Covid undoubtedly changed the world in so many ways. We were forced to adapt in a way we could not have imagined previously. One of the most poignant ways our lives changed were how we hosted and attended funerals.
This gave birth to remote funeral services, otherwise known as the virtual funeral. Virtual funerals seem like a strange thing to come to grasp with, so we’ve compiled this guide to give you all you need to know for planning or attending a virtual funeral.
For many, Zoom was the preferred platform to host on as it could host a large number of people. Aside from the fact the service was online, there wasn’t that much more that was different in the planning aspect. Most funeral homes are familiar with the idea of virtual funerals and as such, many have the tools to host a virtual funeral. If you’d prefer to do this yourself, a service such as Zoom is best as many people can be invited via a web link and access the service via a password.
If you choose to host the service yourself, you’re going to want to pick a good location. One with a good Wi-Fi connection, quality lighting and a few backup plans to make sure it runs smoothly. As well as access to outlets, extension cords, etc. Your location may be in your home, or if applicable, a place of worship. Your guests will of course be attending from their own homes.
Inviting guests may be slightly different to how we would regularly. As the funeral is digital, it is best to send digital invites to guests. If you do choose to host on Zoom you can create a meeting time for your event with a meeting link you can send to guests ahead of the service.
Additionally, you can organise smaller meetings with friends or loved ones attending the virtual service and have smaller, separate meetings with them away from the actual service.
A traditional funeral will probably lack visual engagement, which is where the virtual funeral differs. You can add in slide shows of pictures of the deceased with family and loved ones. Playing funeral songs is also a lot easier and can play for each guest.
Ahead of the funeral, it might be a good idea to give your guests some information on how to use Zoom and what they’ll need to do for it to run smoothly.
For a regular funeral service, there might be some funeral stationery included. There is usually always a funeral order of service template that is followed for the day’s events, catalogued in the funeral order of service. Another funeral stationery that may be beneficial in the age of digital funerals is attendance cards. Attendance cards are great to keep track of who attended the funeral to ensure you know who attended and who to thank, etc. For remote funeral services, this is especially useful as you may not get a chance to have a chat with everyone attending.
Additionally, the funeral order of service can also be produced and then sent to the attendees of the funeral at another time for them to keep as a keepsake.
If you’re calling on one of your guests to take part and perhaps read a poem or make a speech, you’ll need to notify them beforehand and give them the correct information for how to share their screen if needed, play any music, etc.
There is also the chat box option for guests to write any words of condolence. It might be a good idea to ask your guests to save doing this for a specific time so as not to distract yourself or the guests while the service is happening.
Each funeral may have its own dress code. It is important to listen to this if you are attending a remote funeral service as you’ll still want to dress appropriately.
It is important to note that digital funerals are going to be slightly different to the funeral services you’ve experienced before and will also most likely differ slightly from other digital funerals. Each service will be unique and special to those hosting and it is important to respect their wishes and requests to make sure the service runs smoothly online.