How to include loved ones in a funeral service when they can’t physically attend

01 November 2021

The pandemic has left us with some interesting ideas for the funerals of the future.

Remote funerals

It has been an extremely challenging year and a half for the UK, not least for funeral professionals and those families who have had to arrange a funeral service during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Whilst funerals, unlike weddings and baptisms, were allowed to go ahead in the early days of the pandemic, they were restricted to immediate family only. Not only was attendance limited to 10 guests, but mourners had to sit 2 meters apart at a time when they were desperate to comfort each other. Although the limit was later increased to 30 guests, for lots of families this still meant many missing faces. Loved ones therefore sought to find creative ways to involve those who were unable to attend.

Although life is now slowly returning to ‘normal’, the pandemic has left us with some interesting ideas for the funerals of the future. These would be especially useful for those still isolating, or with relatives living abroad and unable to travel home for a funeral.

1. Livestream the funeral service

Livestreaming a funeral service involves broadcasting the ceremony online, so that those at home can watch along in real-time. Usually, the stream can be re-cast for a period of time after the funeral has taken place, so it can also be rewatched and even saved down for posterity.

This service has been available for some time and usually comes at an extra cost, although some funeral services may offer it for free. Speak to your local funeral director for more information.

2. Share the order of service by email

Ask your funeral director for a PDF version of the order of service, which can be shared by email or on social media for loved ones to follow along at home. Remember to save a copy for yourself, so that you will always have it to reflect on.

3. Create a slideshow of memories

Unable to hold funeral services and wakes in the usual way during the pandemic, many families opted to create slideshows full of memories and photos for those at home to watch. You could also invite friends and relatives of the deceased to contribute their favourite stories, photos and words of remembrance, to help ensure everyone feels involved.

4. Ask loved ones to perform a small ritual at home at the same time

Having everyone do something small in remembrance of the deceased at a specific time on the day of the funeral can help to bring a connection. This could be as simple as lighting a candle, playing the deceased’s favourite song or raising a toast to them.

For more ideas, please contact your local funeral director.