Why Virtual Funerals Bring Us Closer Than Ever
The solemn act of remembering
Funerals have always been about venerating the recently deceased. It is a tradition that aims to encapsulate the memories, emotions, and milestones of the dearly departed. Attendees are the participants in the solemn act of remembering; counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds until they have to say farewell again, although this time it is for when the salt returns to the earth.
The recent events worldwide have changed what tradition means. The virtual space is alive with activity due to businesses, schools, and families utilizing the freedom it provides amidst the restrictions of the global pandemic. A virtual funeral is the most recent addition to the mass online gatherings people are participating in worldwide.
The what and why;
Local quarantines in countries are limiting the public gatherings and interactions due to the surge and recess of COVID-19 cases. To get around such restrictions and still partake in the ceremony of a funeral, online tools such as Zoom, Hangouts, and Skype can be used to host video conferences for everyone to partake in.
So why do it?
- Social distancing restrictions – The pandemic has resulted in quarantines and closure of areas that would normally host a large number of people. Virtual teleconferencing has become the go to for communication without the fear of exposure.
- Travel – With virtual meetings, there would be no need to plan for a long drive or even flying in from another country. All that needs to be done is to set a date and time where everyone can participate with ease of access.
- Costs – There would be way less finances to think about when it comes to hosting a virtual funeral. Booking a venue would not be needed along with shelling out for food and drinks. Everyone would be attending from the comforts of their home.
- Time – When a loved one passes away; the news is usually sudden to friends and family. Funeral announcements would have some people taking time off work or changing schedules to attend the event. With a virtual funeral, the only thing that participants need to think about is the time.
There is a concern that such a virtual meeting might be alienating with the absence of face-to-face interactions, the occasional catch-up with family friends and other relatives, and the general small talk. On the contrary, the virtual space allows a person to compose their thoughts and feelings before reaching out, making interactions more meaningful.
There are two ways to host a virtual funeral; One is the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach in streaming it from the family’s home, while the other is through a funeral home. Choosing a funeral home will relieve the family of preparing and planning, delegating the responsibility to the funeral home services. If the DIY approach is chosen, there are a few things to consider:
- Assign someone to take the lead in hosting and managing the stream. This would include the in-session management of muting mics, assisting guests with technical issues, and passing along announcements in the chat box just to name a few.
- Learn the program settings that were chosen for the stream, from setting up invites to video preferences, there are quite a few things to take note of. Some platforms also allow recording of sessions.
- Seek help with officiating from the local spiritual leader the family is familiar with, for the religious activities and ceremonies.
- Give reminders on how to present an on-screen appearance if any guest or family member wishes to use a video camera.
A virtual funeral is an experience that can draw people closer than a traditional one. Everyone attending would experience such a gathering for the first time where they can focus on what’s most important; the love of friends and family and the memories that make life all the worth remembering.
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