Yesterday I conducted my first online funeral ceremony. The family of the deceased live on another continent and it wasn’t possible to hold the ceremony at a crematorium with live streaming facilities. So Co-op FuneralCare opted to hold the ceremony in their Perth service rooms and asked me if I could use Zoom to broadcast live and also prepare a recording.
This is a bit different from some of the ideas that I’ve been exploring with other celebrants where we are planning for the possibility of crematoriums stopping all attended cremations altogether (this has now happened in Aberdeen and other parts of Scotland). In those cases we could offer to run the funeral entirely online from our own homes during this lockdown situation.
But yesterday we held the ceremony as “normal” with staff from the Co-op in attendance It was as dignified and respectful as we could make it. I just made sure that my laptop was observing and streaming.
Was it a success? I hope that it gave some consolation to the family to be “present” even if they were viewing on a screen. It did mean that I was able to display photos and play music that meant something to the family.
And once I had the recording I was able to edit it and to add in some footage of the hearse leaving with full ceremony and then arriving at the beautiful grounds of the crematorium with trees in flower and birds singing. So I hope that can act as a permanent memorial for the family.
Doing this is not easy – I made lots of “first time” errors and I know it was far from perfect. But it has also forced me to learn all sorts of new ways to deal with how we handle funerals in this time of pandemic and I think some of those could help with the problem of how we can bring scattered friends and families together even after this crisis is over.
Michael Hannah, Funeral Celebrant, April 2020