For months now, many of life’s everyday activities have been conducted virtually. We take work meetings on Zoom, we FaceTime with family and friends, we join online exercise classes and some couples have even live-streamed their weddings. Recently, funerals are also being held virtually to allow families and loved ones to mourn their loss with a sense of togetherness.
Video streaming a funeral is not a replacement for the feeling of community experienced by gathering in person where people are able to offer hugs, but virtual celebrations of life can help give mourners a sense of closure and fellowship. With varying restrictions in place for large gatherings and the need to protect vulnerable members of the community, families have struggled with whether to hold a small or outdoor gathering, put off a funeral or turn to an online platform to stream a live service. With no indication of how long the pandemic will continue to require physical distancing, many families feel the need to celebrate lives lived digitally.
As families navigate these unprecedented times, funeral homes and clergy are learning how to best serve the needs of mourners who want and need a sense of closeness and support. A Zoom funeral can’t replace an in-person experience and there are limitations, but families who live together can gather to share the experience and hopefully feel some sense of unity. Sharing stories, photos and memories can help loved ones reach out to one another across the miles. People who might not have been able to travel to a traditional funeral are able to join in virtually. Like any live streaming event, there are likely to be a few lighter moments when someone can’t figure out how to un-mute themselves or turn on their device’s video.
Although technology has been a tremendous resource during the last few months, and online communication is certainly better than nothing, we can all agree that education, family dinners, birthday parties, weddings, and funerals are best conducted in person where the magic of face to face social interaction happens. Until we can meet again, let’s keep forging ahead and making the most of what opportunities are available.
For funeral guidance for individuals and families during COVID-19, follow this link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.