A funeral can be extremely difficult under the best of circumstances. Losing a loved one during a global pandemic adds another layer of challenge to loss that we couldn’t have previously imagined. With strict physical distancing mandates that limit the number of people who can gather, many wonder if you can even still have a funeral.
The answer is yes, but by finding different ways to say goodbye. Funerals during COVID-19 are more personal and intimate. Most often, they can only include the immediate family, the officiant and funeral home staff. To allow friends and extended family outside this immediate circle to participate and still provide the best possible memorialization, funeral homes are turning to technology to help.
Technology like Zoom or Skype helps us keep connected. Arbor Memorial funeral homes have the ability to go a step further and livestream a service to include people who cannot physically attend. A livestream allows people to join together and be a part of the funeral from anywhere in the world. Depending on the decision of the immediate family, it can also allow participants to pay tribute and offer comfort while virtually gathered together.
Glen Oaks Funeral Home & Cemetery in Oakville, Ontario has completed over 25 livestream funerals over the past few weeks. The livestream is not only available for the service, but can be used at graveside too, to incorporate every aspect of a loved one’s service. A recent service had over 150 people virtually attend.
“We have experienced much appreciation to this addition to our service level. Families are very appreciative and embracing this offering. Family and friends from all over the world log into the livestream with simplicity and ease. People click on the link, enter a token (password) and are able to watch the live stream,” says Duane Mercer, Assistant Funeral Home Manager at Glen Oaks.
“Families have let us know that their extended family members and friends have been watching from Italy, Portugal, Lebanon, India, Australia, Columbia, Zambia and the US. With the world being in isolation at this time, this has really allowed families and friends who are abroad; or unable to attend because of social distancing requirements, to still feel close to those who are physically present at the funeral home,” he continues.
Arbor funeral staff have helped many families who view this funeral as the first act of memorialization. They have chosen to postpone a more fulsome service until a later date, when it’s safe again for a larger group to gather for a celebration of life.
“The hardest part for us at the funeral home, is having the bereaved leave without the supportive hugs we have all become so accustomed to giving. Everyone is so understanding and we show our support through heartfelt looks and kind gestures,” says Laura Van Sprang, Funeral Director of Sands Funeral Home in Victoria, BC.
Funeral home staff are well-trained to provide expert and compassionate guidance to help a family plan in advance, for that time when we can once again share and grieve together as before.
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