Firstly, sorry you’re here. Our world is in a strange and unfamiliar time and now you’re facing one of life’s most difficult tasks. While we’re not able to meet physically it’s still important to come together and honor our loved ones.The CDC social distancing guidance recommends funeral attendance to immediate family while live-streaming or recording the service to share with family and friends. It’s important to come together in a larger group online to share memories and support each other from afar.
We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to hosting a successful virtual funeral reception, wake, and shiva for your loved one.
1. Remember and celebrate
Take out a notepad and write down a few of their favourite things. What was their favorite song? What was their favorite meal? What is one of your favorite stories you shared together?
Similar to an in-person funeral, this is the time to think about who may want to share stories with guests. Write down the names of the individuals who may want to speak and reach out to them.
Ask family and friends if they have memories they would like to share.
Put together a slideshow of your favorite pictures. Ask guests to send you theirs before the gathering.
Have everyone wear their favorite color, enjoy their favorite snack or beverage.
Have someone perform their favorite song.
Will you be livestreaming the funeral service at the funeral home and cemetery? Will you be sharing a recording?
2. Assign roles and make a schedule
It’s best to share responsibility and work together to ensure a smooth gathering. Decide who will take on the roles such as master of ceremonies and who will be making a speech. Select someone to be the technical moderator to make sure everyone is muted, the speaker can be heard, and the slideshow is playing correctly. We suggest the speakers meet a few minutes before the event begins to test their microphones and navigate any possible issues.
3. Select your video service
There are a number of video conferencing services to choose from. The best option for your gathering depends on the number of guests you expect to join and your budget.
We suggest the following:
- Zoom - can accommodate up to 100 guests for $15/month. There is also a free plan that allows you to meet for up to 30 minutes. It’s simple to use and allows guests to join from their computers or by phone.
- Google Hangouts - can accommodate up to 25 guests and easily integrates with your gmail email account.
- GoToMeetings - can accommodate up to 150 participants for $16.25/month and 250 participants for $21.50/month
4. Notify friends and family
If possible gather the emails of family and friends to send a group email to notify everyone of the time and date. By sending a virtual invite, you’re able to include the video link for everyone to meet on. An alternative is to send guests messages through your preferred messaging app, sending a calendar invite, or by creating a facebook event.
- Paperlesspost.com and evite.com provide free virtual invites
- Create an event on Facebook
- Ask friends to forward the invitation to people you may have missed
- Share the link and event schedule with your guests
5. Host your gathering
It’s time to meet with family and friends from afar. Find a comfortable well lit spot in your home. You’re organized and ready to get started. Be sure to sign in to your event link a few minutes before the event begins to test speaker’s microphones and navigate any possible issues.
- Have 1 person speak at a time
- Ask everyone to mute their microphone and keep on their cameras
- After you’ve made it through the initial speeches, ask others to raise their hand or write a message in the chat.
- The master of ceremony is responsible for selecting who speaks next
Accommodating people in many locations can feel stressful, but you’ve tested the conference service, planned the event schedule, and delegated tasks. You’ve got this and remember that there isn’t one right way to hold a funeral.