10 Ideas for Funerals When You Can't Be Together
Published on December 01, 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in so many ways. Social distancing, one of the key strategies of the public health community, has become so ingrained in our collective psyches that most people are hesitant about attending any public event, event sensitive family events, like funeral services. With funeral homes abiding by the strict guidelines set by both their respective health and state officials, as well as those of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, matters are further complicated.
With end of life memorials, services, and rituals being restricted to small groups, families must think outside the box and find other ways of connecting to honor their loved ones while still maintaining the required social distancing protocols. Here are some of the most viable ideas you can incorporate into your planning when physical attendance is not possible or advisable:
1. Have a Small Private Service Now and An Open In-Person Event Later
While it's common for families to hold a single burial service bringing together both close family and more distant relations for convenience and cost-saving purposes, it is not really necessary to do so during these times. Where things are a bit tough, consider holding a small ceremony involving only close family and friends (could be in-person, virtual, or a combination of the two) then later on plan another larger event open to everyone. You can even schedule the latter to take place on an important date, or even the first anniversary of their passing away. The focus of such an event would be to celebrate their life and memory.
2. Stream the Event
One of the takeaways from the Covid-19 pandemic is that one does not necessarily have to be present at an event to experience it, and even appreciate being together with others, even though virtually. Thanks to technologies like Zoom, Facebook Live, and FaceTime, you can stream the entire service for the people at home so they also feel involved. Of course, you may need to do some prep-work before the event to avoid technical mishaps. You can always outsource the job to pro videographers, but with good planning, this may not be necessary.
3. Facilitate the Participation of the People at Home
Even as you stream the event, you also need to get the viewers involved in the activities as they would have been if they were present. For instance, you can have someone read the eulogy, or sing a song via Zoom or FaceTime and allow other viewers to join in as well. You can also request several people to prepare personal expressions or experiences, or send in some pre-recorded videos, before the service then fit them into the stream. Many online teleconferencing sites allow the person speaking to be in the main view, which makes coordinating or moderating a breeze.Others can be muted to prevent distractions. It really is quite easy.
4. Share a Slideshow of Heartfelt Memories
Memorial photo galleries are pretty much a staple at funeral services and the fact that guests won't be present does not mean memorable photos of the loved one cannot be shared. OurBeloved.com allows a photo gallery to be created, which can be shared easily via the screen share feature of most video teleconferencing services. Other personal pages of the person’s Tribute Site can also easily be shared with others attending a virtual service. Consult with family and close friends to combine their favorite memories into a photo gallery, which you can share on social media, play during the service, or post on an OurBeloved.com Tribute Site.
5. Organize an Emotional Montage of Words of Remembrance
Days before the ceremony, invite close family members and friends to write their fondest memories of the deceased then organize them into a short video complete with background music. Play this video during the online memorial service using a function like Zoom's Webinar feature that allows you to share a screen recording your computer playing the select video(s). These remembrances can be posted as Tributes on their Tribute Site, where they can be shared during an online service, or viewed by others that visit the Tribute Site.
6. Encourage People at Home to Sing Along
Physical distance means nothing in the digital era, where everyone is just a call away. If you decide on a virtual function, you can get the people at home to feel like they're part of the ceremony by singing together in real-time during the service. This is possible through group call features on platforms like Zoom and FaceTime, for instance, that allow you to connect with many people at once. To prevent sound distortion, you may want to use a good headset or earbuds during the call. OurBeloved.com allows the various parts of a memorial program to be posted in individual fields on the Tribute Site Services Page. This is a great place for song lyrics, allowing others to sing along, if desired.
7. Bring The Family Together for a Tribute Act to Be Played During the Service
Even if your family members are far apart, you can still have them pay a musical tribute to your loved one as they would during an in-person service. Ideally, you need to get the best musically talented folk for this for better coordination. Then request them to record themselves singing a given song and send you the audios/videos. Edit the clips together into one harmonious tribute to be played during the service. You don't even have to be a pro to go through with this; there are lots of video editing tutorials on YouTube that will show you the way.
8. Organize a Virtual Guest Book or Allow Attendees to Post Online Tributes
Funeral guest books are important elements of the event as they include the names of the attendees and their respective memories. So, even when you can't have guests present, consider having some sort of a virtual memorial book that will provide a similar sentimental effect to the family.
The Tribute Page of the OurBeloved.com Tribute Site is the perfect place to handle this. It allows for more than just a name. It allows loved ones and friends to post well thought out “tributes” or just short kind expressions. You can allow them to use their own imagination or send a list of questions or ideas for consideration (like what the deceased taught them, how they met, etc.). The Tribute Page even allows for a small photo of the person who posts the tribute and allows links for their social media pages. It’s a great way to bring friends and family together.
9. Hold Many Virtual Rituals at The Same Time
When streaming the event is untenable, you can still create a connection with your family and friends on the funeral day by having them do a given ritual at the same time. It doesn't even have to be something elaborate. You can, for instance, play the departed's favorite song at the same time, or say a specific prayer for their soul. Knowing that many people are doing the same thing at the same time forms a powerful connection of souls that pervades the limitations of distance.
10. Create a Permanent Commemorative in Your Home, or an Online Commemorative
After the farewell rites are over, put together a small symbol that will serve as both a goodbye gift and an eternal reminder of the departed loved one. This could be anything from a shrine with their name on it, to a tree, or even a photo display. If possible, do it by yourself, or with the help of your kids or close family members; do not hire someone to do it.
OurBeloved.com allows Tribute Sites to be easily created, which can serve as a virtual memorial for family and friends to enjoy. They are a great way to honor to promote and preserve the memory of our loved one.
Published on December 01, 2020