Whether you’re living in a foreign country, interstate, or are affected by COVID-19 restrictions, attending a funeral from a distance can feel overwhelming. Live-streamed funeral services are a wonderful tool to keep families together during a difficult time, yet they present many challenges.
For one, not being physically present can make it more difficult to process emotions especially when you don’t have family or friends around you. Watching loved ones mourn and seeing the procession through a screen can exasperate emotions and have people feeling like a voyeur during a sensitive and otherwise private family moment.
But there are ways to prepare for a virtual funeral to make it easier to grieve and remain present from afar.
The purpose of live-streamed funerals
Webcasting funerals has been around since the 90s, yet has become even more prevalent in recent times, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. The sole purpose of live-streamed funerals is to accommodate families who aren’t physically able to attend a funeral.
In this way, families can honor their loved ones and grieve in a healthy way, even from a distance. Live-streamed funerals are particularly useful for people who cannot attend a funeral due to illness or injury, for individuals who are in aged care or nursing homes, and for family living overseas who haven’t got the means to travel.
Although a virtual funeral will not replace the comfort of being physically there surrounded by family and friends, it provides a wonderful alternative that can be helpful and cathartic if approached with the right mindset.
What to expect from a virtual funeral?
Live-streaming services such as Zoom is used in virtual funerals to allow people to attend the service from afar. During a virtual funeral, the camera will record and provide a live feed of the service, while screens at the funeral will project the virtual attendees so that guests in physical attendance can see and communicate with them.
A virtual funeral unfolds as a traditional funeral would. You will be able to log-into the online application at the outlined time and date and watch the service take place. You will be able to participate by singing along, reciting verses, or presenting a eulogy.
Virtual funeral services provide attendees the opportunity to connect with and support the family during a difficult time. Often, virtual attendees can access an online chat prior to the funeral and afterward, to connect with family. During the live-streamed service, virtual attendees are muted to prevent any unintended interruptions. If a virtual attendee is to present a eulogy, they will be unmuted during this portion of the service.
How to show support from a distance?
Watching a funeral unfold through a screen may make it difficult to cultivate a sense of presence. To counter this, virtual attendees can approach a virtual funeral the same way as a traditional funeral. Dress appropriately, log-in 30 minutes prior to ensure your connection is secure and that there are no technical errors.
You may also prepare for a live-stream funeral by setting up flowers around your space, positioning a framed photo of your loved one on camera, and by reciting some Bible verses, poems, or other tools for reflection prior and after the funeral.
In recent times, there has been more of a trend to the personalizing of a funeral service. This opens up many creative ways to remember and honor your loved one. You might have their favorite songs playing, you might want to cook a meal that honors their memory, or even light a candle prior to the service. Take some time in the days leading up to the virtual funeral to figure out what best will serve you during this time.
Attending a live-stream funeral may stir up an array of emotions. It can be difficult to not be physically present during a sensitive time. However, a virtual funeral gives you the opportunity to grieve in a way that soothes you most.
It is also a wonderful opportunity to honor your loved one and can open up opportunities to be creative when it comes to how you’d like to remember them. After a virtual funeral, it’s important to reach out to a friend, family member, or somebody you trust so that you can debrief and talk about any emotions that may have arisen.
Remember, even if you aren’t physically there, your presence is still felt and the family of the deceased will feel grateful for your support. You may wish to send a card or gift to the family after the service, as this is a wonderful way to show love and support without physically being able to.
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