As measures to curb the spread of coronavirus escalate, private funeral mourners need to change the way they say goodbye to departed loved ones.

The Australian Government recently limited the number of in-person funeral service attendees to ten. America too is imposing the same restrictions. Likewise China and Italy are banning funeral gatherings until further notice.

So, with limited in-person funeral service numbers mandated worldwide, how do extended family members and friends mourn the loss of a loved one? And is live streaming the ultra-modern answer to webcast private funeral services?

Key points

  • Social distancing is rapidly changing funeral services and mourning customs
  • Live streaming is the ultra-modern funeral service alternative
  • New ways to offer condolences in the age of social distancing are emerging
  • COVID-19 is forcing a mind shift in viewing departed loved ones

What is a private funeral service in the face of COVID-19?

Funeral directors throughout Australia and America are rapidly adapting their services to offer live streaming, but not all funeral chapels have the technology.  As a result, those funeral directors are encouraging families to hold a small private service and consider a memorial after the COVID-19 crisis is over. Yet, many families don’t want anyone to miss out saying goodbye to their departed loved one. Consequently, there has been a huge uptake in families live streaming their private funeral service.  

Live streaming a private funeral is easy

If you’ve opted for a private burial or cremation, extended family and friends don’t have to miss out. Simply live stream the service using a smartphone (or tablet). Here is what to do.

  1. Choose your video recording device
    To keep it simple and cost-effective, use a smartphone or tablet.
  2. Decide which streaming platform is best for you
    YouTube Live, Facebook Live, and Periscope are three of many free streaming platforms. Those new to live streaming should watch ‘how to’ videos to avoid disappoinment on the day.
  3. Send out invitations to attend the virtual funeral service on socials
    Notify all of the date, time, and platform on which to watch the funeral service. Keep in mind not everyone uses the same socials so send the funeral service notice via email, text, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and traditional post. Be sure to include the live stream URL in the post.
YouTube – How to live stream using your phone

Facebook – How to live stream a funeral service

Film the funeral service or eulogy readings
Rather than video the entire private funeral service, some families choose to broadcast the keynote eulogies. Similarly, others hire a professional videographer to capture and stream the funeral service from start to finish. But for those DIY-ing:

  • Nominate one person to be the videographer
  • Check camera settings before filming
  • Ensure the live streaming platform is ready
  • Use a tripod if possible
  • Stand close enough for the phone/tablet microphone to hear
  • Avoid zooming
  • Move the camera slowly (to avoid jerky or blurred movement)

Save your funeral service video

Be sure to save the funeral service video to a USB drive, external hard drive or Cloud storage. That way, a master copy is always onhand if you need to upload it again. Sometimes, Facebook and YouTube delete video content without notice. In most cases, Copyright infringement is the reason. So, make sure the background music or photographs shown during live streaming are copyright free.

Will my departed loved one be disappointed?

Each day COVID-19 is changing age-old traditions, customs and social norms. None more so than how we say goodbye to departed loved ones. Not being able to kiss, hug, or offer a handshake while passing on condolences is distressing. Deciding which family members miss out being one of ten in-personal funeral attendees is devastating. Dealing with associated guilt is overwhelming.

While live streaming offers one solution to mourn as a collective, does there also need to be a change in thinking? Is it time to accept departed loved one’s don’t need a large physical gathering as a show of love? What matters more is collective thought as energy. Like the power of prayer, positive thoughts transcend both heaven and earth irrespective of each individual’s location.

Tips for non-contact condolences
  • Place your hand to your heart and smile sympathetically.
  • Give comforting eye contact and say ‘My condolences.’
  • Press your palms together (as if prayer) and nod in sympathy.