later.
It is perfectly acceptable to have a virtual memorial service now with a larger celebration later. Some families who have loved ones cremated will now have the service. Plan theburial of the ashesat a later date, which may take weeks, months or even years.
Do you have a traditional service through Zoom. Then, if possible, plan a family reunion to commemorate. You can meet at a local park, restaurant, or even in your backyard. Celebration is key!
6. Have your family email messages to the funeral home.
Have your loved ones email the funeral home. Reading special memories in the virtual service offers people who wish to participate an opportunity to do so.
The clergy or funeral home will read out wishes or reminders. "I loved fishing with Uncle Mike. He taught me everything I know about catching northern pike! In loving memory of Uncle Mike from Jason.”
7. Create plaques at the funeral service.
Let your family email your photos of your loved ones. A... createphoto memory card. The undertaker will set it up where it can be seen during the service. All who participated will be happy to contribute.
You'll be amazed by all the photos you didn't know existed! Many mourners find these new photos (and stories, see #6) very meaningful as they experience new memories of their loved one who has passed away.
8. Allow flowers at the service.
It would help if you encouraged people to do thisSend flowers to the funeral home. Make sure the camera is focused on each flower arrangement. Let everyone know how much you appreciate ittributeto your darling.
You can even read flowercondolencesand signatures aloud. This is a great way to include family and community in the virtual funeral service.
9. Invite friends and family
It is difficult to decide who to invite to the service. share theviewand burial in two different parts can help with that. I have seen families turn a two hour visit and funeral into four hours.
You can invite 25 people who were not close family members to visit. This could be friends, church or community members, or colleagues. The funeral staff will disinfect the entire funeral home after the visit.
The next group of 25 participants will be present for the funeral service. This group will be close family and friends.
The first group of people will be able to follow the funeral service via Zoom, which you set up during the preparatory conference.
10. Memorial Tribute
You can create a slide show to be shown during the Visitation Service or the Funeral Service (or both). Do you have pictures from birth through the years.
Ortspecial musicin the slideshow summarizing the lives of your loved ones. I suggest music that would cover the whole life of your loved one. If your loved one was born in 1955, use music from the '60s, '70s, and early '80s. That would have been the music of her life.
If you have already asked family members to contribute photos for a memorial plaque, this would be the perfect opportunity to have the funeral home create a DVD for you. The funeral home charges for this service. If you have someone in your family who could assemble one, this will save you some money.
For ideas on what to do if no funeral or memorial service is held,Check out this article.
Is the future now?
The funeral industry has always been slow to move into the present. We undertakers love tradition! But now the funeral industry has embraced virtual tours, visits and funerals.
Will this be our new tradition? How will the events of 2020-2021 affect future trends in burial and memorial services? Are virtual funerals becoming the norm? Only time can tell.
Continue reading: How to fill out your funeral notice