Virtual Funerals In The Coronavirus Pandemic And Fostering Connection

Due to shelter in place orders being in effect from the Coronavirus pandemic, services are being canceled, delayed, or restricted to family-only. Now, funeral homes everywhere are seeking new options to support their families.

Alisha Joy, April 7th, 2020

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions placed on society have taken us all by surprise. We have collectively been forced to reconsider how we can feel a sense of community from within the walls of our own homes. The families you serve are no doubt feeling the isolation on a higher level, as they are facing a loss without the expected comfort of their friends and family around them. 


If there is anything funeral professionals know to be true, it is that every family and every funeral is unique. Certainly, there are common threads that run between many services, but each family speaks its own language both in life, and in death. Traditionally, these differences have been honored through spirited gatherings that include family, friends, colleagues, and classmates. But how do we help families feel supported and connected when a physical gathering is not an option

How can we change - not lower - but change the expectations of how a life can be celebrated in a time of social distancing?

Serving Families Well During Coronavirus

It can help to assure a family that a full, physical gathering can take place in the coming months. The shelter in place orders that are keeping people healthy now will one day be behind us. Families may take comfort in beginning a conversation around a physical gathering to be held at a later date. They may wish to consider casket or urn selections now, and discuss how or if those selections will be present at the eventual public services. This can be a wonderful time to go over the many options you have available to them, with the silver lining of a little extra time for them to decide what would best suit their loved one’s memory. Families may even find that with a few months to plan, they are able to design a more complete memorial celebration

Shifting to Virtual Services

While a physical gathering is the eventual goal, you can still offer ways for the family to share the news and commemorate the life now. The Everdays app allows families to invite their entire communities to virtually gather, share memories, and offer condolence messages. In many instances, a small family gathering might take place now, with a larger, more public service when conditions permit. Everdays offers options to include links to livestream services, and keeps your home front and center, even before family and friends have a chance to attend services in your facility. These uncertain times will pass and services will resume. When they do, you can update the entire network of family and friends about future services at your home, through a simple text notification from Everdays. 


If the idea of holding a virtual funeral or posting recorded eulogies sounds intimidating, you’re not alone. Most Funeral Home professionals tell us they have never before had a need to share videos of services. The good news is that the basics are fairly simple to set up, and you don’t need any special equipment outside of a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Simply prop your phone, laptop, or tablet in a steady place where the speaker can be clearly seen. You can either record the video to your device, or use a service such as Facebook live to stream it online. If you decide to record it, you can then post it to youtube, your own website, or another hosting site, then share the link with the family. If you’ve provided the family with an Everdays invitation, you can also embed the link there, so that the family can easily invite their entire network of friends and family to view it. 


An example from one of our homes: Robert Lee Ranson - View Obituary & Service Information

3 Ideas to Support Your Business

Clearly, serving your families at the time of a passing is always top of mind. But you may also be considering how to maintain your home’s day-to-day business and finances when many services are being deferred. It may make sense to offer families incentives to plan and fund now for a celebration later in the year. Perhaps you could offer special packages, discounts, or payment plans for families who are in a position to at least partially fund the services now. You may also educate families about the benefit of setting up a memorial account that their friends can contribute to, which can further ease any financial burden. Helping your families plan without the added stress of full immediate payment may turn out to be a silver lining for you and for them. 

Conclusion

As you move through the coming days and weeks, remember that you are not alone in your feelings of uncertainty about how to address unexpected situations. Each day will likely bring new challenges, and flexibility will be key in maintaining both your business and your sanity. Even as the world faces a crisis of immeasurable proportions, your home can continue to support families in ways they will remember long after the dust has settled. You can carry on the treasured traditions of your home while embracing new techniques and technology. Funeral professionals have long been honored for their compassion in difficult situations. Your families will not forget how you cared for them in the face of a global pandemic. 


More like this: Funerals in the Coronavirus Pandemic: When You Can’t Gather Together

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