Livestreaming a funeral service (also called virtual funeral service) involves broadcasting the ceremony online to family and friends. This service has been available for some time and usually provided at extra cost. Crematoria have started offering this for free due to the restrictions on funeral attendance.
What is livestreaming a funeral service?
For those who are not familiar with livestreaming (or webcast) in general it is a way of allowing an audience to watch an event online as it happens. So in this case a funeral service can be filmed and broadcast live on the internet enabling family and friends to watch the ceremony.
A few of the funeral services we’ve performed have been broadcast or filmed. On one occasion we filmed it ourselves, on another the family streamed it so their relatives in Australia (who couldn’t make the funeral) could watch the service. The remaining services were streamed by the crematorium themselves at the request of the families.
Recent restrictions on numbers being allowed at funeral services coupled with people choosing to err on the side of caution and taking their own decision not to attend has led to an increase in streaming of funeral services.
Are online funerals secure?
It should be said that the services that are streamed via the crematorium are secure. Family and friends who wish to view the ceremony are supplied with a password which enables them to watch – it is not broadcast to the general public. The login details can be emailed to all those wishing to view the ceremony.
Streaming a funeral on Facebook
Whilst it is possible to stream the event on Facebook it might not be the best choice. Having the crematorium handle the broadcast is one less thing to have to do on what is going to be an emotional day.
It is also a big responsibility and should anything go wrong it might be tough to deal with. You don’t want to be stressing about technical issues during a funeral service or having to answer to family who were unable to view!
The equipment available to professional livestreaming companies is going to be better than your mobile phone so there’s the issue of quality to consider.
You probably will not want to stream the service to all your friends on Facebook. A closed group can be created which allows you to only invite the appropriate people. This private group can then watch the service and the recording cannot be shared with anyone else.
The obvious drawback here is that not everyone is on Facebook which another reason to opt for the crematorium streaming service.
Streaming a funeral on Youtube
Streaming a funeral on Youtube is probably the least secure option. Viewers need a link which will enable them to watch. Although you can prevent the funeral service stream popping up to the general public via Youtube search, it doesn’t stop anyone who has the link sharing it with other people.
One thing I would add about Facebook and Youtube streams is that there may be copyright issues, for example if music is played at the service. Facebook is cracking down on the broadcast of ‘music listening experiences’. Obviously a funeral doesn’t fall in to this category, but presumably this censorship is automated so who knows what could happen.
Can I watch the recording after the funeral?
These streams can also be recorded and watched at a later time. This is especially convenient for those who are perhaps located in a time zone in which it’s the middle of the night for example. Or maybe someone has other commitments.
Recording also serves as a safety net in cases where there are technical issues, maybe viewers lose their internet connection or maybe there’s a more fundamental issue with the stream itself.
Family and friends may want to re-watch the service at a later time or view parts they missed if they arrived late. Having a recording could also enable young children to view.
Deciding whether young children should attend a funeral can be a difficult decision. Some may see the opportunity for a compromise, parents who considered their child too young to attend in person may feel more comfortable with them watching a recording. Parents can ‘assess’ the video in advance.
How much does it cost to livestream a funeral?
Usually providing a livestream of a funeral is chargeable. Recently the service has been offered for free as an acknowledgement to the difficult circumstances people have encountered because of the restrictions placed on crematoriums by councils and privately owned crematoria. Losing someone is hard at the best of times but not being able to attend can make it that much harder.
For the moment it looks like this free streaming will continue as long as the restrictions remain in place and who knows it may become just a standard facility which isn’t charged for – watch this space!
If you are unable to watch the live stream or recording because you are not familiar with the necessary steps required it’s probably best just to ask another family member how you can view. Lots of people we deal with on a daily basis don’t even have a computer let alone internet access.
What is the future of live streaming funeral services?
With the increase in reliability of internet connections and the increases in speed due to the introduction of 5G networks, it is likely the popularity of streaming will only grow.
In fact with the recent advances in virtual reality it wouldn’t surprise me if in the next few years we see the option of attending virtual funeral services.
I have no doubt that it will come, but I do have reservations about it. I have seen first hand, at the hundreds of funerals we’ve performed, how important actual physical support among family members is. There’s just no substitute for that.
I remember back in April reading about a lady who couldn’t attend her grandmother’s funeral because of the lockdown. She felt a sense of anger to have to watch the funeral online, it didn’t bring her solace.
Virtual Reality Funerals
At the same time, there have been services where people have been unable to attend due to illness and ‘attending’ in VR might be a big plus for them.
I recently saw a video about a company in America that created a VR experience of a funeral service. Well kind of.
You could walk around a virtual church, at the front of which was a screen displaying images of the deceased. You could then venture outside where a memorial campfire was burning. Although it looked like a poor computer game you could see the idea they were trying to get across.
When the graphics become photo-realistic (which isn’t too far away) I can see funeral services along with a whole host of other events being ‘attended’ in virtual reality.