See also update 10 April 2020.

At the time of writing this (3rd April 2020) funerals in Scotland are still going ahead in crematoriums. Numbers are restricted to just ten people but some places, like Dundee, have the option to stream or record the ceremony. This means a family still have an opportunity to observe a solemn moment even if the circumstances are not ideal and to make it available to more than just the ten immediate family and friends.

However, there is a real possibility that all funerals may be stopped. This is already happening in parts of England. Crematoriums will still carry out direct cremations but they will not be able to permit anyone to attend.

If this happens what can families do? Of course it’s always possible to organize a memorial …. but when? It may have to be weeks or even months away.

One option may be to organize an online ceremony using one of the video conferencing systems that so many are currently using for online working. Zoom is one of the most popular.

I have been exploring this and have carried out a test online “funeral”. It worked surprisingly well. I send out email invitations that contain a link. The participants then use this to access the online “room” where they can see and hear me – I, as online celebrant, can also display photos, short video clips and play music while I deliver the tribute or invite others to speak.

Of course there are always going to be problems of poor internet connections, accessibility issues…. and Zoom isn’t without its critics and problems.

But as an interim solution to a difficult and distressing problem this could work for many people. It could even open up new ways to mark these events in the future.

If you would like to know more about how I’m trying to tackle an online funeral, contact me for a chat.

Michael Hannah, Funeral Celebrant, Dundee, 3 April 2020

Online funerals….in the age of COVID-19

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