As the majority of everyday life develops an online alternative, this has now even been extended to the after-everyday life.
Within the UK, rising numbers of mourners from all corners of the globe are now able to observe funeral proceedings thanks to live streaming. All that’s needed is a stable internet connection and a compatible device in order for those unable to attend to watch the sombre ceremony from the comfort of their own home.
Undertakers of a more traditional disposition however, have criticised the concept and expressed concern that it will become the norm, effectively discouraging funeral attendance. Despite the potential benefit it may bring for distant friends and family or those with mobility issues, a leading UK funeral director fears it may “pander to people’s laziness”.
The concept itself may not be as new as you may think. A recent survey has indicated that 61% of funeral directors have received live streaming requests with around one fifth of the 281 crematorium’s in Britain already having had a camera fitted. The ceremony is filmed using said camera – which would be discrete in nature – to capture proceedings, which are then able to be accessed online by anyone with the secure login details.
Although some of the funeral directors expressed scepticism, others highlighted the benefits of the streaming service. President of the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, Paul Allcock stated that if mourners reside further afield, there may be a request for it. He does however recognise that engaging personally with the bereaved is often an essential part of the grieving process – something which is unlikely to be replaced completely by technology.
“It’s wonderful for those relatives who live abroad, but there’s also a danger of pandering to people’s laziness and not attending personally and sharing your condolences, which is such an important part of the grieving process.”
However, for those who have already used the service, the sheer possibility of being able to view the service at all may outweigh any issues with it being on a less personal level. Estimating that between a quarter and a third benefit from live streaming, funeral director Max Webber mentions that the West Sussex-based firm he works for has offered the service for nine years.
Whereas some firms such as Webbers offer the service free of charge, other firms do charge. Llanelli crematorium for example charge webcasts at £80 and an extra £65 for a DVD.
The streamed funerals run as they normally would, following the camera being set up and remains unaffected by the webcast which is usually one-way. A possible downside that exists for those watching on their laptop screens is the potential to suffer from technical interruptions. Considering the nature of the circumstances, interference with the stream may result in great upset being caused.