What Does Remotely Attending a Funeral Mean?
Over the past couple of years, streaming funerals online has become a common occurrence. In March 2020, BBC News reported that the demand for this kind of webcast was expected to increase due to the impact of government restrictions relating to funerals in the pandemic and the number of people permitted to attend them. One company producing funeral webcasts, UK Funeral Video Services, has streamed more than 400 ceremonies to almost 140,000 households in the last 14 months alone.
The main advantage of broadcasting funerals online during a pandemic is clear. Webcasts ‘allow friends and family to mourn together, whilst keeping a physical distance’, remarks LocalFuneral.co.uk, a network of funeral directors. However, the technology was in use long before 2020. According to Orbitas, which provides bereavement support services, ‘Webcasting of funerals has been available for more than a decade in the UK’.
Funeral restrictions have now been relaxed; across most of the UK, there are currently no legal limits on congregation sizes, and venues aren’t required to enforce social distancing measures. But the fact remains that not everyone who wants to attend a funeral in person will be able to do so. There’s still a need for funeral webcasts, not least because they help mourners who can’t get to the venue feel involved with the funeral order of service.
Feeling Involved Despite Not Being Present
When people watch funerals online from home, they’re described as ‘remotely attending a funeral’.
Funeral webcasts are ideal for those who want to feel connected to the proceedings despite not being physically present. They’re also helpful if you’d prefer just close relatives and friends to attend in person, but are willing to open the event up online to other people connected to the deceased.
Key Reasons for Remote Attendance
There are many reasons why attending funerals remotely is the best option for some mourners.
- Health, mobility or age-related problems – someone who’s frail may feel that attending in person would be too draining or increase their risk of contracting coronavirus.
- Financial concerns – booking flights or trains close to the date of travel is expensive. Petrol can be costly too, as can hotels and childcare.
- Travel restrictions – during the pandemic, the rules are changing frequently. This adds uncertainty to travel, especially trips abroad.
- Emotional issues – someone whose grief is particularly raw may find attending remotely less of a strain.
Recorded Versions Can Be Kept for Posterity
Remote attendance requires little more than an internet connection and suitable device (a smartphone, tablet, PC, laptop or smart TV). Mourners receive login details for a private website (or private area of a public site such as Facebook) or are invited to a private video call (on Zoom, say), so they can watch the service.
If you’re planning a funeral with a webcast, we suggest sending funeral order of service booklets to remote attendees in advance, so they can follow along.
In addition to the real-time webcast, a recorded version will normally be available to view later on (ideal if some mourners can’t watch the funeral as it happens due to different time zones, for example). Funeral-planning service Farewelling calls the recorded version ‘a digital heirloom’. It’s something you’ll treasure and may wish to return to during a memorial event.
Funeral Streaming – Where to Start
If you’d like your loved one’s funeral to be shared online, you may feel tempted to produce the webcast yourself (AgeSpace, a resource for people caring for the elderly, has a guide to streaming funerals). But there’s a lot to be said for entrusting the task to professionals, especially if you’re in the grip of strong emotions.
With that in mind, a helpful first step would be to talk to your funeral director or venue. They may well have the equipment and skills to film and share the ceremony as a webcast. If not, you could contact a few funeral streaming companies to discuss your options.
Funeral Stationery Deepens the Sense of Connection
It’s worth bearing in mind that beautiful, professionally printed UK funeral stationery is appreciated not only by mourners who attend funerals in person but also by those who watch online.
Our funeral order of service templates are expertly designed to make it easy for you to create elegant funeral order of service booklets that will help everyone, near and far, honour the deceased’s memory. They’re complemented by other stunning stationery, such as memorial cards, which can enhance mourners’ sense of connection to the individual to whom they’re saying a final farewell.