How to plan a funeral during and after COVID-19
Funerals have been hit hard by the Coronavirus. With so many deaths due to the virus, saying goodbye has never been more important, the question is how to plan a funeral during Covid-19? How can you manage social distancing, the ban on large gatherings and still have a respectful and dignified ceremony for your loved one?
For many of our clients during this time, the answer is to have either a blended funeral or a virtual funeral
A virtual funeral is attended by only the people necessary for the service to be conducted. All of the funeral is live streamed to invitees through a camera and microphones or telepresence solution placed into the Church/Mosque/Shul and streamed onto and through the internet. Given the issues that have arisen after the Covid- 19 pandemic relating to travel restrictions and large gatherings it is likely that these types of funerals will become more and more common. When planning a virtual funeral, you need to take the following into account:
The venue for the funeral serbvice is much more important when choosing a virtual funeral or blended funeral.:
- You need to consider the placement of the camera(s) and microphone(s) to ensure good quality vision and acoustics.
- The cameras will also require adequate lighting of the area being streamed
- There must be a reliable, fast internet connection. We suggest no less than 20MB/s upload speed.
- Don’t forget such mundane issues as adequate power or power extensions and equipment ventilation (fan noise can bereally loud)
DIY or Pro?:
Choosing a professional option can save you time and money when planning a virtual funeral. Sendoff has a virtual funeral offering that you can choose. If you do want to do it yourself however, you will need to ensure the following areas are covered:
There are multiple options for livestreaming events today. Not all of them are either appropriate or fit for this kind of use. We would suggest that you use one of the following:
- Google Meet
- Facebook Live
- Youtube Live
This is not an exhaustive list but all of these software tools have been tested and we can confirm that they work. Each will have some pros and cons but will work well and we suggest uing the one you are most familiar with.
You will need a good camera and camera mount to capture the live stream. It needs to be network capable in order to broadcast the video feed to the selected software tool. A good directional microphone is necessary and if you are having speakers for a eulogy or other speeches, they will need to have a microphone attached to a lapel or other unobtrusive clothing mount.
Schedule & Sequence:
As with any other funeral, there needs to be a program. You can attach a program to your selected tool as notes or send it out with the invitations. Unlike an in person funeral, the attendees cannot really see everything that is happening and it is therefore very important to manage the program tightly. Long breaks between program items can make attendees feel they have been disconnected and cause disruptions.
Instructions & Support:
You will need to distribute the meeting link, joining instructions and a “frequently asked questions” list. Many people are not especially comfortable with technology and it is easy to get confused by the options available when joining a virtual funeral. If you have a person who is good with technology and is not needed to handle other virtual funeral tasks, consider asking them if it is ok to add their details to the invitation as technical support.
A blended funeral is a mix of a traditional funeral and a virtual funeral. You will have the familiar in person activities happening but will also have a live stream of the event. Here is a list of what you will need to arrange:
- Arrange funeral or cremation with a funeral home.
- Choose a coffin or casket.
- If your loved one is being cremated, choose an urn.
- Book Church/Mosque/Shul for service.
- Arrange transportation for your loved one and relatives.
- Conclude specific religious guidelines.
- Book cemetery and gravesite.
- Select an outfit for your loved one
- Book florist and select arrangement
- Send out invitations
- Issue an obituary in the relevant newspapers
- Book reception venue
- Book caterer
- Book Photo/videographer
- Book “After tears” venue
- A thank you note to all who helped out
- If your loved one was cremated, you will need to decide what to do with their ashes
- You may want to look into a “Living Memorial” at this stage.
- Cancelling any policies, financial instruments or contracts held by your loved one
- You should cancel any governmental accounts or documents still held such as rates & taxes, driving licence etc
- Create a documents file which holds all the documents, invoices, contract cancellation notices and bills related to the funeral and your loved one
- File a notice of death with the Master of the High Court (RSA)
- You may want to look into bereavement counselling options. Even if you think you are fine, the death of a loved one can have serious emotional impacts.