Most people have gotten used to a new version of normal after Covid was first identified in 2019. Many of us have also lost dear friends and family members during this time but then we weren’t able to attend the funeral due to lockdown and event attendee restrictions. Some of these restrictions have been lifted, but with family and friends living far away and with people getting used to working and living online, virtual or hybrid funerals are making more and more sense. Organising a virtual funeral is not that much different than organising an in-person funeral in terms of the progression of the service itself, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind for virtual attendees.
Using an online platform
If you want to have people attend the funeral of a loved one online, you have to choose a platform to host the service. Zoom is generally a good choice as most people are familiar with it by now. You do have Teams and other platforms as options, and you’ll have to choose the one that works the best for you and the people wanting to attend the virtual event. We’ll assume that Zoom will be used the most.
Zoom has paid and free options. If you already have a paid version of Zoom for work, you are good to go. If you just have the free version, you are limited to a 40-minute virtual event and three participants. You could pay a monthly subscription to get the Pro version allowing for unlimited time and 100 participants, Webinar with 100 – 10,000 view-only attendees, chat and live streaming, or Business with a customized URL, dashboard, email, and more. If the funeral home supporting you helps to organise virtual services, they should also have a professional option you can make use of.
Some different things to keep in mind
Whether the funeral is fully virtual or hybrid, you have to carefully consider your location, support, and logistics.
The location must support a stable and fast internet connection to ensure your Zoom and streaming runs smoothly. Good natural light and sound are also important to keep in mind. You could still get around these considerations with lighting and additional sound equipment.
This brings us to the support you need. It could be that you require sound and lighting, but you should also remember that you need good visuals too. Because you are trying to host a formal event, it won’t necessarily be enough to have a phone or computer camera to record the service. Some phones with particularly good cameras could be sufficient, especially if the speakers at the event remain stationary. If it is a dynamic event, consider having a more professional recorder and individual dedicated to recording the event.
Invites and programmes
People often put a lot of effort into making special invitations and funeral programmes that include letters from the family, written eulogies, images, etc. These printed items will have to be provided in electronic format to those attending online. Luckily this is easy to do, and you can email it to everyone who RSVPs for the virtual service. If you make the virtual service open to individuals that have not RSVPd, you could make use of Zoom’s audio and video resource library. You can share documents, slideshows, and more. Practice the features that Zoom provides before the funeral to make sure you know exactly what you can do and have a funeral with minimal hiccups.
You also have funeral rituals and customs like viewing the body or having one-on-one time with the family. You will have to decide how you want to deal with this. One option is to schedule private meeting times before or after the service with the virtual attendees. It avoids the awkwardness of having a big virtual group that would not provide any privacy.
Assist virtual guests
To further avoid awkwardness and hiccups for the virtual attendees, you can assist them by sending instructions on how to join the funeral service that includes the type of tech they need to attend and what they need to do to test that everything works correctly. In the programme, you can set out exactly what is going to happen so it is easy for them to follow along even if their connection isn’t great. You could communicate to the in-person attendees and those taking part in the service that you have a virtual group as well so they know to maybe look into the camera and speak clearly. You should also ask a single person to be in control of the virtual meeting to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Having a virtual funeral has become easier than ever and just makes sense as so many people that would want to attend often live abroad or far away. At Sonja Smith Elite Funeral Group we will help you organise your virtual, hybrid, or in-person-only event. We can assist with ensuring you have all the tech you need to host the funeral and make sure the event runs smoothly.