it’s never easy experiencing the loss of a loved one, especially during a time of heightened anxiety and uncertainty. Now, more than ever, is the time to connect with your loved ones. Although the reality limits gatherings of more than a few people, virtual services allow families to grieve and friends the opportunity to offer support during this difficult time. Here are some helpful tips that can help your family plan a virtual service.
Decide Where to Host the Service With virtual events, you will need to be careful of where you host the service. Live streams require additional resources such as strong Wi-Fi connection, quality lighting and technical equipment such as outlets, extension cords, etc., limiting the places you can choose from. Make sure your location has these capabilities. Funeral homes or a family member's house are recommended.
Pick Your Streaming Software and Make
Sure to Test It
Pick a software that’s compatible with the number of guests you plan on inviting. Zoom and Skype are great platforms for larger virtual gatherings.
With any technology, make sure to test your software in the location you picked, to ensure sound and visuals are working properly. If you plan to record the service for later view, make sure to use a software that has this feature and test it beforehand. For Zoom, only the meeting host can record unless the host provides permission to another participant during the meeting.
Inform Friends and Family of Your Plans
Inviting guests will follow a similar suit to that of more traditional services. Note in the obituary whether the service will be public or private. If it is the latter, make sure to include information on how guests can access the virtual event such as any meeting links, IDs or passcodes. You can also send out digital invites that include this information.
Plan Your Service Like You Would with Any Funeral
You may choose to follow a similar structure to that of traditional services. Pick one person to be the service officiant, decide what you want to include in the order of service, and create an itinerary that clearly displays it. Ensure that any events you choose are compatible with the streaming software you select.
Run Through the Service in Advance Since these services depend heavily on technology, you may run into technical problems. The best way to avoid these is to be prepared and practice ahead of time.
Take the time to familiarize your guests with the software, especially those who are not as technologically-savvy. If you are having guests speak, make sure they know what to expect and their webcams and microphones are functioning and ready to go.
More families and funeral homes are shifting their services online due to the evolving health crisis. If you do get invited to one of these services, it’s normal to have some initial questions and concerns. Below, we have gathered some comforting tips and ideas on how you can provide that support without compromising etiquette.
Offer to Help Loved Ones Plan Virtual Services
The times before, during, and after a funeral service will be incredibly overwhelming for those immediate to the deceased. Recognize, understand this, and offer to help in any way you can without adding additional burden to the family.
If you know the family is hosting a virtual service or have been invited to one, suggest lending a hand with tasks like finding the right video software, organizing the itinerary, or even sending out digital invites for them. It’s important to be supportive of the family and assist without overburdening them with your own requests.
“Attend” the Service in a Quiet Setting
Although virtual funerals allow the convenience of joining the service from anywhere with Wi-Fi connection and a mobile device, you must still be cognizant of the nature of the meeting. Find a quiet place in your home where there are no distractions or background noise for the duration of the service. If you are unable to do so, mute yourself so you do not disrupt the service.
Dress as You Normally Would to a Funeral
Even though you’ll be attending digitally, it’s important to still adhere to the dress code, especially if your camera will be enabled. Stick to neutral colors so you do not distract from the service and avoid casual clothes you would normally wear around the house such as lounge and athletic wear.
Send Sympathy Gift Baskets or Flower as Comforting Reminders for the Family
Gift Baskets and flowers are both appropriate ways to show the family you are thinking of them, especially when expressing condolences in person may not be the best option.
If a family requests a donation in lieu of flowers, it is still thoughtful to send a sympathy gift to let them know you are thinking of them. Just make sure you are honoring the family’s wishes.
Personal notes and “we are thinking of you” messages are highly encouraged to send along with any gifts. If you are unable to send any gift baskets or flowers, consider our free sentiment ecards, including thinking of you and sympathy, to let them know you are thinking of them.